The end of the weekend mail, all in the same day!
Told you I’d get this done tonight.
I love my iPad Mini because if you’re sitting on a stoll goofing around, it’s easy to work on a small space.
Have a read of this and since it’s a quiet night, the alarm won’t be ignored like it was this morning and we’ll be back with the regular fare about the regular time.
Q: Hi Doug - a question about referees (with a bit of a preamble, as is my habit). When I was at the game a few weeks ago, I was sitting baseline, quite close to the court. It was more apparent to me in person than on TV that there is a LOT of contact that doesn't get called. If they called everything the game would take forever!
Now on to the referees. It seems apparent that certain referees may not be regarded as highly as others, but I wonder about reputations certain referees may have and how it affects the players. For instance, if one referee has a reputation for 'letting the game flow', and may let a lot of little stuff go, do the players have that in mind when they start the game, or do they take it as a game by game thing and see what's being called? All within the scope of the rules, but it seems that some refs may be sticklers more than others.
Just to clarify, this isn't about questioning the referees, it's more about the players and whether they may change their play slightly when they know a ref will let certain things slide, or perhaps if they know the ref calls a tight game, they go in and play accordingly right from the start.
Sheila C, Ottawa
A: Most players that I've asked about this tend to "take the temperature" of the game early, despite knowing who the officials are and how they might have handled games in the past. Even officials who are known for "letting them play" can become whistle-happy hard-asses every now and then. It basically is a night-to-night learning experience for them and us.
Q: Hi Doug. Glad you made it back from Chicago. Your story about Stumpy not knowing what city you were coming from got me thinking about Spinal Tap and so - what do you think the best Rock and Roll movies are? I've got to have Spinal Tap and The Commitments at the top. Do you agree?
Art H, Sharbot Lake
A: If the list cannot include documentaries, those two would definitely be in my top five. Not sure how I'd rank them but the other three might be High Fidelity, School of Rock and Wayne's World?
Q: I think it was a really poor choice on Casey's part to have Demar throw the ball in after the timeout at the end of the game. Demar has the potential to be a good NBA player but he's not a very quick thinker. My choice would have been Landry Fields. Dwayne is a good coach in my opinion but everyone has to take the blame for that loss. But Dwayne IS the leader isn't he?
Bill H, Ailsa Craig
A:I was a little surprised that it was DeMar the first time, even if he did have the presence of mind to call the timeout. And it made more sense to me to have Jose do it the second time, even if it didn't work out.
And, yes, Dwane is the leader and accepts ultimate responsibility but I don't think it's too much to ask a four-veteran to make an inbounds pass.
Q: So the NBA apologizes to the Raptors again. Is this something new this year. I don't recall it happening before. We see it now because it is the Raptors. Is this something that happens regularly to other teams and in other years?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Not regularly, no. In fact, I don’t remember another case this year.
Nothing like British prose .... Wonderful description of the modern day NBA with all the distractions. Of course that's music to this curmudgeons' ears. My fondest Raps memories were the VC years where the atmosphere in the building was electric. which was all related to the product on the court.
John C, Mississauga
A:Those were the good old days, weren't they? And the more legit British sportswriting I read, the more inadequate I feel. Those blokes can flat out craft.
Q: Hi Doug. I was so frustrated after regulation last night that I couldn't bring myself to watch the OT... and then not surprised to find they had lost.
In any event, I'm curious about Bargnani and Valanciunas? Are they able to get any work in on the court while they're off or is it all limited to cardio, etc.? Is there any timeline as to when we might see either return to action?
Thanks as always.
Jim F, London
A: Actually, Valanciunas has spent a lot of time working on his left hand jump hook since he’s been out; Bargnani’s been doing a lot of cardio.
And both have been cleared for non-contact on-court work now so the process is unfolding.
Q: Hey Doug, I'm not a basketball novice by any stretch but I've always been curious about how a "scoring run" starts and ends. I used to think runs were just consecutive basket streaks until you gave one up, but of course I've heard announcers talk about a team scoring to end, say, a 13-4 run by their opponent. So how exactly is a "scoring run" calculated from start to finish?
Simon S, Toronto
A: It’s actually quite arbitrary and depends on what fits best into the story if you’re me or the broadcast if you’re talking about it.
I just calculate and make reference to one if it’s what turns the game from one team to the other.
Q: Hi Doug. Just wondering how long we are going to be subjected to the nutritional primo ads when all the Raps seem to do is pay him to be injured and sitting on the end of the bench taking up space. God you would think he could at least look a bit interested in what the team is doing. Same for klaisa. Wow your three bigs sitting on the end of the bench. How uplifting is that.
Ric B, Cambridge
A: Man, burr in your bonnet or what? Do you think they should put on costumes and hit the court with the June Taylor Dancers? Yeesh.
You’re going to put up with a two- or three-year-old ad until the contract for it to air runs out. Mute your TV or change the channel, no one’s forcing you to watch.
And Kleiza and Valanciunas? If you want chest bumps, dances and overt displays of emotion, go watch old video of M.L. Carr.
Q: Recent comments about the Atlanta Hawks reminded me that the Hawks of Bob Pettit days were once a great team in St. Louis. St. Louis supports baseball with great fervor. Is it not on the radar for a future NBA franchise? Why did the team fail there in the first place?
Richard W, Toronto
A:The St. Louis Hawks were pretty good, young kid named Lenny Wilkens was drafted by them, I believe.
But I have not heard St. Louis as a viable NBA now and I wonder if there's enough corporate money there after baseball and, to a much lesser extent, hockey.
Q: Hello. Re: cabbie rip off artists. Did you know that there are more lawyers than cab drivers in the U.S.? Lawyers also have a creative way of making you pay for your "ride.”
In honour of Philly, how about a little TSOP, or even further back "South Street?”
Gotta fly now.
Bob E, Kanata
A: What’d my man Bill say:
“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.”
(I’m kidding, all my lawyer friends, really)
Q: Doug! I'm sorry. I've already submitted but just thought of another one and I'm blaming it on your choice of music in today's blog. Oh, and we'll blame The Boss a wee bit, too. So, I don't know if you've ever had this happen to you but I a few days ago decided I wanted to add a channel to my cable package and called my subscriber and asked if they could help me do this. And of course it could be done.
For a price.
And with the accompaniment of several other channels I knew I'd never watch. Never. Ever. By this point I know my viewing habits and preferences! But, I told them, I only want this one! So, even though we can put men on the moon, little trackers on Mars and send a telescope way, way, WAY out into the universe one can not apparently add the one channel I wanted to my cable package. Who knew the complexities of running a cable network?
Anyway. Enough ranting. So, Doug, if it were possible - and hopefully this glorious day will arrive soon - and you could design the cable package you want, with only say the 20 or so channels you know you'd watch, what would it include? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: I feel your pain, I hate cable companies and the “bundling” solely so they can give marginal networks some money to do shows no one watches while maximizing profits. They are evil.
That said, I’d probably have all the sports networks so I could see games if I was so inclined – and it’s more about baseball on summer nights, actually; and I’d have to have some comedy network that showed repeats of The Office, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock. There’d have to be CBC, CNN and BBC, the Food Nework for sure and while Arts and Entertainment is no longer Arts and Entertainment, it would have to be on the list.
Toss in Showtime and HBO Canada and I’m fine.
The rest? Crap, mostly.
Q: Hi Doug. I watch Bob Macowan's talk show on sports net almost every day. Recently the best coach we ever had(as far as coaching is concerned)Butch Carter was on the show twice. Once in person & once over the phone. He gave some "interesting insights" regarding the Raptors.
I would like to see you there too regularly like Damian Cox etc.& give your take on the Raptorland day to day issues. I think you will be the most knowledgeable basketball writer on that panel. Will it be possible for you to do it with your hectic schedule?
Keep up the good work.
Savath M, Milton
A: I appreciate the kind words but once the season starts, those Friday round-table things are impossible to do because of the timing. So it’s phone-in stuff, which I really enjoy doing.
And I heard Butch one time, he’s really good and should do more.
Q: Although somewhat realistic of its limitations I am positive about the young developing core. Do you think that the priority is still an upgrade at small forward or has a more serviceable muscular big to protect and enforce become a more apparent need?
Robert M, Meductic
A: It’s even more apparent now that a three-point threat at small forward is the key; I don’t mind a four bigs rotation of Valanciunas, Davis, Johnson and Bargnani. But if they could turn Bargnani into an upgrade at small forward, they should.
Q: Good Day Doug. Observation and a question.
If I was in the ear of players, we all know that it is a 48 minute game, two 24 minutes halfs, four 12 minute quarters, but would take it one step further...three four minute spurts per quarter. Put forth the all out effort while you are on the floor and win that four minute stretch, do it consistently and it will show up in the win column. I don’t see players by position I see five guys on the floor at one time. I believe Magic Johnson played centre at least once.
Question? Since you are Canada's most knowledgeable hoops grunt and you are employed by the Star, why am I reading the game story by the "associated press"?
Matt D, Dorchester
A: The Associated Press/Canadian Press thing is all a matter of timing, actually. Because I'm doing the IGBT every game I'm at, it's often too arduous for me to file right at the buzzer because to do so would take away from one of the things that is unique to our coverage and, frankly, more fun for me and the readers, I'd hope. There are times in different time zones where I have to file at the buzzer to meet my paper deadline and those are difficult nights for me.
The plan, generally, is for my story to replace the wire story as soon as possible after I file it but sometimes due to staffing issues at our place and timing, that takes a bit longer than it should.
Q: Hi Doug. After years of watching games in bars, or following the IGBT on the laptop, I finally broke down and got a new "SmartTV" to use for watching movies, without an expensive cable TV subscription.
This past Sunday afternoon, I turned it on, hoping that CTV-over-the-airwaves was still carrying the odd game, only to discover that not only is cable required to watch the Raptors, but a sports package as well.
As a Montrealer, my first real connection and attachment to the Raptors came from watching, weekly and without cable, those Sunday games back in 2000. Since then, I've spent money on attending games, and become a true fan of the team.
Now, in the age of decreasing cable subscriptions, there appears less and less chance of turning new and dare I say younger viewers into fans of the team. Despite teaser marketing being well proven (give a little away to encourage people to come back and spend lots), these owners are hard-nosed about profitting off of established fans, while ignoring all others.
To fanangle these comments into a question, would it be fair to say that the current ownership group, helped by its monopoly over both content and distribution, has "PROFIT" as its sole interest, to the neglect of growing the game or fanbase?
Second and more directed question: In your eyes, what will be the medium-to-long term effects of having owners who own 100% of the team (content), 100% of the distribution (TSN/Sportsnet), and almost all of the media?
Thanks as always,
Charlie D, Montreal
A: Actually, I could argue that the current ownership should be more driven by success than profit because the better the teams do, the more games are broadcast, ratings go up and fees go up and profit increases.
The Teachers, on the other hand, had a fiduciary responsibility to have a specific profit margin and might have been more risk-adverse.
That said, I do think personal ownership rather than corporate ownership is the best but it's hard to find a single billionaire with an abiding interest in sports to own your teams.
Q: Like to get your thoughts on the no call on what looked to me to be a pretty clear offensive foul on Luol Deng when he pushed off on Landry Fields and then made the winning jump shot...kind of reminds me when Jordan pushed off on Bryon Russell and then made the winning jump shot a number of years ago...in your opinion was it a foul....when a potential foul results in a game changing play, shouldn't the refs be making the call?
Bob G, Crystal Beach
A: Sure it was a push-off and a blown call and, yes, in a perfect world no official would ever miss a call. But we do not inhabit a perfect world.
Q: Doug, a question of career choices. Not sure if you've answered this before but, after reading Zach Lowe's piece on the Raptors this week and the Golden State Warriors last week it got me thinking. Would you ever consider working as a National Beat writer? Following all 30 teams instead of 1? Picking and choosing which games to watch, which stories to follow etc? What would be the difference in the style of writing between the local and national writer?
Ken G, Campbellford
A: I've sometimes thought of that but I am at an age and spot in my career -- and I really do enjoy The Star – that a move isn’t even contemplated. And while I’d like to branch out and do more league stuff for our paper, I’m not sure that’s what the readers want. And, frankly, the HOTH are a time-consuming beat.
But, yeah, there was a time when I was quite envious of the national guys.
Q: Looking at the Raptor's offense, there seems to be a number of sets where a non-shooting big (Amir, Boss Davis, Aaron Gray, and even Acy!?!) are tasked with facilitating at the elbow. Two questions on this.
First, what the heck? Since none of these bigs could be considered shooting threats, I can't see how it helps spacing. And considering none of these bigs are particularly great passers, it seems like these sets are destined to end with a contested two (my casual observation).
Second, why does it seem like they never ran this set with Bargnani at the elbow? He was certainly a shooting threat and was an ok passer when he put his mind to it.
Lorne K, Vancouver
A: They run Bargnani hand off plays all the time, perhaps it's just slipped your mind.
And they run that action with Johnson, Davis and, sometimes, with Gray because it allows guards to rub their men off a big while there is screen stuff going on over on the weak side. It's actually one of their most effective sets behind high screen-roll and running DeMar in a curl on the weak side.
Q: Just saw a news story that travelling music of a fast tempo can cause speeding issues and the converse is true... Your less apt to speed with easy listening. I'll start a list:
5 Travelers for me that will turn the GPS red.
Anything by the Ramones.
The boys are back in town, Thin Lizzy.
Doors live double album, bought it at SAMs in the delete bin and loved it!
Early Ultravox, saw them at the Edge.
Do you have traveling songs that are a must?
John C, Mississauga
A: The Ramones would be for sure and I can't dispute your last at all although -- and this might not fit -- but I do like me some Best of Van Morrison.
And here's an old one that some might never have heard of.
But if you know The Monks, you know what I mean.