The end of the weekend mail
Here you folk, ladies and gentlemen.
We’ll be back in the morning – and it might be the morning my time rather than yours – with the usual stuff.
Q: Hey Doug! I enjoy keeping up with the NBA rumor mill, but curious what sites you would say are the most reputable ... I tend to look at Hoops Hype, Pro Sports Daily, Yardbarker and Hoops Rumors to name a few.
Your schedule seems super demanding. Wondering about the logistics of your job - do all the media personel travel to every away game with the team, and do you fly coach? I'm assuming the "second bus" referred to on Raptors TV is for the media? Do you all stick together (i.e. meals, hotels, etc.) or do you own thing when in other cities?
Do the players tend to provide better answers with a better attitude to some journalists over others, aka do they have favourites? Personally I feel like sometimes the players look like they want to punch the interviewer in the face when asked a question, mostly after losses. Do most of them enjoy the interviews post-game or is it simply part of the gig?
And finally, what did you think of Miami's version of Harlem Shake?! I thought the Raps played it better myself. But LeBron was hilarious, he looked like he had rabies! Thanks so much!
A: To get your first part, I prefer to read sites that do original reporter – ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, NBA.com – rather than those that simply compile what’s out there or, frankly, make stuff up by extrapolating on the work of others.
Now, as for the logistics, it’s actually pretty simple: All the team employees – radio and TV broadcasters and support staff and Raptors website writers – travel with the team on the charter and stay wherever the players stay.
Us? Me and basically whoever it is from the Sun, do all our own travel arrangements. We book our own flights to make sure we can get to wherever team is in time for, say, an off-day practice, and take care of all our hotel bookings. It’s a pain but it’s part of the job nowadays.
Some players do have better relationships with different writers or TV and radio people, relationships built over time and based on mutual respect. I’ve found that if they see that you’re and respectful and willing to work hard, you will be better treated. And, yes, some of them in the immediate moments after a game, when the adrenaline might still be flowing and the disappointment of a defeat might still be stinging, can be a bit put out by what they see as odd questions. But this group, and it’s been pretty historic with the Raptors, handles it well without going off.
Miami’s Harlem Shake? I liked Toronto’s better but you have to understand that I have no clue what it’s supposed to be or why it exists so my opinion probably shouldn’t count.
Q:. What's your take on fans expectations in regard to chasing the championship dream or a night of entertainment? That annual state of union address"we want to win the championship" seems a tad flawed after 17 years!
We all spend our after tax dollars differently. I love live NBA but I want value for the entertainment dollar. Funny this year, team was in lower quartile with a top ten ticket price but has been entertaining on many levels. interested in your views.
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: I agree the "we want to win the championship" mantra is old and tired and true only in the abstract. Of course every team wants to win a championship but only one can.
What I'd rather hear from team officials would be something like this:
"We want to put a team out there that fans can be proud of, one that is hard-working anew as talented as we can get, knowing full well that it takes skill along with a large dose of luck -- good luck for us, often bad luck for our rivals -- to be one team out of 30 standing at the end of the year."
In my opinion, I think of sports seasons as a series of one-off entertainment events designed to build a continuing story arc that may build to a post-season crescendo.
I guess the simple answer to the very first part of your question is that fans should expect little more than consistent nightly entertainment on a path leading to places no one can envision because there are too many variables to take into account.
Q: I know you are probably exhausted with the Bargs questions but I have one more. I've been reflecting on the situation and I feel like there are a number of variables involved in making this situation as messy as it has become. If you had to assign a percentage of blame on BC, the fans, and Bargnani for the current situation, what would your percentage break down look like?
Points for consideration:
BC: I don't think I've ever heard BC mention that he was going to attempt to trade a player publicly like he did of Bargnani after the Rudy transaction. He said he was going to look at moving him and then never did! I can't hep but feel that this exacerbated the Bargnani situation.
Fans: At the same time, the fans compounded the situation by booing! Have you EVER seen a home town player booed like that? Obvioulsy Bargs is not going to respond kindly to being booed. Fans are, in part, responsible for Bargs' poor play!
Bargnani: a) Though it's been argued something was lost in translation, he shouldn't have mentioned something about Raps being the worst team in the NBA early in the season b) Being overtly mentioned as trade bate, and being booed by home fans is not going to motivate a player! c) Obviously he is getting paid to play, and should play to the best of his abilities
A: I am absolutely exhausted with Bargnani questions, as are hundreds or thousands of others, I imagine.
And you can’t put percentages on it, that’s kind of silly but it’s mostly on him. I don’t care what Bryan said, he was speaking the truth (as he was two or three years ago when he spent the whole summer telling us he was going to move a point guard and no one got in a snit) and the fans? Well, they’re the fans.
Q: Hi Doug,
Long time reader of your blog. I usually enjoy reading about the state of the Raps over breakfast. Thanks for all of the hard work.
I'm an ex-pat living in San Francisco. I always go to the Warriors game when the Raps are in town but, alas, work will keep me from making the game this year; I'll have to read your IGBT
Don't have a question but, as I know you are a bit of a beer connoisseur, I thought I would give you a suggestion for a local brew. If you can, try something from the Russian River Brewing Company. I highly recommend Pliney the Elder. It has been voted best beer in the US a number of times over the last 5 years. Might be difficult to find, but it is worth it.
A: I’ve heard so much about Pliney the Elder but have never seen it; am always on the look out.
And since part of Sunday will be spent the Buena Vista coffee house before we strike out for the evening, I will be on the lookout for Russian River products. Hope I can find a nice pilsner.
Q: Hello, Doug!
The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is happening now, and it seems to operate like most conferences with keynote addresses, panel discussions and as a forum for the presentation of research papers. Oh, and I would suppose sponsors and their hospitality suites. Reading the website, the whole thing looked a bit too "number-y" for me, but there was one panel discussion I'd
have loved to attend. Moderated by the one and only Jackie MacMullan, its panel features Stan Van Gundy, Brian Burke, Bill Polian and others, and the topic, "It's Not You, It's Me"...and discusses, again according to their website..."as Jeff Van Gundy asserted at last year's conference, coaches get fired with too great a frequency, what the data tells us about how high profile sports breakups impact performance on the field, and discuss whether there are lessons to be learned from some of the most well-known makeups and breakups in the world of professional sports."
Now, that's a discussion I'd like to sit in on. And while the research papers being presented deal with all sports, many explore basketball...with titles such as: "Acceleration in the NBA: Towards an Algorithmic Taxonomy of Basketball Plays", "Going for Three: Predicting the Likelihood of Field Goal Success with Logistic Regression", "To Crash or Not To Crash: A quantitative look at the relationship between offensive rebounding and transition defense in the NBA", "The Dwight Effect: A New Ensemble of Interior Defense Analytics for the NBA" and "Live by the Three, Die by the Three? The Price of Risk in the NBA" (Although to cut back on Raptors' ill-advised 3's would diminish some of the 'added enjoyment' of many of the IGBT's!).
Anyway, the titles are formidable, but I'd think the discussions could prove to be interesting and probably useful to NBA teams. I understand many teams were sending representative to this conference. Do you know if the Raptors had delegate attending? And have you ever been to a Sloan Analytics Conference? If not, do you think you'd find it interesting? Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: I've never been and believe much of it would be far too academic for my liking although the one panel you mentioned would have been cool.
Now, I am not for a second diminishing the amount of work that would gave gone into those other papers and I'm sure -- well, I hope -- they had some real-life value but I once asked an NBA executive -- whose team was represented there -- what he thought of it, really, and he said: "A lot of it is a job fair."
And, the Raptors had their analysis guy, Alex Rucker, there this year.-
Q: Hi Doug,
This is the first time I have submitted a question so you should take some pride in the clear way you explain things in your writing. My question is about the leaving of Jay Triano. I haven't seen much from the media in way of explanation and I can't recall the organization stating why they parted ways. I know it is not Jay's nature to sling mud or anything else but I thought he did a decent job as coach, certainly as well as Casey. Was there a disagreement in philosophy or was it made clear to him that his services were no longer required? Or another reason?
Thanks for not indulging the hysteria of some fans. There is lots of that on the other blogs.
A: I mean this with absolutely no disrespect but we all explained that years ago when it happened: There was no one "thing" that brought about the move other than the organization's desire to move in a different direction. And I agree Jay was a good coach, different but no better or worse than many, and I'm glad he's back on an NBA bench.
Q: Not a bball direct question but: Might you know what happened to the regular Raptors announcer, Herbie Kuhn? It didn't sound like him at the ACC recently.
A:He's just been off a bit tending to some personal matters -- i did not press the matter further when i asked -- and should be back about the time we return from this trip.
And the fellow who did a nice job replacing him is actually the PA announcer for the TFCs.
Q: Greetings, hoping all is well. Digesting the characterization of Nash coming to Toronto as not being interested in being a "circus" act. Perhaps oddly, I think I see what he meant which leaves me with a question for you. To change the perception of life as a HOTH one can assume, simply, that they need to win. However I would suspect that it is no where near as simple as just that. Possibly the performance of the hiearchy of the club is considered even well above the team on the floor. Would/could you give me/us your take on some of the maturing steps that the Rap's need to take that will serve to change the perception/reality of our local squad being thought of as some type of also ran? I can understand where Nash wouldn't want to be in the position of being presented as some sort of "saviour", when he is well aware that he is unlikely to be playing the game long enough to still be here when the team might actually be good.
Feel free to delete this next little bit if you see so fit.
I have followed the IGBT, your writings and those that you have lead me to for some time now, and I have very much enjoyed and place significant value in this. It irritates me no end that faceless posters take completely unreasonable shots at you personally, we are ALL very fortunate that you actually do what you do. People's abilities to articulate their thoughts and opinions vary, certainly, occasionally I do think that your response may be a little extreme but then you have far more sense of the context in which you would have read the offending comment in the first place.
In the realtime format of the IGBT especially, is an oppurtunity for something to be misconstrued from it's intended meaning. I am working on year 37 of dealing with the great unwashed public as a proprietor of a retail business, I have had people threaten to kill me, make the assumption that I possess the intelligence of a small soap dish, accuse me of being a thief etc. After 37 years I also have a loyal and generous following of those that (fortunately) support what I do in my business. Each and every day can bring both ends of the spectrum to light, some days I question why and some days exactly answer why I do what I do. Integerity, honesty, the strength to admit a mistake and perhaps moreso the strength to stand up for what you believe in encapsulates, at least for me, why I have been succesful to the degree I have.
I take inspiration from the manner it which you comport yourself as gleaned from your assorted writings( not to say I always agree) and I am sure well beyond myself support you in your endeavours, please don't let the misguided, the plainly ignorant, cause you to compromise what you do for us.
Thanks for what you do
Doug T, Brantford
A: I think the braintrust needs to find a way to make the team a consistent winner and any mispercepions will be cleaned up. This organization already treats its players well wiht the services available to them, they have a great charter aircraft, they stay at the very best hotels. All the little things – except being more successful on the court – are taken care of.
I think consistency in a style of play is important, as is stability in coaching and the front office and on the roster.
And thanks on the other stuff, I may get cranky every now and then but ...
Q: Hi Doug,
I've noticed that even though the Raps are winning more, I'm enjoying the games less. Sure, the last couple games have been stinkers, but set those aside, and I still miss having Jose run the point. I miss the ball movement. With all the contested mid-range jumpers -- whether they go in and it's a win or they rattle out and it's a loss -- I just don't find the game as fun to watch. I guess I'm not enough of a fan to be pleased just by additional W's.
I know you're not a fan, and you always say you cheer for the story, but I'm wondering: are there styles of play you prefer to cover? Would your job be more enjoyable if the Raps played a 7 seconds or less offense, or the flex or something? Or is it enough to find a good story whatever the style?
Thanks, and keep up the good work.
A: You’re definitely not alone in your assessment or opinion, at all. In fact, I’d say you are the majority.
Personally, I like a game with flow and movement of ball and man where everyone is invovled and it is, as I’ve said before, reminiscent of a ballet on hardwood. We don’t get that nealy often enough and, yes, some games are basically unwatchable.
Q: "So if you're looking for 30 minutes a night for Terrence Ross or 40 minutes a night for Jonas Valanciunas or 15 minutes a night for Quincy Acy, you're not going to get it yet.
Please don't whine, it's not your decision and until you get Dwane's job, there's nothing you can do about it."
You can be a frustrating guy to read. Why treat your readers with so much cynicism? Totally unappealing, even when I agree with you. I know it's probably frustrating now that everyone in the world has access to media members at the click of a button, and that you read the same sorts of sentiments over and over, and they might not necessarily be the most thoughtful ideas, but I'm surprised on a regular basis by how much contempt some writers show the fan base. It's not a good look.
Take care Doug.
A: I’m probably a frustrating guy to talk to sometimes, too. And I don’t think it’s contempt, it’s a conversational style. If you want contempt, you should have seen how I wanted to answer the guy who suggested two trades three months ago: Calderon for Rondo straight up and Bargnani and Kleiza for Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour. Now, that should have brought out contempt.
Take care, Bryn. Thanks for reading.
Q: If it was up to you, who would you have included in the Gay transaction, Ross or Davis? It sounded like Memphis originally wanted the former. I understand that Ross will be good some day, but we already have DeRozan and Gay, and boy, we are pretty weak at power forward.
A: Yes, there is a weakness at power forward now but no one knew how Bargnani could have come back and if he improves, that still makes Davis the fourth big, most likey. So, as hard as it was to swallow, I would have put him in the deal instead of the 22-year-old kid who might turn into your third swingman.