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Raptors over-achievers and under-achievers, we’ve got lists!


The question’s a couple of mailbags old and I’m getting to it now because (a) I forgot and (b) there were a lot of games last week that required Three Pointers and quick typing in different time zones.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten best bars/hotels/life on the road division-by-division, I just need solid stool time to knock ‘em off ahead of time.

But this one I got done Sunday afternoon while loafing and it wasn’t all that hard.

The question came like this from Phil and I supposed it’s kind of fitting what with Vince coming back on Wednesday for a visit.

Thinking of your section of the best ever Raptors, I was reminded that however talented Vince Carter was/is, he was criticized (rightly or wrongly) for a lack of desire to excel. On the other hand, it has been noted at how hard DeMar works to improve his game. On that note, who would you name as 5 players who were very talented, but lacked the desire to improve their game? And which 5 excelled more on desire than pure talent?

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I’ll just knock them off quickly with a short explanation and in no particular order. Don’t imagine there’ll be many surprises.

Talented, but …

Joey Graham

He’s the gold standard. Big, strong, quick but it never translated into any on-court success. We kept waiting for him to realize what looked like potential. Never happened.Jerome Moiso

I know, they signed him off one good playoff series but any guy who made a coach (Sam Mitchell) call him out publicly (one night in Orlando) for not caring has to be on this list.

Andrea Bargnani

Yes, he had a couple of good seasons and played in some playoff games and had some skill. I was a supporter and think he wasn’t as bad as many do and did but he also never worked hard on his game. And that irked everyone.

Anthony Bennett

I know, it’s a bit unfair given that he only spent half a season here but, trust me, he infuriated teammates and coaches because he just never got. A good kid and everyone hoped he’d succeed, his failures are entirely on him.

James Johnson

Maybe it wasn’t all his fault that he never played but a guy with his athleticism should have figured out that staying in your lane and not going rogue too often was the thing to do. Fact was, coaches and teammates simply couldn’t trust him which his too bad because, man, he has some skills.

Made the most of what they had

Jorge Garbajosa

Who didn’t love Garbo? Guy couldn’t run, dude couldn’t jump, all he could do was play and make big shots when you needed him. There are those who rag on BC for continually using Garbo’s injury as a point when things went south but you know what? He’s right.

Matt Bonner

Fans loved him like few others and the fact he found a way to carve out a 12-year career in the NBA is really something he should be proud of. Not fast, not athletic, he was just smart and knew what he was and wasn’t. Just want you want in a role player.

PJ Tucker

The Mule, Sam Mitchell used to call him, because he’d do all the work. He bounced around here and there and a whole lot of people – me right near the top of the list – are proud of him for having figured out his niche in the league.

Alvin Williams

Okay, the dude was an all-American and pretty damn good in his own right and he’ll tell you that his best play in his NBA career was “throw the ball to Vince and get the hell out of the way.” But he was buried by Butch Carter, traded to Boston in a deal that was rescinded, played hurt all the time and made himself an NBA player by his attitude.

Reggie Slater

Talk about under-sized and still making an impact, Reggie had it. Not great but good, I don’t remember ever thinking ‘man, they should be getting more out of it.’ Just a solid pro who made up in work ethic and smarts what he lacked in size and speed.

So, there you go, I’m sure there are other guys who’d fit on either of those subjective lists but that’s what I’ve got for you.

Heard this sometime on the weekend, not bad.

I know this’ll break your hearts but we’ve got to take a week off from I’ll Have Another which is too bad because there’d be all kinds of things to chatter about.

But we’ll be back next week so don’t worry too much.

Count me among those who thinks the Grey Cup should never come back to Toronto but, man, what a game that was, wasn’t it?

The week seemed pretty dreary which has more to do with ennui in the city overall and the festival basically got lost amid the run of the mill stuff that goes on.

I’ve covered Grey Cups in Ottawa, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Calgary and they were always a hit with the general public and the city as a whole. There was a sense of “event” in each of those places that I don’t think you’ll ever find in Toronto and if they decided to stay in those smaller centres, I don’t think anyone would mind and no one here would miss it at all.

But the game? The game was like the game always is, compelling, quick and wildly entertaining. I’m not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination but I watched from start to finish, couldn’t take my eyes off it.

The Canadian game is just faster and better than the mind-numbing over-coached, over-analyzed NFL brand and I would bet anyone who watched one of the games from south of the border yesterday and then watched Calgary-Ottawa would have to agree.

It was a great end to an ordinary week.

A four-game week for the HOTH is a tough one – two of them are sure to be less entertaining and fun than they should be – but at least there are no planes involved.

And since I just looked at Portland-Oakland-Phoenix-Los Angeles-San Antonio starting with a Christmas Day flight, that’s quite all right with me.

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