The start of the weekend mail
Okay, folks, same dilemma as last week.
I got a bunch of these done with all great intentions to finish up on Saturday until I discovered I needed a break from thinking and working.
So have at these, there’ll be more – and some good ones – later on tonight because I have about a zillion loads of laundry to get at, some tape to transcribe for a couple of stories and other things that were on my mind.
See some of you around 3:30 this afternoon, right?
Q: Hello...It seems Tiger plunked one in a patron's cup at Augusta. The revealing fact is that beer is only $ 3.00 a cup at The Masters.
Any chance a Toronto sporting event would sell the stuff for $ 3.00? When was the last time you had a cheap beer at a sporting event?
How about all leagues have a game to honour # 42 once a year?
Will the Dinos have a new point guard next year? Will AB be at their training camp? Just threw those last two queries in there for fun...and consternation
Bob E, Kanata
A: Cheap beer at a sporting event? What’s that old saying?
A story: A buddy of mine goes to a Raptors game and he figures it’s time for a beer. He orders, hands guy a $20 and gets back a couple of coins. He says to the guy: “I think you made a mistake, I gave you a $20.”
Dude looks at him with the “yeah, right” glare and moves on to the next customer.
Some kind of Robinson honour would be excellent sports-wide, it’s going to be interesting this afternoon to see Jerry Stackhouse representing Brooklyn and wearing No. 42, won’t it?
Yeah, consternation, indeed. Don’t really need/want it at the moment, there’s months for it to percolate.
Q: Doug, as the season winds down a grab-bag of questions come to mind.
First, a couple of playoffs related questions: Do you think the Lakers can grab the last spot in the West in light of Kobe Bryant's injury? Also, with Toronto the only team in their division missing the playoffs, I was wondering if every team in a division has ever made the NBA playoffs with the current format in place?
As for the Raptors, do you think Sebastian Telfair comes back next season? Finally, if I want to catch one last game at the ACC, would you recommend the Boston or Brooklyn game?
Thanks for your coverage throughout the season.
Bill G, North York
A: In light of Friday, I’d say there’s a slim – very slim – chance the Lakers hold on.
And under the current format, no division has ever sent every team to the post-season.
I doubt Telfair will be back, at least that’s the sense I’m getting right now; there are other fish to fry roster-wise but if he does return, I think it’s as a last-resort.
Yikes. Hate to try to tell a person how to spend their money but I’d guess today’s game will be better but you’d have a better chance at getting some token gift on Wednesday.
If it was Super Son, I’d tell him to go this afternoon.
Q: Always enjoy the read Doug. Here's the question: can you play 'arm-chair GM' for a moment? It's the end of another season without a sniff at the playoffs and you need to decide if the team's going in the right direction or not. Do you A. re-build (or re-tool) again or B. stay the course around the current core?
Related 'arm-chair owner' question. Has Colangelo done enough in your/their estimation to keep his job for another year or is time to break with him and give someone else a shot. If the owners do that, what would be the top 3 issues for the new GM to address? Thanks for the great stuff.
A: I don’t mind the core, actually, and if you talk about moving out four or five rotation players, you get into a vicious circle of always wondering if you’ve got the mix right. I think this mix – the five starters – needs to grow together.
But you’re always re-tooling, every team in the league is looking to make moves to get better, it’s no different for good teams or bad. New York did it this year with Kidd, Prigioni and Felton, Miami with a couple of additions to the end of the rotation and Oklahoma City did it with Martin over Harden.
And, yes, I think Bryan has done enough to put the team on a track that he should get the final year of his contract picked up.
Q: I think you missed one, perhaps intentionally and that is Jose & Ed. I believe this one will be one of the last huge blunders by Colangelo. Calderon was the heart and soul of the franchise and the one PG who could get the most out of a healthy Bargs. Ed was only just beginning to blossom and given the right circumstances will become a good one!
Toronto should be looking at the character of a team as well as asset value. Sometimes you are better off taking care of the quality assets you possess.
PS: I used to wish we didn't have a franchise here in the west because I was a Raptor fan who didn't want to live with "black-outs". Now, bring on a western franchise......the sooner the better. Until Colangelo goes this franchise is doomed. My guess is that if he stays Casey goes. Casey is making mistakes but he has the right philosophy and needs better coaches around him.
Thanks for all your great work. You are my constant link to the Raptors.
A: I agree entirely that character and fit have to be taken into consideration when compiling a roster; it’s not the end all and be all but it is important.
There is no question they miss the character of both the players they dealt away, it remains to be seen how the fit is with the current group, I’m not sure they’ve had long enough yet.
And, yes, bring on another western team, I miss the road trip a lot.
Was trying to figure out if you could have an NBA team (all-time) made up of guys who changed their names as adults. We have Kareem, Mehta, and World B, which is actually a pretty good start for a team. Can you add any, I have one more in the back of my head but it isn't coming forward?
A: I don’t suppose you count (H)Akeem Olajuwon or Nene (Hilario), do you?
But how about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf? He was a far better player than Chris Jackson, wasn’t he? Except for the whole “not standing for the anthems” thing.
Almost 18 Seasons done. 6 of them with over 50 losses (about to be 7 if you include this year). 3 others with 49 losses. We've had 6 GM's. 8 Coaches. As a franchise, we're under 0.400 winning percentage. Has any other team in the league had it THIS bad for this long?? It is so hard being a Raptor fan right now.
A: Sure. Go check how long the Clippers were bad. And the Cavs. Detroit’s hardly been a roll since the championship days of the mid-2000s. The Raptors have actually won more playoff games in the last decade than the Knicks have. I’m certainly not going to do a lot of math to figure out winning percentages but there have been some other teams that have gone through hard times.
And I’m going to throw this out there, too: You can’t really count the first three years of an expansion team – which in this case was three coaches and two GMs and an awful lot of those losses – because there is a natural weeding out process before things head in the right direction. That doesn’t excuse the last five years but circumstantially, I’m not sure you should count them.
But, ues, I’m sure it’s very hard to be a fan right now but whaddya gonna do? Keep watching and hope things turn around.
The alternative? Find other pursuits for your idle time.
It strikes me you may be the longest serving beat writer in the NBA. If so, does it ever occur to you that given the way media landscapes are adapting to technology and evolving their business models you may be the last beat writer to serve approximately twenty years (assuming you get a few more seasons under your belt)?
Does it occur to you that you may have seen more mediocre basketball performances than any other beat writer in the history of the league?
What is your sense of your own contribution to the Raptors, to the NBA, to professional beat writers and specifically basketball beat writers?
Mr. Cook, Ottawa
A: Oh, there are some long-timers out there with more years in the gig than I have; not many and not all with the same publication but they do exist. And Fred Kerber, who covered the New Jersey Nets through some of the ugliest times in pro sports history, and I used have to discussions all the time on who’s seen the worst. We both think we win.
I think my contribution to the Raptors is nil because I don’t work for them and don’t have any contribution to make.
To my craft? You’d have to ask others but I would hope I’ve shown that you don’t have to be a screamer to have longevity in the business and that if you treat the industry and the people with respect, that you are steadfast in your treatment of people and stay true to your beliefs in fairness and finding good stories to tell well, you can not only survive but thrive in a very competitive, young person’s business.
Q: In a visit with the sunglassed one this week, Paul Jones argued that from here on, the Raptors are building around Valanciunas. I confess that had never occurred to me before but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. The greater the load he becomes in the middle and down low, the more room there is for everbody else. Does this make sense to you? And is it not counterintuitive to what we have been told in general this year about the NBA becoming a league of slashing wings?
James A, Victoria
A: I tend to dispute the whole vague notion of “building around” any one player – we saw how well that worked here with Bosh – unless it’s a singular talent like a LeBron, a Durant, a Kobe.
Sure, they need to put people around Valanciunas who can benefit from his presence offensively but his presence offensively wouldn’t be as great if there weren’t players on the wing and in the backcourt who were complimentary to him.
I think it’s more a process of putting pieces together that work rather htan cowtowing to one guy. One guy is never going to win on his own, has never happened and never will, but building a team that has several parts who can “beat you” always works.
Yes, Valanciunas is good and they should, and have, take more advantage of his skills but to be truly good, the rest of the team has to be solid, too.
Now, as for the specifics of a big man-oriented offence as the game evolves? I think it’s a huge bonus to have a back-to-the basket threat as long as you have some wings who can play.