Catching up with the weekend mail a day late
A bit of a different start to the week, I figure after all the trouble we went through with the mail last week, if you could find a way to get questions in, I should find a way to answer them.
That and yesterday was such a non-day of travel, writing and collapsing on the couch far too early (it did make for a nice time lying around wide awake about 2 a.m.) there’s not a lot else I’d have to offer.
Plus, facing four games in five nights starting tomorrow, cruising into the week seems a good idea.
Enjoy this and we’ll be back to normal tomorrow.
Q: Hi Doug,
I am out of the country for 3 months this winter and count on your blog for my live action Raps fix as no one else carries the games. Someday some will be on in the States we hope!
Tired of tank talk as it must affect players performance no?
It will be fascinating to see what MU does at year end with this team. They need to play tight team ball like last night very quickly or else. Agree?
Yeh Toronto Star. 40 year subscriber and never prouder than with Ford stories!
Thanks for putting in the long hours for us.
Paul in Burlington
A: The talk of that thing you’re talking about has no impact whatsoever on the players. They won’t talk about it, won’t listen to crap about it, don’t care what people say. Honestly, it’s not even in the remotest corner of their minds.
And me? The only tank I care about are tops.
I know in previous years, the fans were fortunate enough to receive a giveaway on opening night. Even if it was an oversized t-shirt bought in bulk and later worn to bed.
I know the Toronto Maple Leaf fans were given a scarf, yet Raptor fans got nothing. Unless you count the 4,000 $1 off coupons (a tad insulting), do you happen to know what the deal is?
Last I checked, we were still a Toronto team and with so many aspirations for the year, I would think the fans deserved something.
Look forward to your thoughts.
A: I must say, I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t something on the seats for fans at the opener, seems it’s become something of a tradition. Can’t speak to why, however; maybe they blew the budget on that rather uninspiring opening.
Q: Hi Doug
Enjoy your column and blogs very much. Just wanted to say I was very happy to watch Alan Anderson score 17 points in 22 minutes against the Heat Friday night. Really like this gritty player and hope he has a very good year with the Nets even though Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are my least favourite players in the NBA.
A: That was a big game for him and a big game for the Heat and I think Anderson’s probably in a good spot as a role player on a pretty good team with little expected of him.
I know some fans here got a bit tired of his penchant for shooting and Dwane’s reliance on him but Anderson is definitely a serviceable NBA player.
Q: Hi Doug,
Just looking at the stats from the Hawks game, it looks like they forgot to pass the ball. I like the lower number of turnovers but it seems that was just a product of not sharing the ball, not even attempting to pass.
Was Dwayne hoarse after the game? Frustrated? His post game presser seemed very calm but I am guessing he is going to lament the fact that they are on a back to back tonight and can’t take the time to really dissect the offensive troubles that seemed mostly self inflicted.
What was your take? Anyone in particular that needs to play a more team friendly game or the whole team takes this one?
A: My take is that it was one of those bad games that are going to pop up every now and then – perhaps more not than then – and it’s not worth getting too worked up about because there will be good ones, too. Plus, it was the second game of the season and that played a part in it.
Dwane? Sure he was unhappy but he’s not going to publicly rip his players, that’s not his style. What he did was get them in a meeting room Saturday in Milwaukee, who them on video all the mistakes they made and continued to teach them. And we saw far better ball movement against the Bucks.
Dwane’s like, I think, a good human resources person: He knows how to handle tricky situations because he’s smart and a good leader and he can make players see what they need to see without going off in public.
Too bad for us because a rant every now and then makes good copy but I suppose good for the team.
Q: Hello Mr. Smith... Do you see Mr. Stripes getting the crowd more animated this year. If it is supposed to be a “living hell” for the visiting team, could’nt they put the hoi palloi into say the third row and slash the ticket prices for the courtside seats, in order for the “true” fans to do their thing? (Watch out for flying pigs) How about a one game trial for a Phillie game?
Can the Raptor second unit be as good as the Lakers second unit was against the Clippers?
Does Rudy Gay own a condo, or is he just renting? How about Lowry? Do they need to give a month’s notice?
Will Smitch ever coach again? How about Butch? Has MU ever talked to them about anything?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I’ll just say that after one game, Stripes ain’t The Chicken and never will be. Working the crowd into a fervor? Not so much, I don’t imagine.
The thing about fans in Toronto is exactly the point you make: The ones closest to the court are the calmest, and the latest arriving so I don’t think turning the arena into a “living hell” is a possibility, to tell you the truth. I will say the audience can get loud but not exactly intimidating; it’s a good crowd and I applaud people for showing up but it can be sedate.
Second unit? As long as they don’t cost the team games, people should be happy; winning one here or there is asking a bit much.
Sam’s a broadcaster now and has no interest in coaching; Butch, I don’t know about but I do know he was up for jobs in Orlando and Detroit and would probably be interested if the right situation came up.
Q: Hi Doug,
Two quick questions.
First, are you noticing a change in how the major TV broadcasters are reporting the games now? I know your at the games so don't really get to see the coverage but it seems like TSN is putting more resources into the raptors coverage. Any reason? Noticed they brought in Sam Mitchell now too. Is viewer ship on the rise? Also, when you talk to people that watch basketball on TV, do they get annoyed how all the games are on TSN 2? Pretty much have to upgrade a whole package to watch the raptors game.
Lastly, when your on your trips, is mother star providing the cost of the trip?
PS going to Orlando next week, any must go places for sports fans?
A: I would imagine trying to get in on the ground floor of a promising era of Canadian basketball with the number of excellent players in the pipeline would be a good idea for any network and perhaps TSN realizes this? I do know they will have a TSN.ca and radio guy, Josh Lewenberg, travelling this year for the first time ever and trying to “own” the sport isn’t a bad idea.
But I don’t think viewership is anywhere near where they want it because it will only increase with the team’s success and that hasn’t started yet.
As for my trips, I get paid to work, I won’t go into my pocket for the right to do it so, yes, my basic expenses are covered.
Orlando? Soul-less, I’ve got nothing except a tiny place in a strip mall off Semoran where you could get $1.50 pints of Yeungling.
Q: Hi Doug!
Your change of seats at the ACC brought this to mind. Think it's a comparable, but you may end up saying "Apples and oranges, Lorie; apples and oranges."
Many years ago, I worked for a small company in cramped, but comfortable quarters. We sat close to one another, were privy to comings and goings and conversations and deals and disappointments and forecasts and successes. There were no offices with doors, a couple of privacy panels that the company president strategically moved to surround him now and then when necessary, but it was for the most part a free-flowing, freewheeling zone of communication. And then one day we moved into our expansive new digs - as befits a firm experiencing the sort of dramatic success that we did. And almost instantly lots of stuff happened - much of it nice (A parking lot not shared with a car-wrecker was but one thing; oh and losing the lime-green '70's shag carpeting with coffee (at least we hoped that's what they were) stains decades old was good, too.) - but some frustrating. And surprising to us all.
When we worked and sat in such close proximity to one another we knew more than we thought we knew. You know? And by some sort of osmosis absorbed stuff other than information that was equally important. We could almost sense when things were about to happen, or should happen and had impromptu conversations that weren't always about the task at hand but sometimes found their way there and became key.
When we moved, we had swanky offices with doors and different floors with elevators but communication and understanding and our former smooth processes and procedures and way of doing business hit roadblocks that lasted many months.
So, in any way is your removal from being intimately close to the game, the players, the coaches, The Chicken (eventually!!!) similar to my experience above? And I'm ready for that whole fruit analogy. :)
A: The only thing I know about fruit is that smart people tell me it’s good for you and I should eat more of it. As if.
Now, as for the issue, there are some similarities.
Sitting close – not necessarily on the sidelines between the benches but closer than we are – does allow for some observations of players and coaches that might lead to conversations that might lead to good stories and we are missing out on that, no question about it. But as for discussions that might start out with something unrelated to work but that turn into something, that doesn’t really happen much because the only “colleague” is Not Grace and we usually know what we’re doing before a game starts. The conversations with other reporters are fun and interesting but because we are at some level competitors, we hold back the best stuff for our own use.
Q: Just watching the Nets/Heat and late in the game LeBron gets called for traveling and goes nuts running back down the court. First off, it was the right call, and secondly why wasn't there a tech, I don't know?
My questions are, who is the biggest whiner that gets away with it, who is the biggest whiner that doesn't, and who, other than the Heat, are the biggest whiners as a team? Honestly, I love the game but that stuff makes me sick.
A: I think it’s generally agreed throughout the league that Miami is the team that acts the worst in that regard, although San Antonio might be a close second.
And the constant whining is unseemly and can take away from the enjoyment of the game.
I know its early days, but it seems to me that Landry Fields is starting to become a more important part of this team than most of us might have expected. A key defender and also a pretty good initiator on offense so far.
Is this what Dwayne was hoping for from him or is he pleasantly surprised. As I said its early days but he has looked pretty good so far.
A: It’s just what he wanted, actually, a calm veteran who can defend multiple positions and make smart basketball plays.
In fact, there’s some stuff about that very issue in here.
Q: Hi Doug
I was looking for the NBA team with the longest period of no championship and found that the Sacramento Kings started life as the Rochester Seagram's (before the Bronfman's) in 1924.
Pretty sure that they have the longest streak, is that the most frustrating one or do you have another candidate?
A: 1924 was before the NBA even so, yeah, that’d probably be the longest one, for sure. But they’ve been in so many cities and so many incarnations, not sure they can be grouped as one.
But that’d be the one that comes to my mind, I guess; every other team I can think of has at least had some major success, although Sacramento’s run early in the 2000s was pretty good, too.
Q: Hello Mighty Scribe.
Just a short message for all your many readers.
How about supporting your local high school, community college, or university basketball? The season is upon us. Find a schedule and take in some games. We are told that there is some incredible young talent out there. Go see it!
A: Like the man said, if you can, you should. I’d say you’d be pleasantly surprised at the calibre of CIS basketball these days, both men and women.
Oh, and the NBL Canada season has begun, that might be something to check out, too.