The end of the weekend mail
Good late rally, folks.
While I was off enjoying a really good, soothing Saturday getting through some things, you filled up the mailbag quite well.
Still some familiar names missing but there’s an awful lot here to digest.
Enjoy while I loaf through the early morning period.
Q: Hi Doug!
Just saw a news item about a Seattle Seahawks player who eats Skittles on the sidelines! He calls them his "power pellets" and said he's been doing it since he was 12-years old! Have you ever seen a Raptor munch candy while the game's on? Is it even allowed? And if you were to identify your personal sweet-treat "power pellet" what would it be? (I'm guessing there'd be some chocolate presence???) Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, whether it’s allowed or not doesn’t matter, it’s what you can get away with, right? I’ve never seen anyone actually eat on the bench during a game but I do remember a colleague who shall go unnamed, and you don’t know him, once ordering us two beers courtside in Jersey during a particularly wretched game in about 1997 or maybe 1996.
Without question and for a zillion good reasons, I’d have a stash of Decadent Chocolate Chip cookies at my seat every night if I could.
Q: Hello Doug,
History will probably show that this year's draft class was mediocre.
In 2014, I think it will be a different story.
It's clear that Andrew Wiggins is the prize. He may even be a future franchise player.
What does the rest of the potential 2014 draft class look like? Is it a deep and talented draft?
Could it be as significant as the 2003 draft, which included Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade?
Gary from Uxbridge
A: The word is – and we have to remember that the college season hasn’t even started yet – that this may not reach the epic proportions of the 2003 draft but that it’s awfully close. A top five pick would be gleeful for some teams
Q: Hello Doug...What with all the Conservatives talk of unbundling our TV channels, will this affect how the Raptors or Jays plan long term for acquisition of players?
Instead of this sort of pandering to the 50 per cent of us who vote, how about a 1 per cent reduction in GST? (Sorry to get political)
Back to roundball...Should MU extend Lowry right now?
Any plans to help/copy Sheridan with his Las Vegas project? Would crowd-sourcing assist in a gambling effort?
Got your snow tires on yet?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: The only unbundling that will help these guys is when or if Rogers and Bell unbundled themselves and the games can be shown on one network.
I’m all for the GST cut and we should start a movement; but, no, Masai shouldn’t extend anyone to hamper whatever flexibility he might have. And Lowry needs to prove a bit this year before anyone throws money at him.
Sheridan’s plan is grandiose, indeed, and fraught with peril so I’ll keep whatever little money I have in my pocket.
I realise that the vast majority of the games you have watched over the years involved the Raps, I was wondering if there is one game that stands out in your memory that if you had a video of it, you would want to sit down and watch it again. It doesn't have to involve the Raptors nor does it have to be an NBA game. If you can remember one then of course - when, where, why and the teams if you don't mind.
A: I’d watch Game 6 of the 1975 World Series tomorrow if I had a copy of it. Great game, great drama and the under-appreciated Bernie Carbo homer in the eighth.
Raptors? They all tend to run together but I think I’d like to see Game 1 from 1995 again.
And here’s on that might catch a few of you by surprise: That New Year’s Eve 3-3 tie between the Habs and Red Army.
Q: Hey Doug
Hearing you on PTS talking pucks was a real treat!
You mentioned Terrence Ross doesn't have the strongest motor or the highest basketball IQ. Are those learnable skills? I got the sense you aren't optimistic that he'll be able to learn those skills, and that those are imperative for his continued development.
Your comments regarding DeRozan's defence are music to my ears. I'm as excited about his season as anybody!
Enjoy the remaining dog days of preseason,
A: Oh yeah, the pucks chat was delightful but I think I held my own, somehow. Or so smart people who I respect tell me; I wasn’t a fraud.
Anyway, I’m not sure they are learnable skills in Ross’s case because it’s mental more than anything. It’s just working harder and being more cognizant of what’s going on but I also think he’s quite young and could “get it” at any time.
The DeRozan defence stuff is a combination of what I’ve seen and – more important – what teammates and coaches are telling me.
But we’ll see on that one, too, because it’s easy to lapse into old habits.
Q: With respect to how they impact their new teams, who are you most interested in seeing: Iguodala in Golden State, Howard in Houston, or Pierce/Garnett in Brooklyn? Is there another addition that intrigues you more (perhaps Bargnani in New York)?
James A., Victoria
A: Personally? Iguodala in Golden State is by far the most intriguing of those choices, and all others. I think he might be the most perfect fit of any free agent for true need and a role and I wondering just how good the Warriors might be.
Q: Hi Doug,
On a recent trip to DC I happened to walk by a movie theatre and was surprised to see a poster for Linsanity the movie.
Perhaps given the success of ESPN's 30 for 30 series I should not have been surprised that someone would make a documentary of Jeremy Lin's story.
Which player, moment, series of events from the Raptor's past do you think would make the best subject for an ESPN Documentary?
David W. in Oakville
A: I think the obvious one is Vince and how he went from being the most popular player on the team and the guy who made the franchise relevant to being the most reviled person in the history of the team.
But one I’d like to see – and it’s a more local than anything – would be how the ownership evolved and Isiah’s place in the process. Here was the first big name ever hired and then someone who wanted to put together a group to buy the team when his running mate Bitove was gone to someone who left to go do TV. Might be interesting to hear the backroom machinations of that period.
Q: Hi Doug,
First, thank you for your consistently balanced and insightful reporting. I consider myself a student of the game more than a fan, so I really appreciate your take.
Regarding the Raptors' playoff hopes, it's worth noting that last year, if we could throw out the 4-19 start, they would have been in contention. If I had to place my bet today, I would pick them to make the playoffs, although I hear you on the potential of Cleveland and Washington. Last year's starting line up was defensively challenged; AB known for poor help, JV with zero experience in NBA rotations, and wings and points likely to need more help than average. I still can't figure out how a coach noted for defense could sign off on that starting five.
The general consensus is that they are a bit big thin and wing heavy, thus more vulnerable to injury. My question is which of the wings could guard some bigs if necessary because of injury or foul trouble. I understand that depends on matchups, so who is strong enough to guard a big big, who is quick enough to guard a quick big, and who is smart to front?
A: It is true that size is an issue, and strength and that and the bench are going to be two sore spots all year, probably.
But I think Rudy Gay with the extra upper body mass can probably move over and guard some of the bigger bigs (not the monsters but who can?) and I think we may find that in the right scheme, perhaps a guy like Steve Novak can guard the more traditional stretch fours.
But you know who I think is smart enough to figure out the right way to guard almost anybody: Fields.
This whole thing does put some pressure on Dwane though to devise ways to hide bad matchups with fronting and three-quartering, and doubling and throwing in the zone every now and then.
Q: Hi Doug,
Reading Masai's comments last night reminded me of my visit to TD Gardens last year.
Now, I have been to the ACC frequently and can say that in the Vince years the atmosphere at Raptors' games was quite something. Way more enthusiastic that at any Leafs game I've been to.
However having visited the TD Gardens last season I really learned what Masai meant by "living hell". The pressure on the visiting team is huge but even more amazing is the support for the home team that pushes them to go on those 12-2 stretches of the game that end up being the difference, when a full timeout is the only way for the visitors to stop the madness.
So here are my questions. What arenas in the NBA are best at creating "living hell"s? what would have to happen for Toronto to become one? can the team become elite with the help of the fans, or do they need to be elite for the fans to be engaged?
Thanks for what you do.
A: Today? Because of the relative merits of the teams, I would say Chicago would be near the top, Utah is still there, Golden State is entirely under-rated for crowd impact. Those would probably be my top three at the moment.
Back in the day, you could put Sacramento right at the top of the list but the team sucks and no one on goes to the games.For Toronto to become one? I know from the past 18 years that if the team is good, the crowd is loud and intimidating and among the very best in the league. But they have to win first
Q: Hi Doug;
As always, thanks for the blog and your perspective.
A question: I've noticed your on going cautious comments about Terrance Ross' potential to have real future value for the Raptors. I'm curious how you'd compare him at this stage of his career with Demar a few years back. Both were picked at similar levels of the draft. I remember some of Demar's growing pains during Jay's coaching... What are you seeing and how does it compare?
A: I think DeRozan got it more quickly that Ross has so far but it is just the pre-season of Ross’s second year so we can maybe cut him some slack. A bit at least.
Both of them when they came in the league were far better athletes than they were basketball players, DeRozan has made himself into an exponentially better and smarter; I wonder if Ross can.
There was a news story this week, "Cavaliers Canadian rookie Anthony Bennett suffering from asthma, sleep apnea". The story went on to say, "Bennett has had some breathing issues during workouts and in preseason games, and him being sometimes winded." and ""It's been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he's (gasping)," Brown said."
Was this a known issue? Would it have it affected his draft position? Is it serious enough to affect his progress in the NBA? Did it affect his college play? Anything you could add would be appreciated.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Draft eligible players go under quite exhaustive medical tests both at the combine and during team visits so I would presume – and I don’t know this for sure – that something like minor asthma would be detected; I doubt they do the night-long sleep study needed to figure out apnea, though.
And obviously it didn’t effect his draft position since he went No. 1 and I can’t imagine it bothered his college career, either.
Q: Hi Doug! Ok, so my friends and I have a long running debate going on. Actually, after 10 years of arguing about it, we've all dug into our positions and we're not allowed talking about it anymore. Maybe you can help us settle this once and for all:
3 on 3 game, in their primes:
Jordan, Pippen, Rodman vs. Barkley, Olajuwon, Drexler.
Everyone but me seems to think the 3 Bulls would win easily. they mock me for thinking otherwise. I fully admit that MJ is the best basketball player of all time, but he once called Drexler the toughest guy to play against, and Rodman is a weak link. Besides, I think with Barcs and Olajuwan we'd just be too big down low to handle.
Am I right or am I right?
A: Be a helluva game. I can see going with Houston because Olajuwon might dominate but three-on-three is quickness and athleticism so …
I’ll take whoever you don’t want and be fine with it.
Q: Searching for something to ask . here's what I got:
A lot of mail bags ago, my first ever question to you was about the Lakers' lighting in L.A. and the Knicks' lighting in New York. I asked if the theatre-style lower lights were as 'cool' as they looked on tv and you said (something like), "yes, it is very cool".
Watching the Pacers at Chicago last night (and that was some not-bad-for-preseason hoops to my eyes; welcome back Derrick Rose), it looks like they dim the lights at least a bit where the fans sit but I'm not actually sure.
So first, are the lights a bit dimmer on the Bulls spectators and second, is there any reason why the Raptors wouldn't consider doing a bit of that? Personally, I'd love to see it. I think it looks great and I'd imagine that it sort of adds to the spectator experience, somehow.
WSG, North York.
A: I don’t know if they’ve made changes in Chicago and if I’m talking to someone there I’ll ask. But I’ve been told here – and I’ve asked – that the cost and the necessary retrofitting of lights around the building make it prohibitive. Now, I asked a season or so ago and that might have changed but I doubt it.
It is pretty good, that’s for sure.
Q: Hello Doug!
Whlst travelling from London to a family wedding in the GTA yesterday I had the happy surprise of tuning in to The Fan at around Woodstock. (It usually takes until the Cambridge area for the ancient car radio to pick it up clearly - and it airs for but an hour at 6pm in London when it isn't being pre-empted by the Knights' pregame, which is all the time now.) And even better was hearing you and two of my other favourite sports guys were on The Roundtable! (And the cast could only have been improved if Mr. McCown had rounded up another chair for Mr. Perkins to occupy!)
It was an entertaining, thoughtful and informative program and I wish this group was on weekly. Well done!
Now, as a kid who had a pet rabbit the discussion of the Pedroia injury was a bit cringey to listen to, but it did give some context to the phrase "under my thumb" for which I am grateful. I think. ;)
Anyway, a comment was made that some notable sports injuries/conditions eventually have players' names assigned them; i.e., Lou Gehrig Disease, Tommy John Surgery and now perhaps Dustin Pedroia Thumb. So I'm wondering, is there an ailment or persistent condition you might be tempted to name after a current or former Raptor? The best one I could come up with is Jose Calderon Hamstring. But it's early - just one coffee into the day - and the wedding was a well and thoroughly celebrated event. I'm sure you can do better! Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Andrea Bargnani Ennui? Alvin Williams Knee? Oak Mouth? The Doug Christie Four Finger Twitch? Probably a hundred more if I put my mind to it.
Q: Hey Doug
Read through the IGBT the other day and liked the discussion about the NBA age requirements. Can you just clarify the rule for me? Is it that you have to be 19 years old? Or is it that you have to be one year removed from high school?
If it is just being 19, then what if you were held back a grade or started school later and was a year older than the rest of your class. Could you then enter the NBA at 19 and straight from high school?
If it is that you are a year removed from high school, how does that apply for non-Americans? European, African, Asian countries would have different education systems where you might complete secondary school at 16, 17, 18, or 19. Even Ontario used to have grade 13, meaning that you might graduate at 19. I guess there is also the case where if you're really smart and finish high school at 16, could you join the NBA a year after that?
Lastly, while we're on the topic of entering the NBA, what would happen if the young Mr. Wiggins chose to spend another year in college? It seems like one third of the NBA has set plans on him next year.
Thanks for suffering through enjoying the pre-season for us!
A: The rule are North American players can enter the draft one year after their high school class graduation and they need to be at least 19 years old by the end of the calendar year of the draft
International players are automatically draft eligible at 22 years old and can declare their interest at 19.
Wiggins can stay in school for four years if he wants, it would tick off a lot of teams that are determined to lose a lot this year for a chance at drafting him is all.
A baseball question: Why, particularly in this day and age of concussion awareness, is a home plate collision permitted (let along celebrated)? That Ross hit on Avila is just the latest example of how this barbaric “part of the game” nonsense contributes to injuries and could unjustly affect the outcome of a game or series.
A basketball question: In pucks, proponents of fighting claim that fighting cuts down on the stick swinging and other dastardly acts. NBA basketball has a lot of contact and the players don’t wear much protective equipment yet fights are few and far between. How do the players police against overly abusive play by opponents.
A: I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do about home plate collisions since the whole point of the game is to touch the runner with the ball and figuring out some way to legislate it so he has to slow down or give up doesn’t seem plausible.
Basketball? They have simply made it illegal, the players accept and respect that and the penalties are so harsh it’s so amazingly rare that anything breaks out. It’s mindset and training and history. Pucks kids – some of them – have been fighting for years in junior hockey, haven’t they? In part, it’s learned behaviour.
Q: Greetings Mr Smith.
So I had the distinct pleasure of spending "An Intimate Evening with The Hawk"(along with a thousand or so others) this past week. Remarkable man really, on so many different levels. What he has built for himself in his career, what he has done for so many others to forward their careers, the number of people moved by his music and on and on it could go.
Great evening it was, particularly Bill Clinton's (videotape) contribution, a church sermon at Camp David using the story of a concert hall in Tulsa being torched by an irate band after getting stiffed for their money to illustrate the difference between vengeance and mercy. Apparently The Hawk's eyebrows ultimately grew back.
Anyway to the point.
As the evening went on, it was presented as a retrospective of Ronnie Hawkins' life and career, I started to think to myself that Ronnie really has very few equals in terms of his life accomplishments. One can name almost any celebrated performer and make the subsequent case that The Hawk's accomplishments easily meet or exceed anyone else's. Yet, while the appreciation of his audience was certainly evident, all of us good Canadians were very polite in the manner of showing our appreciation. Even given that Ronnie was wearing his Order of Canada award, our country's highest honour and Ronnie is one of very few Americans to be so awarded the audience's reaction to this was warm but reserved.
I find myself wondering if The Hawk had pursued his career (with the subsequent success) in his native land an evening such as last night would have had thousands in attendance, over the top applause and audience response.
I certainly hope that Ronnie has no regrets for his time here but also I would hope that somehow he has not been left feeling like somehow he has missed out on something.
And for this same reason perhaps this is something that professional athletes and entertainers take into consideration before signing with our HOTH as an example.
Perhaps the real choice for many is between fame for fame's sake or the true pursuit of one's dreams. All of us have dreams, all of us struggle to attain our dream and to varying degrees of success. I look at a Ronnie Hawkins as an example of what the human spirit can do if they are so inclined and for that reason we should all take encouragement from and make an effort to emulate his drive in our own lives.
And given the above maybe we should have offered up a raucous standing ovation for a man that, in my opinion, embodies a worthy approach to his time on this planet.
Thanks for what you do,
Doug from B-ford
A: I’m not sure that fame for the sake of fame drives these guys but rather fame as a byproduct of success. Their dreams are much the same, to win and be an impact player on a winning team and they know that with that comes fame. It’s not like they will go to a bad team just to become the recognizable name.
Q: Hi Doug
Thanks again for answering all the questions that you do. I was looking at the Raptors official site, and in glancing at the news reports on their site, came across this prelude to Mike Ulmer's writings:
"The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Raptors. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Raptors or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Raptors and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media."
I confess I found said prelude to be somewhat lowish on the believability scale since, well, the guy (who's general writing I actually quite like) is a paid employee of MLSE (or it's subsidiary). What's your take on this? (not necessarily about M. Ulmer in particular, but about sports conglomerates putting things like this ahead of their paid employees reports).
A: I think they need to put that disclaimer there and that it’s very true. He has no more access than I do, no more “inside information” than I can try to dig up. But he’s also not writing every day and trying to break news, actually, so that’s the major difference.
It’s the same with Sam Smith at the Bulls site, he works his own sources, isn’t told what or what not to write and is given no special access because of his employer.
Now, the stuff is read by an editor before it’s published because anything thrown up on the interwebs without being edited or read could be done by a teen in a basement. But it’s edited for style and grammar and stuff like that; not to tone the content.