The end of the weekend mail
That was a rather horrific fourth quarter for Canada on Saturday, wasn’t it?
Down one after three and out-scored 24-9 in the final 10 minute was an astonishing collapse and, as we’ve mentioned a few times, I think it speaks to the relative inexperience of this group.
And today is going to be hugely interesting. Brazil, coming off a day of rest, may not represent a “must win” game but it’s awfully close to one if Canada wants to get one of the four World Cup berths available.
How will they rebound? Asked Jay about it on a conference call after the Puerto Rico game and said he couldn’t be sure but that he thought they’d come through the disappointment well enough, all things considered.
But no one knows for sure, especially with a young group.
One thing they need is better play from the wings, the bigs are giving them solid production, can’t be many complaints about the point guard play so someone else has to step up and pick up some slack.
We’ll be watching.
And now, the end of the weekend mail why I go off to wonder what kind of pleasant surprises the day will hold.
I imagine it holds a stool or a deck and I hope some enlightening conversation as the last long weekend of the summer unfolds.
Q: Hi Doug
Now that McGrady has retired (from the NBA), he joins Kidd, Iverson and Hill on the sidelines. The only comparable players still in the league who began their careers in the last century are Duncan, Garnett, Bryant, Nowitski and Pierce, with a nod to Carter and Nash.
Since I became a ticket holder in the inaugural season, Iverson is the player that I was most excited about seeing. In dividing tickets with my co-holder, we first looked when Iverson would be playing. He is undeniably the greatest player at his size, the most athletic and fearless, perhaps the most intense. His legacy is understandably clouded by his on and off court attitude and behavior but in his time there was no pure guard who held a candle to him. I can't recall him teeing off on his teammates and injuries in explaining why he didn't win championships (although he lead a meager squad to the Conference Championship), unlike McGrady.
I contest your point about Carter being more significant that his supposed cousin in that McGrady, at his pinnacle ranked with Bryant as the best swing man in the game, and also took the leadership of the team, two achievements that Carter did not match. As to his overall career, Carter wins in longevity. Kidd was a great court general, played longer than any other point guard save Stockton, commanded the court at both ends, but couldn't shoot and had a reputation of being truculent. His off-court escapades put a pall on his contribution to the game. Hill's career was remarkable in that he recovered from severe injuries to play meaningfully for another seven seasons, but it was his demeanour, teamwork, intelligence and personality for which he is most remembered.
Doug, of these four, how would you rate them in terms of ability, leadership, and contribution to the game?
A: You bring up an interesting point about those four and what their ultimate legacies will be.
If you’re asking for overall impression at the end of their careers, at near it in Carter’s case I will say this:
For the way he handled his career and remade himself out of necessity without a single moment of “woe is me”, with dignity and class, Hill is so far ahead it’s not even funny. He was the epitome of class, in my opinion and presents one of the great “what if” cases in recent history.
The other three?
I’d probably go with Carter for his ability and his contribution to the game and while he never took a leadership role at the height of his career, he didn’t really have to. He had Oakley and Kevin Willis and Dell and Dee Brown here and then Kidd in New Jersey.
The other two are a virtual tie, in my opinion, with perhaps a nod to Kidd because he dragged some so-so Jersey teams to NBA Finals and got one with Dallas; his failings as a shooter and defender were more than covered up by his astonishing intelligence and anticipation on the court.
McGrady? You’re right, incredible talent, vastly under-rated as a passer and another one who was damaged by injuries at what might have been the pinnacle of his career. And yes, he was a leader in Orlando and Houston but the fact he had to always point it out, and discuss the shortcomings of what was around him, was off-putting to me.
Since you've been Argo boy most of the summer, and blogged a bit about the in-game experience, what do you think could make the team more relevant/popular in Toronto?
I'd have to think moving out of the dome (a la Montreal) would help.
$5 beers would be helpful too, but that seems unlikely.
A: $5 beers? It is to dream. Hell, my local would be more popular/relevant with $5 beers.
The Argos? I don’t know what they can do, they seem to have a hardcore group of around 20,000 they cannot expand.
I have said this for a while to friends, not sure I’ve typed it but barring a downtown stadium that isn’t going to happen since the Varsity idea got screwed up, they should have built a 35,000 seat place somewhere along the QEW corridor out by Mississauga-Oakville-Burlington and made it the new home of both the Argos and Ticats and tied it into the Pan Am Games stadium program.
But unless there’s a way to retrofit BMO, I think they are destined to be what they are, which is a smallish niche franchise that hangs on.
Q: Dear Doug,
Thanks for your blog and your recent answer about your basketball experience.
So you played against Jay Triano and the other stars of High School basketball of my era (although my High School won OFSAA basketball and Jay's team didn't). What position did you play? What was your best game? What is your best memory? Could you analyze your game for us the way you analyze the Raptors?
Some suggestions for other things you could cover during dead times:
The WNBA - I know Toronto doesn't have a team but there are Canadians in the league and it would nice to have a periodic update e.g. Kayla Alexander is having some flashes of being a good pro in her rookie season.
World basketball - Maybe you could research a country here and there that produces good basketball players and tell us how they got there and who their greats are.
Reports about Canadians in the Euroleague or else where.
Richard G, Milton
A: I can’t remember exactly what I did 48 hours ago and I sometimes have a tendency to forget to get off stools in time and you want me to remember my best high school basketball game from 40 years ago?
My best memories were of Friday night doubleheaders and then going to the Bon Villa before we headed off over the river.
And thanks, I’ll pass on those assignments to my editor with the suggestion that in the dead time I coast a wee bit before the 24/7 season starts.
Q: Hei Doug,
Happy to hear you’re having a good holiday. Even happier that you carry on with the blog in your down time.
I know there has been a bit of a debate over the Raptor name. As for me, I like it. It makes for a cool logo and somewhat appealing to the little ones. However, I’m curious to hear your top 5 basketball team names, the 5 worse team names and where Toronto fits. Is there a criteria that makes a team name better then another. I would assume that it would incorporate something to do with basketball or the place the team represents. Look forward to your list.
Can also recommend Lilyhammer- a very good TV series with Little Steven. You can pick it up on Netflix.
Greetings from Scot from the grand country of Norway.
A: I’m not really all that big on names, don’t give them much thought because I like logos and colour schemes more.
But I will say this: I hate inanimate objects, I don’t like Heat or Magic or Jazz or stuff like that. So my bottom five would be those three and for some reason Cavaliers bugs me so add it along with Nets because I think that’s silly and they missed the boat, they should have changed it when they moved.
And, yes, 76ers and Thunder would be a close sixth and seventh.
I really like Pelicans for some reason so that’s right there along with Spurs, I think it’s a good fit for the city, just like Pacers is for Indy and I’d probably round it out with Trail Blazers, and I kind of like Wizards.
The rest are so-so and I’d put Raptors near the bottom of the rest of them. It is unique but it also has nothing whatsoever to do with the city. That said, it’s the name and I see no reason to change it other than to enrich the coffers of Maple Leaf Sports with more merchandise sale.
My name criteria: I like unique and I don’t like animals all that much (I don’t think I’m alone in that) but I do think there needs to be some kind of connection to the city.
We've seen reports about Rudy Gay's surgery and workouts, Derozan working on extending his range, Ross working with a shooting coach and JV building up his size and strength.
I haven't seen anything about Landry Fields and his off-season activities. In my view, Landry is a key rotational piece if the team is going to step up however he has to be able to drop shots to be effective. Have you heard anything specific about whether Landry is just chilling or doing any targeted development?
A: Yeah, have heard lots. He’s rehabbing his arm/elbow regenerates itself slowly, he’s working on restructuring his shot with members of the team’s coaching and training staff. Run of the mill summer stuff, same stuff he was doing at the end of last season.
And I think we need to make this clear: Players “chill” for maybe a month and then everyone of them starts working on all aspects of their game and their conditioning. That’s across the board.
Q: With the conglomerates having their tentacles everywhere it seems what is MLSE end game regarding Raptors rights?
I understand they share the rights on the properties and the Raps footprint is very small, around 100 k a game down from the 1mm in the Vince era.
They have a younger demographic, perhaps they are focusing on mobile devices. Just seems so fractured and confusing.
Johnny C, Mississauga
PS ... Found an Italian pizza joint in San Juan PR... The name of Samuel Smith Organic Lager IPAD... Thank you for the tip.... Nice treat
A: I don’t think anyone knows what a broadcast end game is because they insist on fracturing the telecasts so much. There would seem to be no logic except to serve the corporate masters and this year with Sportsnet 360 (nee The Score) in the mix, it’ll likely be even more all over the map.
And, yes, the numbers are horrid in many respects but that, to me, speaks solely to the success of the team; if they win, people will find them and tune in, it’s be proven in the past and will be again in the future, I’d say.
Q: Hello Doug!
Loafing and lounging and napping. Oh! My! Sounds like you've really got this down-time stuff down pat. And it also seems that you're enjoying it, too. Quite a lot, actually. Hmmm. You are coming back, right? Right???
(Not that you've totally ditched us; continuing the morning blogs while you're "off" has been much appreciated!)
So, I read a sort of random news story in the NYT this week about something that happened recently in the Bulgarian soccer league (said it was random) where the Beroe Stara's were forced to finish their match in Sofia with only eight men as two of their players were shown red cards after coming to
blows while leaving the field at halftime. And I was wondering, have you ever seen anything like that while covering Real Men's Professional Basketball? (Or even any other of the many sports you report on?) And how would (did?) NBA officials handle it? Would they ever eject players on the same team for unsportsmanlike conduct? Or is it something that would be handled internally by the team? Thank you!
Oh, and if anyone's wondering, the Beroe Stara's still managed to beat the Neftohimik's 2-0.
Lorie P, London
A: Well, I remember the night in Atlanta when Rafer wouldn’t pass the ball to Jalen and vice versa but that’s as odd as I’ve ever seen. And, trust me, that was odd beyond belief.
But it’d take some major fracas to have nine of 13 teammates thrown out of a game so that a team had to play short and if that kind of Pier Six brawl broke out, who cares about the game?
Q: Hi Doug,
I've also become a huge fan of The Newsroom. Like the West Wing, it's a show that doesn't insult my intelligence and is not scared to cover complex topics. I would recommend checking out Breaking Bad. The writing doesn't give you the pace and complexity of The Newsroom, but even the predictable plot twists catch you by surprise and the characters are well worth studying.
Now my question, any news on Rudy's eye surgury? Do you expect this to have much of an impact on his game? Court vision, I would think, has more to do with predicting the flow of the game than an actual ability to see. But, I can't imagine trying to play at the highest level with a vision impairment.
So, I can imagine it will have some benefit.
A: It was out-patient surgery of the Lasik variety and as we said about four months ago when it occurred everyone was happy with the way it turned out.
And I am reminded constantly this week of that old adage:
Everything old is new again.
And I’ve told other Irregulars that I’ll give Breaking Bad a look some loafing morning next week, I hear so much good about it, I’d probably be cheating myself if I didn’t.
Q: I know that the official word was that Carl English left the team for personal reasons. Has there been any additional information on why he left?
Did his injuries play a part? Did his European team request that he leave to heal? Were there any conflicts on the Canadian team? Or was it actually for personal reasons?
If, God forbid, the SMNT don't qualify for the Worlds next year do you think that some of the young players will leave the program? Will it be harder to convenience the up-and-comers to join the program (Kelly Olynyk, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, etc)?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: No more information than it was personal reasons and I don’t feel a compelling need to pry, actually. Yes, he was banged up and I have a feeling that might have played a small role but it had nothing to do with his club team since he doesn’t yet have a contract for next season.
And, no, I think a dead summer next year will delay the likes of Bennett and Wiggins but not drive them away. Olynyk has played for about three years, he’s not going anywhere.
Q: Hi Doug,
Do you think there is a possibility that DeMar DeRozen could come of the bench for the Raptors in the upcoming season? If Ross gives a strong effort in training camp and shows a more consistent three point shooting stroke it could open up space for Jonas and Gay, moreover it would allow DeRozen to take on more prominent offensive role when he is in the game.
A: I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance that DeRozan comes off the bench. They didn’t give him a $38 million contract extension to be a back up and, frankly, no one can say with any certainty what Terrence Ross will turn into.
As for the opening of space, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue and, like last year, offence is not going to be the problem with this team. They need to defend better, they’ll score enough to win.