My goodness gracious.
You folks ask a lot of questions and a lot of excellent questions and a lot of loooooooong questions but it’s all good and giving you this avenue to kind of comment as well as query is what we do.
But there’s more here than there’s been here in months and this is about at capacity. Enjoy it in bits and pieces ‘cause it’d take forever to digest in one sitting.
Me? I’m coasting the rest of the day because this has been tiring.
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Q: Doug – I think you prefer to not go too far with analysis of the links between sport and the wider society.
After all, basketball is sheer fun, enormous human talent (individual and team ) – and winning always helps.
– Maybe more than 2 million people for the parade?
– Montreal supporting a “Toronto team”?
– 30+ Jurassic Parks?
Something is happening.
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What might you add to this list to account for the overwhelming engagement/affection of Canada for our NBA champions?
– It is a time of Trump xenophobia south of the border. “We The North” stands for something so much more inclusive; so very different from the racism and exclusion that emanates from current occupant of the White House
– Our team reflects a Canadian workmanlike modesty
– We got up off the floor from injury during the season; and off the floor from early playoff series losses – our team is tough even as the players reflect good values and choices , e.g. health, mutual support; avoiding excessive celebrity illness.
For me, the parade was everything. While Devlin was great calming the assemblage when we had a shooting, the ceremony overall was pretty bland. Except for booing Premier Ford ( just had to get that in )
A: There’s an undeniable link between sports and the greater society, no question about it. You only had to see, as you illustrate, how much commonality the Raptors run created across the city, the province and the country to see that. It’s important in that teams and games can bring together diverse backgrounds and personalities and foster a greater understanding of the differences that make a country so great. I’ve long held that athletes can reach a different segment of society than any politician or actor or businessman and it’s important that they do that. If they can open the eyes of one fan to things more important than who won or lost or create awareness of situations away from the games, that’s great. But the games are the thing that starts it, the games, the teams, the players, coaches and managers.
I found it heart-warming to look at out Jurassic Park at the arena or to see video of the others across Canada and see the diversity that makes Canada so great.
I don’t think sports can “solve” issues that may be close to unsolvable but every step towards more tolerance and acceptance is important and sports can lead that way.
Q: Hi Doug
I congratulate you on your upcoming loafing off! As much as I enjoyed your perspective on the Toronto Raptors, I am looking forward to your thoughts on the Canada Basketball Senior Men’s National Team as it prepares for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Do you think the hiring of Nick Nurse as its coach was the tipping point in Andrew Wiggins’ return to the program? Can Nick expect a good response from the other Canadian NBAers? How much was he involved with Canada Basketball prior to his hiring?
Roel Olay, Mississauga
PS. I’m still pushing for The Glowing Hearts as a nickname for any one of the Canada Basketball teams!
Q: I’m not entirely sure Wiggins is going to play and until that’s officially official and I see him on the court, that’s the way it has to stay.
But, no, I don’t think Nurse would have been the tipping point for any player. He’s got a great and well earned reputation but it’s about the players wanting to make a six-week commitment to the program and each other more than a specific coach. The familiarity helps but I don’t think it’s a determining factor.
Q: I was surprised to learn today of Bob McCown’s departure from the Fan590. I know you are a frequent and respected guest of the show. Were you surprised by the announcement? Do you have a guess or recommendation for who would do well in that spot?
A: I was, like so many others, stunned by the news and the suddenness of his departure. Still haven’t heard the full and complete unvarnished story and I don’t know if I ever will.
Can’t really guess on a good replacement but will say this: They may want to think about revamping much of the tone of the show because no one they get is going to be able to do what Bob did so well. And I honestly think a woman’s voice on a constant basis would be a good thing.
Q: Doug, couple of quick ones for you.
1) You have mentioned a couple of times that if Leonard leaves the Raps cannot use the money they would have paid him for someone else, say a Kemba Walker. I assume this has something to do with the ridiculously esoteric NBA salary rules but could you explain.
2) Moving beyond Fred, which of the young bench players has the highest upside potential? How high is it (I assume we can leave out superstar and star player)- eventual starter, regular rotation player. I am assuming that OG would top the list but what guys like Boucher and even McCaw?
Bruce (now settled in Oshawa for a very long time)
A: I’ll try to explain but it is cap minutia and deals with “exceptions” and Bird Rights and a lot of things. Even without a Leonard contract on the books, the Raptors are over the cap because they’ve obtained players (Gasol, Ibaka for example) with longer term deals than the guys they sent out, they’ve used Bird Rights to sign guys like Lowry, VanVleet and Powell. So, they simply don’t have cap “room” to add significant players. They will have the so-called “mid level exception” of about $ 9 million to spend.
Despite an entirely lost year, I think Anunoby is poised to be a solid contributor next year and people shouldn’t sleep on him. It won’t be Siakam-esque but I do think he can play and play well. I don’t think Boucher’s a rotation player on a very good team yet and I don’t know if McCaw will be back.
Q: Hey Doug
Thank you for all the work over the past year, and the last 24 … what an amazing time to be a Raptors fan!
With all the finals, celebrations and parade coverage one person I have not seen or heard much on is Wayne Embry.
It was great seeing him in the parade, and I can only guess the sense of pride he was feeling … between Rob, Brian and Ujiri he has been the steady force in the background.
Have you had a chance to connect with him … I really hope he also gets the recognition he undoubtedly deserves… when you do see him, please send some raptor love from the irregulars.
Is there a chance for you and him to share a theatre stage? I’d gladly pay to hear some of those stories…
Thanks for everything you do Doug!
A: I spoke with him in the chaotic locker room after Game 6 but I’ve only traded texts with him since then. He was, as you can imagine, fiercely proud of what the team and the organization accomplished.
And, yeah, I’d love to sit down for an extensive interview with him and hope to accomplish that going into next season.
Q: Doug, there’s something of a mystery surrounding Durant’s injury. Originally he sat out due to a supposed calf injury. In game 5 he was eliminated for an Achilles injury. Are these actually two separate injuries or was the “calf” injury in fact an Achilles issue all along? Did the injuries involve separate legs? If they were in fact two separate injuries then the Achilles injury was simply bad luck – could have happened at any point in the season/series – and no blame on anyone in the Warriors organization.
A: Same leg. There probably was some kind of correlation but everybody invested in Durant – him, his family, his agent, his doctors, Golden State management, Warriors medical staff, his coaches – were involved in the decision to clear him to play.
What happened sucks but what happened, happens and it’s just a crappy break for a great player.
Q: I hope I am not too late for the Mail this week.
First I want to thank Victoria’s James A for the honourable mention last week. It brings back fond memories of when we were able to comment on your Blog and the interaction of all the irregulars. I have been around since the Nothing But Net days.
In 1998 I was President of our local Basketball Association. My three daughters played on Travelling Teams and we had a House League to run also. At that time the Raptors organization had a Community Outreach Program. We invited them to come to Cornwall and they came and ran a mini camp for some players. They left us an autographed Basketball signed by their rookie Vince Carter. Later that year we sold tickets on it at a tournament we hosted. I think it was a parent from Almonte who won the ball. That is when I started paying attention to the Raptors.
I still can’t believe they won the NBA Championship and the Larry OB trophy. Last year (if I remember correctly) you said you didn’t expect to see them win a Championship in your lifetime. I didn’t expect to see it either. You had stated that so many things had to go right with the match-up and being healthy. Even though the Golden State Warriors got all the attention about injuries the Raptors were pretty beat up also with Kyle’s thumb needing surgery, Kawhi’s leg/knee and Fred’s back/hip pointer and beat up face, not to mention the things we know nothing about.
So thank you for everything you do. There were lots of articles about the run. In fact there were too many to read so the only ones I read consistently read were yours. It has been a great run over the years and you helped to bring a certain group together where we have never met but recognize names of people from all over the country. I can recognize Lori’s questions as soon as I start reading them without seeing her name.
Finally my question.
You have stated in the past that you wanted to complete 25 years covering the Raptors. I believe it is now 24? With the win, have you considered wrapping it up this year and going out on a winning note or is the duration more important to you? I think you recently stated that you are also not ready to give it up. I guess you will soon have to start writing that book of your life. Anyway, good luck with your decisions and hopefully you can keep entertaining us for many more years.
A: I really haven’t considered fading away on a high note because I still think I have stories to tell and games to watch and my family might slay me if I was around all the time. There might be a different role to examine after I talk to the bosses, more big picture and less “Game Centre” stuff but that’s for much later in the summer.
And getting through 25 seasons, maybe doing the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, a nice event to cover from a basketball perspective, is still very much a goal. But in the ever-evolving media world in which I live, who knows what next fall may bring for me.
Q: Hi – this may be too late for the mailbag but thought I’d throw it out there. After a health scare last year and then getting back to work, the year started with you asking a question that launched a thousand memes. (or at least launched the laugh that launched a thousand memes). At what point this season did you think that this team might go all the way? It’s been such a remarkable year, I wonder if there was a time you remember thinking that they just *might* do it? Over the playoffs, I did miss the IGBT although I suspect you didn’t. 😉
A: There wasn’t one lightbulb moment in the season but after the 21-4 start, and even during that run, I was telling anyone who’d listen that this team was extraordinarily good and there was every chance they could play for a championship. It would, of course, take good luck and good management and other breaks but that’s the same with every championship team every season in every sport.
And once they got Marc Gasol and I saw what he did for the big picture, that feeling grew.
Q: Hello Well Written Scribe! Been a while since I have written and I did chat with you briefly last June at FIBA Americas Men’s U18, so…
Good to see you have survived the long fruitful playoff run! I would assume having pretty much covered the Raps since the beginning that there is a sense of accomplishment with the trophy coming to Toronto? Now the fun starts on the Leonard watch and my feeling is that he will stay for a few more years to maximize his earning potential down the road and the chance to possibly win it all again next year? Given that Adrian Wojnarowski got that Masi to Wizards story wrong, not sure I put much credence in his musing that the Clippers are ahead for Leonard’s future next year? Yes, Kwahi will do this his way, but, when you put it all together one would hope logic would prevail?
The other topic I wanted to vent a bit about is the changing face of sports media in this area and for that matter the country. With Bob McCowan done at the FAN and Rogers today, it shows nothing is impossible. But, given the way we consume news and sports today, not surprising I guess? And in the same breath, it is very frustrating! The big conglomerates, meaning Bell Media, Rogers, Shaw, Channel Zero, TorStar, PostMedia etc., are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Their arguments for pay walls, subscriptions and the like is to support LOCAL journalism, yet what is getting chopped, LOCAL coverage! The small papers under the TorStar masthead such as the Burlington Post, Oakville Beaver et al used to have a load of local sports and now it is pretty much all gone. Rogers has canned local Rogers community stations which reduces local coverage and CTV under Bell Media canned all of their local sports desks and all you get, at least in Toronto, is the anchor briefly touching on the Raptors, Jays, Leafs, TFC and Argos and not anything local that is not professional! If they are going to bug me to support :LOCAL, then they can’t be cutting it to almost nothing! Some blogs and freelancers have popped up as a result, but, no where near the coverage that we had previously enjoyed.
On that topic I do wish to thank you for taking the time to give the USport Women’s Basketball the coverage that you did, but, you were the only that had your name on stories about it. Your cousins in the Big Smoke all had wire stories as their “coverage”!
Stay well and don’t work too hard as the temperature finally gets a bit warmer. All the best.
A: That’s a good rant and one I’ve heard in various forms often. It’s hard to find a way to change a broken business model to something that satisfies everyone, the issue of what’s “local” is sometimes hard to determine, especially in sports, and the simple fact is, we can’t be everywhere doing everything and good journalism costs money. Everyone’s trying to figure it out, we should not and cannot and will not continue to provide information for free because that’s ridiculous. But it’s tricky and it’s a work in progress and I’ve always respectfully asked only for consideration from folks to pay a nominal price for incalculable good that we do.
Q: Not So much a question but as this championship run was playing itself out me being of a certain vintage close to yours, a lyric in a song kept occurring to me. Truckin by the Grateful Dead with the “Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been” has been stuck in my head. I was wondering if it has been like that for you looking back to day 1 of this experience?
Stay well and look forward to the ring ceremony in October.
A: I resisted a very strong urge to use that line repeatedly during the 10-week run but the song sure was an ear worm on a lot of days.
And believe it or not, I’m still processing the 24-year journey because work has continued unabated and will for another couple of weeks. Sometime, maybe in mid-July, I’ll be able to fully sit back, catch my breath and figure it all out.
Q: Couldn’t agree with you more about the moronic allegations about Ujiri. Just wanted to support the idiocy position by pointing out that the jaw disorder is called Temporomandibular Joint Disfunction. It is not an injury but a condition and it has nothing to do with medieval knights!
A: Thanks. I think there are other “conditions” like “greed” and “seeking fame” at play, too.
Good call on the medieval knight aspect of it, too.
Thanks for your excellent Raptors coverage and your willingness to take questions from the unwashed masses. Much appreciated!
We’ve just watched a latecomer to basketball in Pascal Siakam make a rapid rise to NBA stardom. It’s been remarkable to see his improvement month by month. The Raptors have another latecomer in Chris Boucher, who won the G League MVP award this year after impressing in training camp. What’s your best guess as to Boucher’s ceiling?
A: I’m not sure Boucher, who is older than Siakam was and not possessing the same kind of drive that I’ve ever seen, will be a rotation player on a very good NBA team but, as we’ve seen, you never know.
Q: Good morning Doug,
Like you I was floored to read the so called cop now has a serious injury, is disabled, is on leave and being paid by the force and of course now has a big mouth lawyer. All of this a week after the so called assault and even more so after a witness who was within feet of the cop and essentially stated in the news that the cop was the instigator. Obviously there has to be others who were close by and probably could back up the witness.
My question is simple – why did or does the police force apparently not interview the witness and those around him. I doubt there is any problem identifying those people given the seats they had – I am sure the Warriors can identify them in a minute. As you say cash grab or maybe a clown trying to save face.
A: Oh, there are a couple of “investigations” going on, by the local constabulary, by the NBA and, I presume, by the Warriors and Raptors. But it takes time to find enough people from the sea of humanity around the court and identify them and talk to enough of them to get a clear picture of what went on. Which was nothing extraordinary or too serious and I wish the whole damn thing would go away.
At this point, it is too early to know of Kawhi Leonard’s decision to stay or depart the Raptors.
Regardless, my question is how further could the MLSE/Raptors organization recognize his contribution? For me, the moment (or shortly after), he leaves the Raptors, there should be an announcement that his jersey will be retired.
I know that longevity of play with a team is a significant consideration in such decisions but this should be an exception as it was earned.
To this point his situation compares with Henderson’s 1972 goal scoring that led to Team Canada’s country wide thrill. Unfortunately, the Hockey Hall of Fame has been tardy in recognizing this exceptionalism.
Keep balanced with work and rest.
A: First time I’ve heard the shot, or the win, compared to Henderson’s goal and think that might be a stretch. Those were unique circumstance and socio-political times.
And, no, sorry, I cannot get behind retiring a jersey off one season, no matter how special it was.
Q: Hi Doug. I guess that there will be little to no off-season for you this year. That is the price to pay for success. Any word on Lowry’s thumb? How bad was the injury? Is he to have surgery? Finally thanks to James A in Victoria for the shout-out! My boys and I will always remember that game. Glad to be part of the cocktail party!
Mike K London
A: I haven’t had a chance to even ask about Lowry’s thumb, actually. But we scheduled to have a session with Masai one day next week and it’ll certainly come up. There was every indication he had to get it fixed up during the playoff run so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s had some minor procedure soon.
Q: Hello Doug,
Fantastic work by you and your colleagues in the playoffs. You guys/gals are in a class by yourselves.
As I watched American basketball talking-heads opine on the slamdunk likelihood of Masai taking on the Washington Wizards position – ins pite of what was going on with the incident with the overbearing police officer (he said euphemistically) in Oakland – I couldn’t help but shake my head in frustration. This whole unfortunate incident lays bare the tone-deafness of America.
Namely, why on God’s good earth, would Masai move himself and his family to society where every single day he would get out of bed, look at his beautiful wife and say “Is this the day I get pulled over by a white police officer and end up shot or in prison for ‘Resisting Arrest’?”. I realize we are all a product of our environment, and these basketball talking-heads are product of their environment, but why in the name of God would Masai leave a city like Toronto to live under the jackboot of American law enforcement, where the very survival of he and his family is at risk each and every day? Do you think Masai gives any thought to this type of thing when rumours of him being lured away to the U.S come to his attention?
Lastly, the NBA is a copycat league. They copied Miami (Super team). They copied GSW (Smallball). The Raptors are to “Load management” what the late great Pat Quinn was to “Lower-body injury”. Is there anything else about this championship team that will be copied by other teams?
A: I’ve written for months that Masai wasn’t going anywhere – particularly after the Los Angeles stuff surfaced – and I don’t see any reason to change my stance now.
Not sure they will be copied except, perhaps, in the way they put a premium on developing their own talent through the G League program and player development and continuity and more teams might take that approach.
Q: Hi Doug,
Great coverage during the playoffs. So happy they won!!
Wondering if you have heard anything about the Raps foundation supporting the folks who were hurt in the shooting/trampling post-shooting?
Obviously it’s not their fault at all – but fans got hurt, some badly. The 50-50 took in massive amounts of cash over four rounds (esp since they added online ticket purchases) and I just thought it might be a nice thing for them to do.
I’m not affiliated with anyone who was injured. But I’ve heard stories and it was pretty scratch it seems – physical Injuries and likely PTSD for some.
Food for thought, feel free to pass on to your Raps comms folks should you be moved to do so.
All the best,
A:I don’t know that there is much they can do in terms of identifying anyone who might have been hurt in the incident and, frankly, I don’t think they really should. It was a scary incident not of their doing and the best thing they can do is work closely with the police to bring the perpetrators to justice. But, again, any investigation is in its infancy and I don’t know how it will ultimately play out.
Q: Hey Doug:
Some thoughts and a question following the parade.
Many have mentioned how great Matt Devlin was after the shooting occurred. John Tory gave the key to the city to Kawhi, Matt deserves some kind of citation. His calm, cool control of the situation avoided was could have become a major tragedy if there had been a large scale stampede.
There were comments that there should have been some barriers to cope with crowds on the parade route. I work close by to University Avenue, and saw metal barriers on the street. I’m not an expert in these things, but the reality is that there were so many people, this may have been a situation that could have bee unavoidable.
I was also struck with the various comments from Nurse and several players about Kawhi’s leadership role. That made me think back to comments Gregg Popovich’s comments last November that Kawhi was a great player but not a leader. Kawhi’s teammates credited Kawhi for the team’s “even keel”. Nurse mentioned that when he said the Raptors should win one in Oakland, Kawhi said they should win both games. (It was also interesting that it was Danny Green who seemed to lead the pre-game huddle.) After this season and championship run, how do you rate Kawhi’s leadership, and with a few months retrospect, what do you make of Pop’s comments?
Appreciated as always
A: I did not here Pop’s comments myself and I therefore don’t know the entire context or what else may have or not been said in the same conversation.
I will say, though, that every situation is different and perhaps there could have been a different level of comfort in becoming a leader with this group in Toronto rather than a group in San Antonio that included the likes of Pop, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Plus, there’s also the continuous maturation of a man and an athlete as he gets older and more experienced and is perhaps more wiling to speak up.
Q: Hi Doug. Just an observation. With a hundred people following Kawhi and his family at Niagara Falls today, would it not make him want to run for the hills? What is wrong with these people?
A: An unanswerable question for the ages, my friend. Mob mentality is a crazy thing.
Q: Hi again Doug,
Congrats on your great job throughout the Finals! We watched with a certain amount of Toronto pride as you did your thing in the post-game press pool.
My question: Ted Leonsis’ recent media shenanigans seem to fully confirm your stance that Masai decidedly WON’T be going to Washington… but that said, which other key (non-Kawhi) staffers might indeed get poached this off-season?
It’s obviously rare for an NBA team to win a Championship and then manage to keep everyone together (since all staffers now have ‘title winner’ on their respective curricula vitae). Are any assistant coaches, execs, or others poised for poaching?
Thanks as ever,
Duff Wallis, Toronto
A: Everyone on the staff is worth, in my opinion, poaching and I don’t know if better offers with more responsibility will come for assistant coaches or developmental coaches but I do know this was a very closely knit group and unless it’s some incredible offer of a lot more money and a lot more responsibility, I don’t see anyone leaving. But if they do, it’ll be like the roster in the regular season: Next man up.
Q: Oh great scribe. I should have followed your lead and watched from afar because from near resulted in stampedes almost trampling me and loved ones. I’ll follow your advice next time we win.
Question: I haven’t seen any reported reactions from specific players or members of the raptors organization regarding the shooting and stabbing incidents. Were you able to get any “off the record” sentiments on how some of the players felt about the sour ending?
A: I have not seen a player or a coach since the parade and I don’t know when I will, to be honest. So I’ve had no conversations with anyone who was on the stage at the time.
Q: Hey Doug,
Finally our faith and loyalty get rewarded.
2 unimportant questions from the end of game 6. Would Draymond have been ineligible if there had been a game 7 – he called the timeout and was assessed a technical, his 7th of the playoffs.
Also on the inbound pass with .9 seconds remaining to Kawhi under the basket a foul was called which must have occurred before he caught the ball. When play resumed the clock was reset to .9 seconds and the Warriors got the ball. If the foul occurred before Kawhi caught the ball should not the Raptors been given the ball with the .9 seconds remaining? Just wondering? Can’t wait for next year with or without Kawhi (hopefully with). Have a great summer.
A: The technical foul was assessed to the team and not an individual but it’s also moot in that had it been given to any player it would have been a non-unsportsmanlike technical like defensive three-seconds or hanging on the rim and would not have counted toward the seven-tech total..
And the rules say on a dead ball technical, possession goes the defensive team after the free throw. Just as one in the regular course of play, like when a player is T’d up for arguing a foul call, Team A shoots the technical first and then the free throws in normal fashion.
Q: Hi Doug,
Congratulations on making it through the playoff run. Knowing there would always be great content to read daily was a treat.
2 questions: 1. Do you think this title means any more to Kyle Lowry because he’s been here for so long, kept pushing the rock up the hill, and finally achieved? 2. Have you had to talk with the family about probably needing to work Christmas next year?
Enjoy your summer. Hope you get some time to relax.
A: I don’t think it means more to him than to anyone else, even though he’s the longest-serving Raptor. I do know he was hugely proud of what he’s done here, as he should be, but the title means as much to Marc Gasol as it does Lowry.
And yeah, Super Family knows what’s ahead. But the truth is, over 24 years, I bet I got on airplanes on Dec. 25 about 14 or 15 times for Dec. 26 or 27 games so being home and driving to the arena might actually be better.
Q: Hi Doug
I was in the bar at the Hoops Talk where you said “Not in my lifetime”.
Given what has happened since, I’m glad you got a second life.
I’m sorry you had to go through that.
Keep well, and thank you for all you do.
A: I said that about second chances often and it did cross my mind the last 10 days or so.
Q: Hey Doug,
Well how was that for an NBA season!!!!
Thought I would rapid fire questions at you as we prep for the off-season?
- If Gasol opts in can he be traded? If so , when?
- Can Raps sign Danny Green regardless of the cap?
- Heard Nando is coming back to the NBA. Raps still have his rights & how does it work?
- If Gasol & Kawhi opt out and don’t resign how much cap space do the Raps have?
- When is Masai’s year end press conference?
Have a beer on me, put your feet up and toast the best Basketball season in these parts!
A: Gasol can be traded after mid-July but if he opts in, I cannot imagine that happening.
Yes, the Raptors have Bird Rights on Green and can re-sign him without regards to the cap.
DeColo has expressed an interest in returning and the Raptors are sure to continue to extend a qualifying offer to him which makes him a restricted free agent and Toronto would have the right to match any offer he gets. I’m not entirely sure a 32-year-old point guard five years removed from the NBA is something this team wants or needs but you never know.
The Raptors will have no cap space regardless of what Leonard and Gasol do, a fact that Masai will touch on when he does his post-season availability which should be sometime early this week but it hasn’t been firmly scheduled yet.