The start of the weekend mail
Solid start, folks.
And lots more for tomorrow that I was too lazy to get at Friday or Saturday morning.
But you need to read this if only to see the very cool video that's just after the break.
Q: Hey Doug
Just thinking about the announcement of the Toronto NBA Franchise's name choice. If I remember correctly, there was a name the team contest (I submitted "loyalists", just because I thought it would be awesome to see team execs squirm explaining that one to American media) which in the height of the kiddie love-in with Jurassic movies (about dinosaurs that weren't even from the Jurassic era) left us with the "Raptors".
I remember wondering "what will happen with that name's relevance once people forget the movie fad?" I know there are some odd basketball team names in College hoops, but they usually have some type of significance or story behind their use. But Raptors is odd because of a merchandising plan 20 years ago. I think Charles Barkley, being the visionary that he is, foresaw this moment in the Rap's first season when he dared ask what everyone now thinks, "What the hell is a raptor?"
I think he was right, what do raptors, dinosaurs or birds, have to do with Toronto? Is there anything new on the rebranding/name change of the raptors?
A: There’s nothing going on with that, it’d be a two-year process if they wanted to do it and I think they’d only do it as a cash grab.
I have no problem with Raptors, actually, and it has as much to do with Toronto as Jazz does with Utah, Lakers with Los Angeles, what the hell are “Clippers” and with googling, how many of you could figure out what a Knickerbocker is?
Q: Hi Doug!
I always enjoy your blog. Thanks!
My question may not be a great one really. I was just wondering that if the front office is okay with more or less "standing pat" with Bryan's team, why did they get rid of him and hire Masai? If the team does well, isn't that essentially because Colangelo did a good job? If the team doesn't do well, isn't that the time to fire him? In either case, "standing pat" seems like tacit recognition that Bryan did a reasonable job at roster construction. Why then the "demotion"?
A: They may not have made substantial change to the roster yet but it may come and like any senior management change at any large company, the ultimate bosses wanted a different voice, a different personality and perhaps a different direction.
Were they right in doing it? I guess only time will tell, I would have left Bryan on the job for at least this year but it wasn’t my decision to make.
Over the years, I've been reading a lot about "specialist" assistant coaches. The Raptors had a well-respected assistant/advisor who just worked on shooting form, as I recall, and Alex English had to be a great role model for the entire team to improve its offence. I think Patrick Ewing can't get a head coaching interview because he's seen as a "big man" coach. I heard "The Dream" charges $100k for a week of post training that helped Lebron and Kobe as well as a score of today's bigs. I even saw mention recently of Rick Barry trying to get noticed by suggesting he could make Lebron a better shooter.
I see these specialists as a positive for a team. I think Mr. Ewing probably helped Dwight Howard (well, as best as he could) in Orlando and that Amir Johnson is a remarkably better shooter now than when he came to the Raptors, thanks to the help he received. Do the Raptors currently have anyone on the team who works in this capacity? I mean, more than just a "defensive coordinator", someone who works with the team on just a handful of specific skills?
I think this part of the game isn't analyzed all too often and I'd like a little insight about it with regards to our team as well as your opinion on the importance of these types of coaches.
Also, I liked your link to the Ramones a few weeks ago; where do you stand on The Stooges?
A: I think the idea of a “specialist” coach is over-rated and over-stated, actually. I’ll dispute that Patrick Ewing did anything extraordinary with Dwight Howard, whose offensive game is barely advanced past what it was when he was a rookie and, yes, Alex English worked very well with Amir Johnson but it’s not like Alex was a big man when he was putting up his 25,000-point career.
On this staff this year? There is no one who you would call a “specialist” in any specific area, they are capable of teaching the finer points of the game to pretty much anyone on the team.
Yes, The Dream is a coach for hire; and I don’t know that whatever Amar’e Stoudemire or Howard paid him was money particularly well spent.
So I guess the short answers is, no, they don’t have a big man coach, they don’t have a point guard coach, they don’t have a wings coach.And The Stooges are the best!
Q: Hello Coach...Do you think the rug has anything to do with the huge number of errors committed by the TOD? Why would any free agent want to play on that surface? Have they made more errors than the Mets in their first year of operation? Stengel once asked, " Can anybody here play this game?"
Who is more likely to have a better shooting percentage this year, Landry Fields or "Coin-Toss" Ross?
Which player will be featured in a lousy commercial that will run incessantly on NBA Canada TV?
Will MU ever sign an older character guy for the team?
Hope you enjoyed the summer!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I don’t know but if I look up and TOD have Dick Stuart at first base, I’m not sure I’d be surprised. The turf was supposed to be an issue with Reyes and then he blows out an ankle on dirt in KC. Odd.
I’m betting Ross on the field goal percentage and since we had Turk and the pizza and Andrea and the pasta, I think we should be looking for Jonas, ad infinitum, don’t we?
Yes, they are a bit young but nothing Masai has said indicates an old head is on the way.
Q: Hey Doug, with so many NBA teams "tanking" next season, does this provide a special opportunity for a smart, contrarian GM to go in the other direction by moving draft picks and select young players for a couple of proven vets?
A: I think as the season unfolds some will undoubtedly take advantage of those giving up on the season to enhance their rosters. But that’s a December-January-February thing.
Q: Hey Doug,
I gather you've read Cathal Kelly's column on the need for MLSE teams to lose before they can get better and he brings up tanking. I know it's a popular option with fans with Wiggins this year (Not that anyone understands there's no 100% for the top pick). I was wondering if you've heard anything from execs on their honest expectations from this year and what instances during your time have you seen sports teams visibly tank and how did it work out for them?
Ryan M. in Oakville
A: Their honest expectation is to put this team on the floor, see how it does and find out where it’s going to take them. If there are deals to be made to improve things they will.
I will tell you this flat out:
After Tim’s visit with our editorial board Friday, there is NO CHANCE at some stupid fire sale in order to hit rock bottom. Not going to happen and I think everyone needs to put “tanking” out of mind, I know I am.
Q: Hi Doug
You probably already saw this somewhere, but just in case... a video with José, Garbo, Ricky Rubio and others from the Spanish national team. They're heroes in their home country, especially for children, so it's nice to see them in this video made to combat poverty amongst children.
With the basketball players applying to play the roles of the seven dwarves in Snow White, they're telling children not to judge people by their appearances, and that everyone can be capable of working - as long as they have the willingness and do the necessary - in almost any job they want. Even without the underlying message or goal, it's just really funny to see José and Garbo in there :)
A: I hadn’t seen that, thanks!
That is absolutely classic.
Q: Can you think of any Canadian NCAA players that are probably going to be more accomplished this coming season than Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson, Myck Kabongo, Kris Joseph, Kevin Pangos, Junior Cadougan & Jordan Bachynski were their last season or are going to be?
Bo K, Mississauga, ON
A: No. But I hate NCAA basketball with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns that I wouldn’t know. No disrespect to the question but it’s unanswerable.
Q: Hi Doug
I'm a fan of ESPN's PTI and Around the Horn. It seems to me that some of the guest hosts on PTI, like Bob Ryan, and the most of the regulars on Around the Horn are seasoned journalists with a wide following and they're often from the print media. I think you would qualify in that category quite nicely. Would you ever consider doing those gigs? Have you ever been asked? I know you've done some Canadian t.v. and radio stuff, how do you think it would differ?
On a related note, based on your travels who would you consider to be the most interesting sports scribes to share a stool with? Alive or passed on.
A:I'd love one of those gigs if I could fit it into a fairly busy schedule. Had a great time doing the Prime Time Sports roundtable on Friday, as I always do.
Now, I would absolutely love to -- and have -- hang out with Bob Ryan telling stories, he's great and always entertaining. And if you want a couple of others who are great storytellers you don't have to look too far to know that My Man Perk is a classic and you might not know him but a fella by the name of Jim O'Connell, who used to do international and NCAA basketball for Associated Press, is one of the tops out there.
Q: Mr. Smith,
Thanks again for everything you do. I read with interest your discussion of the future of Canadian Men's Basketball and I was wondering this: can this squad be considered the Team that Vince Built?
Yes, I named him. Am I wrong in thinking that he deserves some credit for the current state of Canadian basketball? The generation that's now here had a bad case of Vinsanity, prompting them to pick up a basketball over a stick or a bat.
As much as some people can't let go, shouldn't we recognize the impact he had on basketball in Canada?
Thanks and all the best,
A:Some, but not as much as many want to give him, it seems. I think it was confluence of events, a perfect storm. There were societal changes that had a huge impact on it, the arrival of the Raptors and Grizzlies in the mid-90s helped, the 2000 Olympics helped greatly. So did Vince. But it's too easy to chalk it up to one thing over others, like always it was a series of events that got us where we are today.
Q: Hi Doug,
You mentioned in your recent article about Basketball Canada that you wouldn't expect Wiggins or Bennett to participate in the upcoming camp. Bennett, I totally understand coming off his injury, but Wiggins I don't. Why can't Wiggins be there? And don't you think he should be? I for one was upset that he didn't participate with the junior team at the world championships. The only justification I heard for that was that he was getting ready for college at Kansas. Well what about Tyler Ennis or Xavier Rathan Mayes, they're going to college as well but they participated. Does Wiggins still have to take some courses in order to "officially" finish high school and be eligible for college? I can see how that would be an acceptable reason! Not too sure what else would be. I personally think Wiggins should absolutely be there for the senior team's camp. I think Nash and his team should be doing everything they can to elevate this kid's game. We need him to turn into the star so many people are predicting and this camp can definitely help with that. I would love to hear your thoughts about this.
A: Because he’s at a school. And, frankly, is a more special case than the two guys you’ve mentioned. Had Wiggins forever blown off Canada Basketball, I could see some reason for worry; he’s played before, has told them he’ll play again.
I think there’s a lot of worrying going on for no reason whatsoever.
Q: Could Rudy &/or Kyle &/or Amir &/or Tyler &/or DJ get us Andrew Nicholson
Bohdan (Bo) K, Mississauga
A: I doubt it, any of them except Hansbrough or Augustin would be far too much to pay for a so-so big man to add to a team that already has Valanciunas.
Q: With all the changes in the Raptors organization, what happened to the TV announcers Matt, Leo and Jack? I noticed that Matt changed his twitter account to remove Raps the account name. Is there any significance to this change?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Nothing to it at all; talked to Matt in Vegas and everything’s the same and as far as I know at this point – and it’s early – there are no changes contemplated. I will point out, however, that the man who was in charge of the broadcast end of the business, Chris Hebb, was caught up in the senior management change this week so I think everyone’s in a waiting game. And that wait will be for a while.