The weekend mail starts with a tune for the ages ... and the day
You know what I did Saturday night?
Well, I watched TV and had a pretty darn good night but I did not answer mail so …
This is what’s done know, I know there’s more to do so let me give you this and I’ll putter on the rest sometime this morning.
Oh, and be back for 1 p.m. if you like, before you start the St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans.
This might bring a tear to your eye.
Tell me how good this sounds.
Q: Greetings Doug,
Two items of note came from the frenzy that was He Who Shall Be Mildly Grumbled At's return to Orlando and they both come from the pictures of the media scrum. The first was two Canadian sports stations using hockey sticks as boom extensions. Do you know if that is a management decision to show 'just how dedicated we are to sports' or just media guys being frugal? The second relates to the use of smart phones. Most of the Internet (ok, reddit) believed that sports bloggers were the ones sticking their phones into HWSBMGA's face to record the proceedings. Is this an accurate representation or does the ink-stained wretch brigade use them in lieu of carrying a tape recorder? What is your tool of choice?
A: The hockey sticks are becoming more present because the scrums are getting so much bigger, it’s a lightweight way to get the microphone close to the guy doing the talking. And you see more and more cameramen toting small step-stools as well so they can get a good angle. Me? I usually try to wait out the huge crowds on the periphery and then get to whoever it is in a quieter moment.
And, yes, several players and coaches I’ve talked to don’t appreciate the use of phones because sometimes you have to put them so close to a subject’s mouth it’s awkward.
Personally, I use a top-of-the-line digital Editrole recorder that allows me to stay pretty far away and not get too intrusive. I also try to scribble quick one- or two-word notes and time codes so I can fast-forward to the part of the tape I need.
I have noticed all year that a lot of the Raptors have gone with OLD SCHOOL JORDAN'S. At one point I think I saw 5 on the court at one time, are they trying to trend? Re birth of the cool?
A: They’re trying to be comfortable; nothing more, nothing less.
Love the blog, hope you keep it up!
Since we all lost an hour of sleep this weekend... a question came up: do you have any stories to share when USA and Canada had different schedules for DST? Like flights, game schedules, deadlines, etc?
A: I’m glad I don’t, actually, because I’ve never missed a flight or been late to a game or a practice because of it. I do recall, however, being a tad confused when a couple of states – Indiana and, I believe Arizona – used to stay on regular time when everyone else changed. It was odd in Indy because you’d have a 7 p.m. Eastern game early in the season and an 8 p.m. start late in the year when, in fact, it was the same time.
Got it figured out, though. And now it’s normal.
Q: I watched the Lakers and Magic game where the Magic employed the Hack-a-Howard strategy. It sure was boring, and in the end, not effective.
In the attached article, D'Antoni talks about not liking the strategy, but the author goes on to say that any rule change would have to go to the rules committee. I'm curious to know your thoughts on the strategy, and if you don't like it, how would you eliminate it? Personally, I don't think changing the rules is a good solution, I'd like to see the coaches teach their players to shoot free throws. There's no excuse for a professional to shoot an unguarded shot worse than half the people sitting in the stands. That's the only reason this strategy is employed.
Here is the ESPN article. http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/9049776/mike-dantoni-los-angeles-lakers-not-happy-orlando-magic-hack-howard
A: I don’t like the “strategy” actually because it’s not in the spirit of the game but I can, at some level, understand the reasons it’s employed.
But I don’t know what the answer is, aside from what they’ve done to take it out of the last two minutes of the game by giving the team fouled two shots and the ball. “Intentional” is kind of subjective and if you put that last two minute rule in the entire game, what’s to say a foul committed away from the ball unintentionally (grabbing a guy going around a screen, wrestling or holding the post) couldn’t be deemed intentional by some less than good official?
It’s a tough one for the competition committee to deal with and I don’t see an answer. And yes, that’s how a rule gets changed: The competition committee – GMs, coaches and players – makes recommendations to the board to either accept or reject.
And, yes, some players are horrible foul shooters and could probably work harder on them is valid but the suggestion that everyone should make almost every one they take because it’s an easy shot is dead wrong. No, you’re not guarded but standing there perhaps exhausted and beaten up from the grind of the game with the adrenaline flowing and 18,000 fans screaming is not by any means easy.
It’s why every team at every practice makes sure players shoot free throws after sprint drills or after shooting drills when the legs and arms and mind might be a bit weary.
Q: Hi Doug
On occasion when watching the HOTC on TV, the camera has panned across the media section, and I've noticed your countenance is usually rather dapperly attired. When you've done some video work on your blog however, your apparel is perhaps less … swanky. Is there a dress code for grunts to attend games? If so, who enforces it? Do wallets get lightened if the code is violated, and where does the money go?
Thanks for keeping the blog interesting despite the groundhog day feel of the season!
Dr. M. Sohail Gandhi
A: No, there’s no dress code, it’s a personal choice and I just figure a shirt and tie at games is appropriate attire. And I’d guess it’s about a 50-50 split around the league, lots of more casual looks out there.
And when I’m at the office – where I do most of the video work – is a far more, um, relaxed setting so I can be a bit scruffy.
Q: Hello Doug!
Well, London's done a nice job of hosting these World Figure Skating Shenanigans according to most visitors. And that's nice to hear, 'cause we've been working hard to get it right for quite a while. But, there's a group of people working the event who've been complaining - loudly in some cases! - about an apparent oversight. And that is the lack of (adequate or was it any) heat in the Media Tent. Yikes! and Sorry! That must've really sucked. Especially with the frigid temperatures in town this week. Hopefully the coffee was warm.
So, my question for you, Doug, can you remember covering an event where the media accommodations were a challenge for you in getting your job done? And how about the other end of the reporting spectrum? Was there an occasion where the event planners exceeded expectations and provided facilities that were outstanding? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: I heard from the First Lady Of The Beat and Stumpy that the media tent was freezing, they were unimpressed but got the work done.
I have worked in some odd locations but not too many, actually. When the HOTH had training camp at Brock, we were housed in what was basically a storage closet with extra field hockey stick, balls, nets and other crap that made it, um, cozy. Oh, and dusty.
Other than that, it’s basically been workable at almost every place I can recall.
But here’s one: For some reason one day I had to talk to Oak at Dundas Square in Toronto – he was in town for some NBA-related event – and it was late on a Saturday afternoon and there was nowhere to type.
I ended up sitting in the back of an 18-wheeler they used to transport the various baskets and props, in the dark with my computer on my lap writing. I think I might have stolen, or borrowed, a wireless network that was available to file, or maybe I wrote in the truck and went somewhere to file.
Anyway, Stevie Boy Russell got a pic of me in this truck, laptop in lap tying and I’ve somehow lost it. Too bad, it was a pretty good representation of some difficult working conditions.
Q: Just noticed San Antonio has won 50 games for 14 years in a row and have also qualified for the playoffs 10 years in a row(longest current streak).
They don't get a lot of publicity (you've been generous), love to watch them. The ball movement, fundamentals, unselfishness, focus, high level of professionalism, also like the manner they conduct business.
10 years in a row? We'll be happy with one!!
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: Absolutely the model franchise that every team in the league should try to emulate. Small market, seldom have to pay a luxury tax because they manage payroll well and they just go about business in a businesslike manner.
The key: Stability. Front office and coaching and style of play; they do things the way they want, the same way all the time and get people to fit their system rather than change the system.
It’s the textbook way to run a franchise.
Q: Hi Doug,
I loved the rant about refs. As a coach, I teach players to adjust to the refs. The guys in stripes need to make judgments a sometimes get it wrong. But as a player, they have to stay focused. Refs also have different styles. Some let the game flow and others call everything to keep things in check. Either way, the player needs to adjust their game according to what the ref calls. I practice this as well by purposely making bad calls in scrimmages to get players used to it.
We all know professional coaches and players will watch game film to learn how to play against different teams. Do you know if the refs do the same? Are they reviewing game film to find the little indicators that suggest the right call? If they blow a call, do they look at what they missed and what they could look for next time to avoid making the mistake again? If so, is there anyone that works with them to help point out mistakes? Could refs also have coaches?
Terry M, Antigonish
A: Referees see video of their work – provided by their overseers at the league office – after every single game they work. They see questionable calls they might have made incorrectly and are able to look at such things as positioning on the court to make sure they have the best angle and contentious plays they may have to explain.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years that I’ve seen officials sitting in a Marriott lobby bar having a bite to eat late after a game with laptops open looking over video from that night’s game.
Q: Hello. In honour of the remainder of the Raptors season, does Super Son know “Sleep Walk” by Santos and Johnny? It would be a good tune to learn.
TOD query: Would you use Happ as the fifth starter over Romero? How about Bargs, or is he slated for Tommy John surgery?
Have a "Wild Weekend" ( Rockin Rebels)
Bob E, Kanata
A: The Happ-Romero issue is a tricky one, no? It’s not like either of them have been lighting it up all spring and I honestly don’t know which one would be my fifth guy right now. Haven’t looked at the schedule like I’m sure Griff has to see how many times they’d need a fifth starter in the first month when there are more than the usual days off but maybe one of them jumps up and grabs the job between now and then. Today? Neither instills an awful lot of confidence, do they?
Q: Greetings fine Sir.
I have a question that comes about from a comment an irregular made regarding the reception that Jose Calderon might get when he returns to the ACC. I agree with you that in many ways he was underappreciated by fans for what he did. I know you shy away from predictive player comparisons (See Bargs as the next Dirk as example #1), but after a large sample size I found that Jose's career numbers are incredibly similar to Hall of Famer John Stockton. Shooting % are near identical across the board, with Jose a bit stronger in FT% ( .878 to - .826). Stockton had the edge in assists per game (10.5- 7.2) but Stockton also had a higher turnover rate (2..8pg to Jose’s 1.7) meaning.. if my math is right (and that is always a good thing to question) .. Jose had a better assist to t/o ratio (4.2 a/t -3.75) than Stockton did.
So why does one get held in high regard while the other has, for years, had such scorn and contempt heaped upon him as being no good and ship him out asap? Does being n part of a contending team really mean that much to a player's reputation? So a few questions (speculative of course) came of
this. If we had been winning at a higher level, do you think the attitude of fans towards Jose would be more appreciative as is Stockton by the Jazz fans? How might fans have criticized Stockton had he played on some of the less.. ummm... skilled editions of the Raptors and would he have still been Hall of Fame worthy with the same numbers but not the playoff success? And lastly, who are some of the players that you would consider to have had their reputations enhanced had they the opportunity to play on a higher quality championship team?
Thanks as always
A: It’s got everything to do with career success, I think. The raw numbers are what the raw numbers are but playing for so long like Stockton did and being part of so many championship-calibre teams sets him head and shoulders above.
Longevity and team success always tip the scales.
Q: Hi Doug,
Trust that you and superfamily are in good health.
Regarding the greatest Laker's twosome, a major omission: Baylor and West.
First, the greatest twosome ever over an extended period, not just Lakers.
I saw both score 40 + in a game at the L A Arena, December 1961. Second, the Magic/Kareem years were shared by Scott, Worthy, Green, Cooper while the B-W years were shared by Loscutoff and for the last five Goodrich. Needless
to say the former won five titles, the latter none.
You missed Dalembert and Kris Joseph (on the roster) on the Canadian list.
A: That Bayor-West miss was a major gaffe; not sure I how it slipped by, guess I was limited to the choices.
Yeah, missed on Dalembert but Joseph, both Kris and Cory, were in the D League, I believe. Although Cory’s up now that Tony Parker is hurt and I was hugely impressed with the way he handled himself for the bits of the Thursday game against Dallas that I saw. No wonder they weren’t going to give him up when the Raptors called around the trade deadline.
Q: Hello Doug,
I'm not sure if you have seen this story on Chris Wright.
He's the first active NBA player to disclose his MS.
I think that this is way cool!
Have a great day.
A: Very cool, indeed.
Long time, first time.
It seems to me, that Andrea was put in the unenviable position of being a #1 overall pick by Bryan Colangelo, which in turn lead to the fans wrongly having huge expectations of him which were never justified.
More than Andrea, Bryan needs to take the fall for this and the over all vexing performance of the Raptors. We need a new direction...............
Why do the Raptors have such a European Fetish when there are tons of good players south of the border even local grown talent.
I would really like you to do an article on Bryan Colangelo's draft record------------ lets start with Andreas draft class.
A: Let me ask you a question: Do you want a “new direction” by blowing up the pieces the current general manager put in place or do you want a “new direction” with these guys simply getting better? Just wonder.
Okay, here’s your draft list of the last five years and the five guys who were taken immediately behind the player drafted by Toronto:
2012: Terrence Ross, 8
9: Andre Drummond
10: Austin Rivers
11: Meyers Leonard
12: Jeremy Lamb
13: Kendall Marshall
Who’d you take, knowing the roster and it’s needs?
2011: Jonas Valanciunas, 5
6: Jan Vesely
7: Bismack Biyombo
8: Brandon Knight
9: Kemba Walker
10: Jimmer Fredette
2010: Ed Davis, 13
14: Patrick Patterson
15: Larry Sanders
16: Luke Babbitt
17: Kevin Seraphin
18: Eric Bledsoe.
2009: DeMar DeRozan, 9
10: Brandon Jennings
11: Terrence Williams
12: Gerald Henderson
13: Tyler Hansbrough
14: Earl Clark
Maybe Jennings but there wasn’t a need.
So, given that the draft is a total crapshoot where you try to project the talents of teenagers who may have never lived alone away from home and who have no clue what it takes to be a professional – and given that some players drafted in the 20s pan out – I have no problem getting two starters in Valanciunas and DeRozan, a kid they developed well enough from a raw rookie into someone that could be packaged for Rudy Gay and a kid in Ross who may turn out while not drafting higher than five.
And I am not going back seven years and I am not going to dignify “European Fetish” with a comment.
Q: Hi Doug,
As much as you do not want to address Bargnani questions, I have one for you because I think it makes sense.
Can the Raptors make Bargnani available to any takers in the Euroleague?
If so, how does that affect their cap space?
I think it makes a ton of sense to go back there for at least a season, regain his shot (and confidence) and just be able PLAY without this huge expectation on his back every time he steps onto the court.
AT, Niagara Falls
A: No, impossible to do.
Q: Courtesy of Bill Simmons: "Rudy Gay is shooting 25 percent on shots from 16 to 23 feet (the worst percentage of anyone who attempted three-plus shots per game from that range) and 23.3 percent from 3 (the worst percentage of anyone who attempted three-plus 3s per game)."
My question is about a culture of accountability. With the possible exception of Kevin O'Neil (who, for all his other faults, did in fact hold his star players accountable), every Raptors coach in recent memory has TALKED about instilling this culture but has done absolutely nothing to hold his top players accountable. Oh, they've all benched rookies or scrubs
for actual or imagined sins. That's easy. But they've never sat their star players when the latter have been giving a half-ass effort or consistently doing the wrong thing. Rudy Gay is the worst shooter from 16 feet out in all the NBA. Breathtakingly bad.
And yet he keeps firing up bricks from distance, game in and game out. I imagine that Coach Casey has told him: Yo, Rudy, you might wanna, oh, I dunno, stop taking all those long shots that never go in and instead take it to the rim more often or at least shoot jumpers from closer in (and if he hasn't suggested that, then that brings up another issue!).
And yet, Rudy keeps taking those shots. So if a coach truly wants to demand accountability, then the best way is to sit your star player, which sends a message not just to him, but everyone else
on the team. Yet this coach simply won't do that. Accountability isn't just for rooks and scrubs, it's for everybody. Pops has no trouble doing this, nor do a handful of other coaches. Does it take a player such as Bargs to underperform SO badly that he is within an inch of being tarred and feathered by the fans for a Raptors coach to feel comfortable sitting a star player? Does DC fear for his job and feel that he's not on solid enough ground to be able to bench a star player? I mean, there has to be a
reason why he is not demanding accountability in the only way it really matters. Any insight would be greatly appreciated, Doug.
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: I understand what you’re saying, I really do. But it’s such an over-simplification to say “just sit him down all the time” it’s not even funny.
There are so, so, so many factors to put in to play it’s going to be hard for me to explain, and I’m certain that it won’t be satisfactory.
Yes, Rudy takes some bad shots and misses them; everyone in the NBA does and the stats you rattle off are, I’m sure, dead correct.
But the simple fact is – and this goes for all sports – your better players get more leeway, everyone is not treated the same, nor should they be, I don’t think.
So you put up with bad nights from your best players because while Gay was awful in that game out in L.A. he was excellent taking much the same shots against Charlotte here on Friday.
Now, does Terrence Ross get to fight through bad stats? No. Does Amir Johnson or DeMar DeRozan? Yep, they do.
You can be sure the coaches point out bad shot selection in many video sessions and wish every look was an on-balance, 12-footer that’s almost a sure thing. But for as much as they talk to players and show them the error of their ways, when the game’s at speed and a shot is there, the guy is mentally trained to take it, whether it’s a “good” one or a “bad” one is often determined by whether it goes in or not.
Simply jerking a guy in and out of a game – especially a guy who is one of your better players and has earned over his career the chance to screw up because he takes a few bad shots is a bad message to spend.
It’s not a democracy; all players are not created equally, nor treated equally.
And while your KO analogy is good, he lived through some wild Jalen Rose shots and plays and let him stay out there to mess up every now and then.
Oh, and if that first musical thing was sweet, this is pretty darn good, too. Not the same, but equally good.