I’ve got to figure out how wrap up that road trip for later on this morning or early afternoon so we’ll just say the Dallas game yielded a not unexpected result for a lot of reasons, some of which got into the quick Game Centre thing we got up last night.
But there is a ton of mail to wade through here so wade away and we’ll be back again tomorrow morning with the usual fare followed by the weekly newsletter and another game.
The hits – and stories – just keep on coming.
Enjoy this, though, lots to digest:
Q: Hi Doug,
It’s been an entertaining week of Raptors basketball despite the fact that I’ve only really stayed up to watch the first quarter of most of the games. Because I’ve not seen the games live, I’ve been looking up highlights and post-game analysis the next day and I don’t think it will ever get old to hear analysts from the other team say “Well, they lost to the champs”.
When the term “championship hangover” is used, it is usually as a negative. After winning it all, how much (if at all) easier is it for coaches to coach their team the next year as they can clearly say our system works. I assume the battle to get players to buy-in is somewhat easier? Have you noticed any subtle differences with how the returning players are carrying themselves now that they’ve earned that gold patch on the back of their jerseys? Thanks for all you do to keep us informed!
A: This sounds weird maybe but I think it’s been good in no small way that this group, while mainly intact, has lost two key members from last year. It’s given a kind of freshness that I think it necessary.
But what that 2 ½ month run to the championship gave them was an absolutely belief in what they need to do to win and that carryover has been huge in helping them through some trying injury times.
They know they’re good.
Loved listening to Primetime sports and really miss it. Do you know what happened with Bob McCown and what he is doing these days? You were on many times with him. Any favourite stories?
Long time follower
A: I haven’t caught up with Bob in a long time but I understand he’s got some business things going with the winery he’s got and I’m sure he’s living his best life.
I do know that I bet an awful lot of people missed his take on the entire Don Cherry situation and I am definitely among them.
Q: Doug – A watershed moment? Cherry’s brand of Canada and Hockey finally came to an end on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA after his Remembrance Day poppy remarks.
For those prepared to listen and learn, we have experienced a crash course in Sports and Racism 101 – The Good and the Bad.
Of course he is entitled to his opinions but his remarks on a public broadcast violate anti-discrimination policy of his employer and violate the rules of Canadian broadcasting. In Canada, anti-discrimination law and policy trump (pardon the verb) seniority and celebrity. And in Canada we ought not ask the majority to “vote” on human rights issues: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – and our Human Rights Codes – are not decided by a popularity contest.
Human rights are hard won against obdurate legacies of stereotyping, prejudice and harmful behavior toward those declared to be “the other”
Cherry has made a living out of defining The Other. For too long did his employers tolerate Cherry’s racist answer to the core moral question, “Who do we count as one of us?”
Many have wondered how and why racism is transmitted across the generations. When sports “heroes” turned broadcasters are paid to spew a decades-long narrative of who belongs and who doesn’t, we discover, sadly, that sports and media can be a main transmission belt for racism and other forms of hate and intolerance.
All the more credit, therefore, to those in sports who have spoken up against racism, refusing to go along with further exclusion and harm.
I look forward to seeing more inclusive sports, hearing more inclusive voices in sport and experiencing sport as the unifier it might someday consistently come to be.
Your predictions re what next?
A: That’s as well put a few words on this subject as I’ve seen or read. I hope everyone truly digests and understands them and the point they make.
Thank you for that.
What’s next? Well, I type this before the first Cherry-free HNIC show but I presume they caught a huge break and could use the first intermission to honour the woman and men going into the Hall of Fame.
Long term? I think they need to find something entirely different than one bloviator dominating the airwaves and being given a free pass to talk about whatever he wanted to talk about.
I don’t have faith they will use the time to advance the causes of inclusion and acceptance, though. Maybe they just need to do, you know, hockey. But with different, more diverse faces and voices.
They cannot just drop in some Cherry-esque clone like Brian Burke and expect it to be normal or accepted.
This is a unique opportunity, I hope HNIC understands and accepts that responsibility.
Q: I just about fell over hearing that Canada Basketball news. Please keep us apprised about the details of ticket availability.
The Portland game showcased two teams going in different directions. I fear for the Blazers and wonder what they will do with Carmelo. It seems a bit desperate, but I think they are. An undermanned Raptor team should have been ripe pickings but the game was never really close after the first ten minutes. The chemistry between VanVleet and Siakam is sublime.
Arriving in town on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, our cab driver spied my poppy and observed “a hockey coach was fired because of that”. I knew who he meant, of course. What to say about Don Cherry? I grew up in Ontario around a lot of people like him, some of them relatives. They were tribal and in control of things; they were called Wasps and didn’t have much use for anyone else, indeed had pet names (e.g., frogs) for most others. Many grew out of this as things changed around them but some never did. One had a weekly forum and while I hadn’t watched him in decades, what I can say about Don Cherry is he helped to ruin something I once loved.
James A., Victoria
A: I grew up about the same time in the same kind of small city Ontario that you did, I presume, and your point resonates. I fully admit and am quite proud of the fact I tuned Don Cherry about decades ago, he didn’t speak to me or for me and I am dismayed at the number of people that I know that he did reach. I have no skin in the game but I am very glad he’s gone.
For the Raptors, I think Basketball IQ plays into “chemistry” an awful lot of both Pascal and Fred seem to have a lot of it. It’s really fun to watch this team, a point I think I’m going to make later today in whatever trip wrapup column I come up with.
Could you please explain the term “the five hole”, used to describe scoring a goal in hockey, when the puck enters the net through the legs of the goaltender. Thanks,
A: I don’t know if it still holds true but back in the day, when you did shooting practice, the slots to hit were low and high on the stick and glove side, numbered one through four. The “five hole” was between the goaler’s legs and it stuck.
Q: Hey Doug,
Hope you enjoyed the weather on the west coast trip. What kind of info, if any, do the players get about weather back home when they’re on a trip like this?
A: The people who run the charter and the travel get more extensive weather reports, as all airlines do. The players and coaches get it from their phone apps, talking to family and friends back home and listening to us gloat about how nice it is where we are as compared to back home.
Q: Hi Doug,
I’m writing to you about wronging a right. Everyone knows that Nick Nurse has a predilection for saying “right” at the end of many, if not all, of his sentences, right? It should be given a phrase… like “nursing a sentence” or something. Anyway.. It was a little off-putting the first few times I heard Nick speak. I’m not a big fan of his constant usage, but I’m willing to give him a pass since he coached his team to an NBA championship. It’s the least I can do. It seems, however, his constant usage has now infected the broadcasters. Most notably Jack, Matt, and Leo. So my question to you is more of a favour. The next time you see those guys, can you ask them very nicely to stop “nursing” sentences? Jack in particular seems to be highly infected, and may need a linguistics therapist to get over his malady.
Hopefully we’ll see you in Victoria in June.
A: I think everyone has his or her linguistic crutches or peccadilloes or whatever you want to call them.
But I will mention it to them and I’m sure some of them will read this and know about but, I gotta tell you, it doesn’t really bother me and it’s not something I notice so maybe it’s something we should all listen past?
Q: Hey Doug:
I noticed that Malcolm Miller only played the first seven minutes of the Portland game and then spent the rest of the game on the bench. His play certainly didn’t seem to be at the level of the other subs who came in. Is he now relegated to No. 15 on the bench, at best?
Watching post-game interviews, it’s clear that the visitors’ dressing rooms are much more Spartan than the home teams’. I’m assuming you’ve been in most, if not all NBA dressing rooms. At top 5/bottom 5 question. Whose home team’s dressing room is the most opulent, comfortable? Which visitor’s dressing rooms are the worst?
Appreciated as always.
A: Not sure you can put a number on where Miller but he’s out of any nine-man rotation right now and I don’t see him getting back in when Lowry, Ibaka and McCaw get back.
Locker rooms? It’s not as disparate as it was back in the day when the hot water would mysteriously go off in the visitor’s room at the old Boston Garden but there is a big difference between home and away.
I’d say the worst visitor’s rooms I can recall at Staples, Portland, Cleveland, Dallas and Minnesota (Toronto’s would be awful close); the roomiest are Atlanta, Houston and Boston’s actually not so bad now.
As for best for the home teams, they’re all pretty darn nice with lots of amenities. Dallas would probably be tops but I hear the new Golden State one is the best.
Q: Good afternoon.
You were asking for mail.
I was curious how high you would rate the Lakers win on all time regular season games?
I had a brief chat with (award winning) M Grange before the flight home On Tuesday. He put it in his top 7-8. I heard D Bennett, of sports net, say it was top five.
The games that come to mind are bulls 72 win season. A game with Lenny W. (maybe Washington) with only 8 guys which included some 10 days. Thrashing GS last year on a B2B with no Kawhi. I am sure I missed a couple.
On a side note. My wife and we’re at the Clippers game. Only our second road game. We were blown away by the number of Raptor fans. The plane ride home seemed like a Raptors booster charter. You sat in the seat directly in front of me. (Thanks for not tilting your seat way back). What are the top cities (other than Detroit) that have the biggest Raptor contingents?
Keep up the good work.
A: The Washington game was eight guys with three on 10 days against the Jordan Wizards and was totally unexpected, as was that win in Golden State in the regular season a year ago. I don’t know where I’d put that Laker win but, having seen the Lakers, I don’t thing it’d make my top 10. But I haven’t gone through ‘em all today and won’t. It was unexpected, though, that’s for sure.
Now, I will NEVER tilt my seat back and I hope no one else ever does and I know which table at LAX you and The Great Grange were talking at and I’m disappointed (a) that you didn’t some say hello and (b) that I sat a table over and did some work.
For Raptors fans, outside of Cleveland and Detroit for obvious geographic reasons, I’d put LA, Phoenix and Miami in a top 5. I can’t tell you how many times in Miami in the nice fresh air concourse outside our seating area that I’ve caught up with friends from Canada at halftime and left feeling really good.
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Q: Good evening Doug,
Hope you are enjoying the lotus land weather while we in your hometown are facing the first come on of the year.
The Three Pointer today was in my mind excellent and I am sure if guys like Boucher, Hollis Jefferson if they are able to read the column it will give them a boast. Going back a few year we had Biyombo who came on like gangbusters. Then Spicy followed and most of us were scratching our head asking were he came from. I have loved the man from day one. Now Boucher has shown that he is capable of producing.
Is it only me seeing a lot of similar traits in the three. Granted Spicy has stood out the most but think to the time Biyombo nailed 24 boards. It was a great win to say the least. Have fun in the sun and bring back some heat to us.
A: I think Siakam’s skills are several, several, several levels above Bismack’s and I honestly have no idea how good Pascal can be because every time they’ve needed him to improve some facet of his game, he has by a tremendous margin.
It really has been astonishing to watch and I don’t think it’s over.
Q: Hello Doug,
If my eyes don’t deceive me, it seems that teams are shooting at opposite ends from last year. That is, a team will shoot at the basket in front of the opposing team’s bench in the 2nd half. Why the change? I can’t imagine in the grand scheme of things it makes much of a difference. Although, I seem to recall Casey talking about liking to have the opposing offense on his end in the 2nd half, the better to coach defense.
I assume you won’t be paying too much (any?) attention to the James Naismith Classic this weekend. (In case you missed it, the college basketball season is underway. Juwan Howard is off to a 2-0 start. You’re welcome?).
A: Super Son spent the day watching the college games, I was otherwise engaged doing things. Can’t say I missed it.
The visiting team in each arena has the choice of which end they want to shoot at to start the game, it’s always been that way. I haven’t noticed more teams switching things up this year but there’s also only been four home games.
But yeah, Dwane’s point is the salient one, I’ve found that for communication reasons, most teams like to defend in front of their own bench at crunch time in the fourth quarter.
Q: Sir: I can’t comment on another single NBA team because I don’t see enough of them, but, one thing the Raptors do better than their competition (collectively) is the use their off (left) hand when driving to the hoop. Pascal, Fred, Norm, OG, Kyle and others, and earlier JV, DeMar were all extremely proficient at this. Is this something that our Old Pal Dwane pushed because it seem to start in his era?
A: Being able to finish in traffic with either hand – especially a player’s “off” hand – is an NBA skill every player in the league works on every day.
I will say I have noticed Fred finishing lefty at the rim far better this year than in the past. But everyone in the league tries to do it, it’s certainly not unique to this team or any coach any of these players have had.
Q: Hey Doug, regardless of the 5 other countries coming to Canada wouldn’t you consider Canada the favourite now that they’re the host country?
A fully loaded team, even a half-loaded team, would have done damage at the World’s, and I understand that all of our NBA talent can’t play on the national team, but “next to impossible” is a stretch.
My gut tells me the FIBA bosses will “draw” Canada a relatively easy group.
With Croatia, Serbia and Lithuania also hosting our biggest competition would be Greece or Germany, each team only having one star, and NN knows how to shut down the Freak.
We can and will dominate the rest of the African, America’s and Asian countries and I don’t see any European countries competing with Canada at this point.
I can see our group consisting of:
Tunisia, Brazil, DR, Czech or Germany or Russia, Poland or Greece
The Czechs and Poles are ranked far too high but that’s FIBA for you. In this case it’ll work in Canada’s favour since Canada is the lowest-ranked host nation and will surely host most of the highest-ranked visiting nations Greece, Brazil, Czech and Russia.
Even if FIBA really plays games and draws Canada with the highest-ranked teams:
Greece, Russia, Czech, Brazil, Italy.
You don’t see Canada winning that group easily?
A: I think we’re getting waaaaaaaay ahead of ourselves here. And I have said this a zillion times because I am right. I assure you nothing is “easy” in this game and until we see who is in uniform not only for Canada but for whichever five other teams are here, it’s a mug’s game to even think about it.
And I’m a lot of things but a mug ain’t one of ‘em.
Oh, they were gonna beat Venezuela “easy” in Mexico. Remember?
Even at this stage in his career, LeBron would be a legitimate contender to win the dunk competition. I think we’ve all long ago accepted the fact that he will never enter the contest, but why do you think he never did? Especially in that one year where he guaranteed he would enter the next year but didn’t follow through on that promise. He would have been a sure-fire lock to win at least once if he participated early in his career.
A: I don’t think he ever “needed” the dunk contest, I think he was almost too big to ever take part and I think players of his stature are kind of above the Saturday night all-star shenanigans.
Plus, the dunk contest, except for very, very, very, very rare occasions is boring.
Q: Hi Doug,
I think we can all agree that a hockey goalie has probably the toughest position in all of sports. The last line of defence, pucks shot at 100 mph clips, giants crashing the net, etc. An excellent goalie can lift his or her team’s spirit and lead them to a championship with confident and steady play. Similarly a star player on a basketball team can have a similar effect in terms of performance.
I don’t know the exact number but the number 1 goaltender of an NHL team seem to play about seventy-five percent of regular season games. I think it is a rare occurrence for one to play more than 70 games.
What I’m trying to say is in the hockey world load management, at least for one position on the ice, is the norm, is expected, and is accepted. In basketball, not so much.
Why do you think there are different points of view regarding load management/rest between the two sports?
A: I don’t think we can all agree on that at all but that’s another discussion for another day.
I think there are differences in load management because the loads are entirely different.
Yeah, a goalie might play a lot of games but many minutes of those games are idle and not taxing whatsoever. As for the best players, putting aside the physical grind of each game because they’re different and demand different things, the very best hockey players play, what? About 22-24 minutes of every 60-minute game and might actually be “in” the play with the puck for eight, or 10 or maybe 20 seconds a shift and the very best basketball player might play 33-4 minutes of every 48-minute game and be actively involved in the play on every single possession?
I’m not saying one is harder than the other and I certainly don’t want to tick off the hockey fans more than I already do but to compare “loads” is ridiculous.