Okay, driveway and walk cleared, kitchen cleaned, mail’s all done and nothing now until the game.
Not bad at all, if I do say so myself.
Q: Hi Doug. This came to me while watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "The Announcement" which follows Magic Johnson and his revealing he was HIV positive. One thing that struck me was how important a role that not only Magic, but David Stern had on the perception of the disease and developing an attitude of acceptance rather than prejudice. I'm thinking that will be one of David Stern's legacies and was wondering (Jackie Robinson excluded) if any other sport/athlete had made an impact on social issues as they did over those 3 years or so. Can you think of any?
Rob K, Peterborough
A: Outside of Robinson, probably not although the pucks saga about the abuse of teenage players must have done a lot to increase awareness of that issue.
That was a difficult time in AIDS and HIV awareness and the fear-mongering worldwide was getting out of control. Yes, there were some players who fed into the misinformation but those who stood by Magic – and Stern for his work making it a league-wide issue – played a significant role in enlightening basketball fans. And for that they should be forever commended
Q: Doug! Did you see what Not-Grace got to do? Ride a Monster Truck!!! How is this even fair? Plus he got to be in Florida this week. And the icing on this crap cake? He got to see the Raps in two games that weren't stinkers. At All. (And do you believe that shot of DeMar's to win in Orlando?) Jeez. Doesn't that suck? 'Cause we all know how big a dream of yours it's been to be strapped in to a 1500 horsepower, 10,000-pound vehicle. (Not-Grace said it would be thrilling for him - a guy who drives a Subaru - to experience this. Well, Ahem. A Smelly Ford Focus? Of A Certain Vintage? Ahem?)
Anyway, Tall Foreheads want to address this travesty of sports-vehicular-reporting injustice and have offered you an opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of the following machines. Now, let's assume you are proficient at operating anything with four wheels. So, Mr. Smith, what's your preference: an F1 car (driven to speeds in excess of 350kmh at the Monaco Grand Prix) or a customized Chevy Malibu (at a NASCAR event - let's make it Talladega before 170,000 screaming, adoring, fans) or that antidote to road-rage and years of battling GTA gridlock - a 1972 Lincoln Continental - Texas Longhorns on the hood optional - at a Demolition Derby? What would you choose? Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, I want something small and sleek and very fast. Something along the lines of a Mercedes sports car or something from the Rolls Royce line. A Jaguar would work, too.
But the best rental I ever got on the road was in Charlotte one time, it was busy and all they had was a big ol’ pickup truck with – yep! – a gunrack on the back window.
Felt absolutely at home down there.
Q: Hi Doug. I have a couple of quick questions for you.
I was reading an article in SI the other day on hockey. They did a statistical analysis on how often certain shots are taken. Not surprisingly, the backhand shot was the least used. That got me thinking about basketball. Do you feel there is there anything in the game (ie. a type of shot, pass, dribble, system etc) that is underutilized and should be used more of.
How much credit for Damian Lillard's rookie success in Portland be attributed to the coaching of Jay Triano? I know Jay has had a big role in developing quite few current and former Raptors such as Chris Bosh.
Thank You for taking the time to read my questions. All the best.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I think some players should try to develop hook shots because they are basically unblockable and the bank shot from the wing is vastly under-utilized.
And, yeah, Jay does a lot of work on the offence in Portland and the Blazers are an effective team. It’s not just him, though, the players have to be willing to put in the work and skilled enough to make lessons pay off.
Q: Hey Doug. As someone who has seen more than a fair share of sub-500 Raptor squads, would you agree that this is one of the more enjoyable editions to watch? Despite the record, the team is competitive (despite some significant lost time due to injuries), it plays hard on a nightly basis, and has young players improving as the season progresses (Davis, Ross, and even Acy). There were seasons where the record was terrible and the team seemed to be going nowhere, but this squad seems to be heading in the right direction. What do you think?
Tom P, Windsor
A: I agree wholeheartedly that most nights they are fun to watch because they play hard and don’t quit. There is promise there, I just hope everyone’s patient enough to know it takes time to develop.
And one of Jay’s teams – I think his first full year – was the same kind of way.
Q: Watching young Ross grow up before our eyes this year got me thinking about a "Ready for Primetime" all-rookie team, for both the Raptors and the League. Kobe wasn't Kobe right away and Dirk wasn't Dirk right away. Who, in your wise grunt eyes, really hit the league running and had an impact in their rookie year? Give us a team that turned heads almost immediately after taking an NBA floor.
Wilber L, Toronto
A: Well, I remember writing in his rookie year that LeBron James had impossible expectations to meet and he exceeded them so I’d have to say he’d be at the top of the list.
Others? And I’m sure I’m missing some but I’m going to go with Blake Griffin (even though his rookie year really wasn’t his rookie year) along with Jason Kidd and Grant Hill (they shared rookie of the year honours, as I recall) and how about Derrick Rose?
Q: Hey Doug. Jack Armstrong had an interesting idea about the Raps-Heat game near the end of the game. The score was tied with about 16-odd seconds to go and the Heat had possession.
What he was saying, was the Raps should foul the Heat to put them on the line and go for a three pointer to win the game. The idea behind it was that the Raps' talent level wouldn't match up against the Heat's in a 5 minute OT.
It is a very unconventional play and I don't know if any coach would have the guts to pull it off, but it could be a good strategy with the shooters that the Raps have. What are your thoughts on this?
Wesley L, Richmond Hill
A: I heard that, too. Rather unique to the NBA, that’s for sure, although it is something that happens with some regularity in Europe.
I guess it comes down to whether you have more faith in your defence to get one stop or your offence to get one score.
You also have to take into consideration – and with this team, it’s a factor – that you’d have to rebound a missed second free throw and that’s not a certainty.
And if you’ve played a team, even one with more individual talent, evenly for 48 minutes on a specific night, why wouldn’t you have confidence that you could do it for five more minutes, if necessary.
I see how it might be an intriguing bit of strategy, I don’t think I’d employ it.