Time to win games, not press conferences
This right off the top:
If anyone among you thinks the fact that Drake is a Raptors fan and now some team icon or whatever will have anything whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the franchise you are either naïve or very, very, very young.
Yes, he is a gifted performer and famous and quite accomplished in his field, of that there is no doubt. And I’m sure the 2016 NBA all-star weekend party he hosts and you can’t go to will be off the hook (they still say that?)
But here’s the truth:
We have said repeatedly that “re-branding” or attracting new fans or improving the franchise’s reputation will come with on-court success, not some flashy association with a famous person. I don’t for one second believe this announcement or coupling will have one iota to do with attracting players; that’s not how the world works.
Yes, all-star weekend will be nice and Drake has been a fan and associated with the team for a long time and the Raptors will “win the press conference” this morning as my friend Jack Armstrong says.
When they win games, that’s when it counts.
End o’ quick rant.
Now, how about that team?
Today is media day, with is a slogfest of scrum interviews and taping promotional bits and getting pictures taken and it’s like the first day of school.
Work starts for real tomorrow but today is a fun show and chinwag and the optimism will abound.
We’ll figure out how good they might be over the next few weeks – right not I’d say they have, as usual, a chance to finish anywhere from sixth to 12th depending on how things shake out – but the enjoyment today is this:
Cliché time! Bold statement moment!
Here’s a sneak peak so I don’t have to tape every interview:
“Yes, we’re a playoff team, I’m tired of watching them on TV.”
“Our success will depend entirely on how we play defence and that is going to be our focus.”
“So-and-so has never looked better in his life, he’s in great shape and ready to go.”
“We have enough talent here.”
“I can’t wait to read what Doug’s going to write this season, it’s always so insightful and interesting.”
(Okay, maybe not that last one)
But, really, the optimism today will be nice, it’ll give fans something to talk about, it will be legitimate and the day may be long and relatively uneventful but it is the kickoff to the season and that’s always fun at some level.
Tomorrow? Tomorrow the real stuff starts and that’s when the ride gets good.
I find this time of year interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, there are on-court issues to be solved and here are three:
There’s a bit of a glut of front court possibilities behind Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. Who emerges from the group of Steve Novak, Tyler Hansbrough, Austin Day to earn playing time.
Has DeMar DeRozan extended his shooting range to be a consistently three-point threat? Can Rudy Gay get out there and make shots? Is Landry Fields better? What does Terrence Rose have?
Who calls the shots?
Does DJ Augustin find the confidence that made him a starter in the NBA? Can Dwight Buycks do it when, as Dwane says, the popcorn is popping and the bright light are on? Is a supposedly slimmed-down Kyle Lowry going to be better?
To me, those are the three major questions and they will only be answered over time.
Yeah, I kind of like this. You?
I’ll be relaxing and showing off the local tonight and won’t see it – much more important things to do – but there’s nothing like a one-game baseball playoff and I don’t know why but I’m really hoping Tampa wins because I’ve become quite the Joe Maddon fan and a Rays-Pirates World Series would be very, very sweet.
I know there would have been a palpable level of disappointment around the women’s national team after they finished second in the FIBA Americas qualification and that’s truly understandable.
They didn’t play their best game in the gold medal game with Cuba, no doubt about that, and that would have stung.
But at some point, that disappointment will dissipate and they will realize the fullness of their accomplishment this summer.
A berth in the third straight worlds, a silver at the qualification tournament, the emergence of two very good young point guards and the continued and much-needed presence of solid experienced veterans has this team poised to do some special things in the next few years.
And now more people are aware of them and that’s not a bad thing.
Nope, didn’t see a second of Breaking Bad for the entire length of its run, guess I should find a way to watch a marathon some day?
And, finally, I think my Argo Boy days are all but over – it’s hard to do justice to either beat by trying to do both – and I’m actually going to miss it.
It’s far more relaxed than the basketball, my man E. Holmes couldn’t be a more helpful and accommodating media guy and the players, without fail in my limited experience, were great. Engaging, chatty, willing to answer what I’m sure were inane questions from a relative newbie.
Now, the pace of the game takes some getting used to – there’s not an awful lot of “action” and a lot of stoppages – and I’m not in favour of the four buzzer-beaters I had in a row nor the three-hour length of games but I would eventually get used to it.
And I have nothing but respect for head coach Scott Milanovich, who engaged in conversation away from the Xs and Os of football that I don’t have the expertise to conduct and who was a total pro all year.
And here’s one that fans should know about his work ethic.
After Saturday’s game in Edmonton, and staring a short week in the face, he and his staff took a redeye flight home – the players and support staff stayed and flew home Sunday -- so they could hit the ground running on Sunday morning getting ready for next week.
Like I said, I don’t have the expertise right now to comment on his coaching ability although I do think it’s substantial and he will be a success for a very long time, but I do have the expertise to say that’s a very dedicated professional and nothing but good can come of that.
I hope I get a chance to check in with them every now and then between today and Le Coupe Grey Cup because it was a good time.
Not sure the readers were particularly well served – not nearly enough time at practice to develop good stories – but it was fun doing the games.