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Finishing off the weekend mail

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tony Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Dirk Nowitzki, Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic, Krtistaps Porzingis, Nic Batum, Steven Adams, Al Horford, Tristan Thompson, Rudy Gobert, Manu Ginobili, Serge Ibaka and Pau Gasol and that’s pretty damn good, no?

Would sure give the USA a game.

Q: Merry Christmas Doug to you and the Super Family.

Well the Raps seem to be holding their own up to now, but my only question about them is T. Ross going to continue to play this way or will he drop back into the up and down of the last few seasons.  Time will tell, but for now it’s all good.

I am wondering about the Jays big time.  I think that if the new Team President and the new GM don’t sign either Encarnacion or Bautista and the Jays don’t start the season strong, the fans will respond negatively.  I think the fans are expecting the team to at least compete for the playoffs given the last two seasons, and if they do not produce there is going to be some serious screaming about the new guys who came in and tore the team apart with no plan to rebuild.  They may blame the owners, but it will be the teams headshed that gets the fingers pointed at them.

What does a quality control coach coach??  I have never heard of that position on a professional sports team but I miss out on lots of things. That was the expression used to announce the signing of a new coach.   Could you enlighten me please??

Gerry T

A: There haven’t been many who’ve pointed out the inconsistencies in Terrence Ross over the years than I but it’s really starting to look like he’s turned a corner, doesn’t it? More than a quarter of the way through the season and he hasn’t had one of those weeks off that plagued him in the past.

The Jays? I have no clue what a “quality control” coach is and haven’t seen it explained. I suppose, logically, it’s someone who makes sure everything gets done every day but, really, isn’t that the job of the individual coaches? I can remember when staffs were manager, pitching coach, batting coach, a fielding coach, perhaps, and maybe one or two base coaches. Now you’ve got bullpen coaches and bench coaches and the Blue Jays had two different hitting coaches. You’ve got infield coaches and outfield coaches and I wish I’d worked harder on coaching.

Q: Sir

Casual conversation the other day about iconic sports photos (Orr flying/Paul Henderson/Ali over Liston)…what would be #1 for the NBA/basketball?…Wilt holding the 100 card?…there seems to be very few compared to other sports …

Paul M

A: I’d probably say Wilt’s “100” is the picture but there’s also a shot of Michael Jordan, taken from the far baseline, just after he pushed Bryon Russell to make the last shot of the last Chicago victory that’s burned into my mind. Of course, it would have been better if it had been the last shot Jordan ever took and it really should have been.

Q: Sounds like you enjoyed the game at the Hershey Centre.  Is there a possible retirement gig of writing about the 905’s home games for the Mississauga News in your future?


A: Oh, I don’t imagine that’s going to happen. I presume I’ll show up a fair amount of time to schmooze and see old friends but when I hang up the quill, there will be no deadline/game story/night work in my life. I may type but it’ll be at my leisure.

Q: Hi Doug

As a professional writer, I’m sure you pride yourself on being grammatically correct, and it probably pains you when a slip or typo makes it into a final piece. I know you’ve lamented the bastardization of English due to the rise of electronic communication in the past, but my question involves neither you nor your readers. I’m curious to know how you feel when the players you interview give spoken answers that aren’t necessarily grammatically sound, but you then have to turn around and quote them directly in the story.

Does it irk you? Do writers have to quote verbatim? Or do you have liberty to “touch up” their quotes, so to speak? We all know we tend to let rules slide a lot more with spoken English as opposed to how it appears professionally published, so I’m just wondering what happens when you combine the two, and the former isn’t necessarily congruent with the latter?


David, Vancouver

A: This is one of big, and difficult, questions of our craft, actually. One for which there is no easy answer.

I tend to clean up things like “gotta” and “wanna” to “got to” and “want to” because, as you can imagine, literally transcription of every utterance would simply cloud sentences. What about “ums” and “ahs” and, for Dwane, at least, the use of “again” as a transitional gambit in nearly every sentence.

I don’t know that any publication has clear and fast rules, it’s generally left to the writer; my only personal rule is to make sure meaning comes through and the sentences make sense.

The typos? They kill me and while it’s logical to explain it away by the erosion of copy desks at newspapers, a lot of it’s on guys like me who supply the copy and we have to be more diligent. But sometimes, things happen.

Q: Doug, looking at the standings this season again one would surmise that the West is the better conference with a far greater share of powerhouse teams playing at .650 or above.

The grizzlies and Jazz at 18-10 wouldn’t even have home court

The west has been the far better conference for over 16 years now! Wouldn’t you think that over the course of that time that power would have shifted at some point?  All those bad teams in the east should benefit from better draft picks in long run…I would think.

But perhaps its a bit skewed to evaluate the west just based on the top teams strength.  Over the years they have also had many horrible teams.   Maybe the west should also be evaluated for how horrible the bad teams are,  but then its those bad teams that then somehow end up with the superstars of the future. 

Look where superstars over the last 15 years went after the draft. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Westbrook were drafted by Oklahoma/seattle, Tim Duncan went to spurs, Yao Ming went to Houston, Steph Curry went to warriors, Chris Paul went to New Orleans, Anthony Davis went to New Orleans version 2, Blake Griffin drafted by Clippers, Karl Anthony towns went to Minnesota. Gets even worse when you consider that Carmelo was drafted by Denver, Wiggins was drafted by cavs but ended up in Minnesota,  same with Kobe being drafted by east but immediately dealt to LA,  just like Nowitzki was drafted by Milwaukee and immediately sent to Dallas. Shaq also drafted by east but ended up only three years later for his prime years in the west.

Heck, if it wasn’t for Lebron, the East last decade would be disaster.   Only other superstar who stayed relevant for number of years in the east was Dwayne Wade.  

Wouldn’t that point to a big team management superiority in the west as opposed to the east?


A: I don’t think it’s one thing like superior management, actually. A few of the teams you mentioned – the Clippers and Timberwolves among them, the Lakers now – had to be pretty awful before they got good. Is that superior management?

It’s things like which teams have money to spend, which cities attractive for whatever reason, opportunity to improve quickly.

But, yeah, the Western Conference has been superior the last while even if it’s only 6-4 in championships in the last decade.

Q: Hi Doug,

I’m going to go for, as your colleague refers to it, a “twofer” for the mailbag.  Hope you find it worthy.

1) I would have to say that Pascal Siakam qualifies as a pleasant surprise for the Raps, given where he was drafted.  What does this mean for when (?if) Jared Sullinger returns from injury?  Will Siakam still start?

2) I guess the quarter point mark of the season is when GM’s have a good “feel” for their team.  Orlando would seem to be headed for the lottery despite some reasonably aggressive moves last summer.  How long before the inevitable “Serge Ibaka to the Raptors” rumours start?  Given how the Raps are progressing, would he be a good fit?

I guess that was more than two questions.


A: I would suspect there will be a stretch of three or four games after Sullinger is back that he comes off the bench to get used to the speed of the game but he’ll be the starter no question, all things being equal (no trades).

The second probably goes with the first, no? If Sullinger is here with Patterson, do they want to spend the capital on Ibaka (picks and young players) as a rental until he becomes a free agent when they have Sullinger and Patterson? I don’t think so.

Q: Hi Doug, I am an irregular who hasn’t written in a while, despite still reading you most every day. I was thinking about Cleveland and Lebron James as the new Michael Jordan and Bulls of the East. Basically, the team everyone has to get through in order to ascend to the top of the mountain. Then, I started to wonder. If Cleveland is the historical Bulls, then who are we (the Raptors) in historical terms? Do you think we are watching a Raptors team that is like the Reggie, Artest and Davis Brothers, Indiana Pacers – who couldn’t break through the glass ceiling? Or is there another really good, but not great team that you think we would compare favourably to at our stage of team development and success? Maybe the Aron McKie, Iverson and Igoudala, 76’ers?

Thank you


A: You could sure make a case for the Indy comparison, that group just couldn’t get past the Bulls or all the way to the top. I don’t think that Sixers group lasted long enough to be a considered, though.

But there have been teams that have had to “wait” their turn before breaking through, the Pistons of the Isiah era and even Jordan’s Bulls so there are lots to choose from and talk about.

Q: Holiday Greetings, Mr. Smith.

Earlier this week, I believe DeMar commented that the Raps are at the stage of “good” where the bench should be able to maintain control of a game, allowing more rest for the starters. In Monday’s game against the T-Wolves, a game in which there was maybe 1 uprising in the third, but no serious threat to the lead, both DeMar and Lowry played 32 & 34 minutes respectively, which is 1 to 2 minutes below their averages.

Is this rest ? Shouldn’t the bench be put in the position of closing out games with large leads? I get that winning is paramount, but when I think of rest, I think of a whole quarter off. 

Isn’t it great that this is about the most controversy around the team these days ? (Weird virtual digital clock rulings aside). We can spend the whole season watching great play and planning for the playoffs.


A: Your definition of a “large lead” and an NBA coach’s definition of a “large lead” are at odds, I promise you that. And as a prime example, was a 20-point lead in Philly “large” enough? As it turns out, no.

And, no, I don’t think one or two minutes is “rest” by any means, and I agree that a quarter off in a blowout would be the minimum.

I think a complete day off between games is “rest” and there are enough of those that, if managed well, should allow players to play 75 or so games every year, the others being off for the nagging minor injuries that pop up.

Q: Doug,

In the season before he came to the Raptors, Demarre Carroll was arguably the best player on the Hawks during that playoff run.  What has been the difference in his level of play since he joined the Raptors?  Can you chalk it up solely to injuries?  Or are there other factors, such as him changing his style of play to become more of a long range shooter?


Dr. Justin

A: Last season for Carroll was absolutely lost to injury and I think we’re just now seeing him at full health and strength. But this team also has significantly better individual talent than that Atlanta team, I’d say, and his role in a completely different offence is entirely different than it was with the Hawks. Defensively, he’s also in a different system and that’s where his knee and foot woes of a year ago hurt him most.


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