First off the top a very Happy Mother’s Day to all who qualify, hope you’re spoiled and taken care of and appreciated all day. Hope that all the time, of course, but especially today.
And now here’s another big old weekend mailbag to wade through before the 7 p.m. game, for which those of us who now don’t have to write an early story are very thankful.
Q: Hi Doug
From your perspective, is there anything left for the Toronto Argonauts to try in order to get more bums in seats at BMO Field? Moving there from the Rogers Centre has not helped and they are so far off the radar that they are now barely an afterthought.
Love your column too!
A: I honestly don’t know what’s next. I don’t think they market themselves well enough to a broad audience and maybe there’s some nifty way to get themselves in front of people that might work. Winning would help, you would think, but it really hasn’t so maybe there’s a way to sell sizzle instead of steak.
What I like even more than Kawhi Leonard’s dominance is his on-court demeanor. I love that he can dunk on someone like Embiid and then just run back on defence. I remember hearing about the similarly tempered Bjorn Borg back in the day. Apparently he had quite a temper in his youth until his parents, in an effort to quell it, took away his racquet for six months. After that, he always kept his cool. Do you know if at one time Kawhi did the usual antics (chest-thumping, stare-downs, trash-talking) at any level? And if so, what caused him to stop? Was it a coach? A parent? It’s my hope that with the playoffs he’s having, some more players will adopt his style.
A: I honestly don’t know about Kawhi but I suspect from what I’ve read that he’s always been kind of low key and undemonstrative. He’s not one for small talk and while we’ve all come to appreciate his skills having seen them up close so much I don’t think any of us have come to “know” him or what drives him.
Q: Hello Mr. Smith after Game 5:
I hope you are having a well deserved rest today (I mean Sunday), when there will hopefully be no need for a Game 7.
I am sending 3 questions your way for consideration.
1. What is an appropriate fan response at a game to a questionable or bad call by officials ?
I noted your comment that you dislike hearing “Refs You Suck”. It certainly isn’t eloquent, but gets the point across very directly. I have to admit getting caught up in the chant occasionally. And I hear it places other than Toronto. Do you have any suggestions for making our opinions known when there is a questionable or even outright bad call at a game? Have you heard any other fan responses that would be more appropriate. Certainly the comments made while watching from home would not be appropriate in public. Maybe a rousing round of “BOO” ?? Or is the answer to parallel to what we ask of players: play through it. Should fans just watch through it and forget the chanting?
2. How does this playoff series compare to others you have covered, this far, and pick a game.
You have covered more than most writers, and maybe the most. How would you compare this year’s playoffs so far, from any point of view you want, be it schedule, travel, accommodations at arenas for media, seats at arenas, food at arenas, etc. I hope that your minutes management through the regular season is paying off now, but I kinda doubt that would really help once into the frenzy of the playoff schedule. Here’s hoping you are finding ways to continue to make your health a priority.
Also, which game so far did you enjoy covering the most.
3. Raptors fans
I chatted on twitter with a nice 76ers fan who told me that their arena is the noisiest and most supportive one going. From TV it certainly was loud. I of course disagreed and he suggested I should come there to see for myself. Maybe one day, but it certainly won’t be for Game 6.
Also, I noted concern from others such as ekoreen and Jack that our fans may have slipped a bit in terms of support compared to other years. I think one factor that may be overlooked is Jurassic Park or whatever they now call it. I cant imagine any other team has an outdoor fan base that can beat that.
What is your opinion on whether we need to step up our support at games?
Thank you for your hard work facing a gruelling schedule to keep us informed and entertained as we continue on our journey through the playoffs and beyond. May the Raptors go far and stay healthy!
Happy Playoffs to you,
SB from Newmarket
A: Thanks for the kind words.
I’d prefer that fans cheer as opposed to express disgust but “Ref, you suck” really irks me for some reason and I suppose to express discontent, booing would be as far as I’d like anyone to go. But that’s just me.
Truth be told, these have been outstanding playoffs for us. Stayed a short walk from the arena in Orlando and the seats on the floor were excellent, the Philly arena is a great spot for the work aspects, good seating, big work room, good meals. The flights were a pain because we had to layover to cut costs but even they weren’t too horrible.
And, yeah, Toronto fans – at least the ones that can afford to go to games here and that’s part of the issue – have lost a bit of their edge. Late arriving, a bit too sedate unless urged to cheer – don’t get me started on the silly in-game screamers or PA guys who think they’re the show. Maybe part of it is complacency but the arena experience is not what it once was.
Q: Good afternoon Doug,
In the “on the Raptors” newsletter you were asked if there was one individual responsible for the overall success of player development. You answer was dead on with one exception in my mind. Yes there has been the various individuals who have contributed bi time to the success but you missed one!
Masai has to be without a doubt the main reason for the success of others for one simple reason – he lets them do their jobs and stays as far in the background as possible when compliments are passed out. Hope the man stays in Toronto for another 50 years.
A: He is the guy who makes the ultimate decision and he sees all the possibilities in person but if the people who work for him – and that’s many – don’t present him with the right players in within the group he looks at, well, you can see that being an issue right?
But, without doubt, he’s the guy who drives it and has obviously hired good people to work for and with him.
Q: Doug, I am hardly an NFL fan, to me it is a very boring game played by some outstanding athletes. Having said that I must say I was very impressed by a QB named by Josh Rosen, who I had never heard of. He apparently had a fairly mediocre first season and his team drafted another QB with the first draft choice. People, likely ink-stained wretches, wondered how we felt about the situation. His response was wonderful,
“It’s not like I’m some child soldier in Darfur. I’ve had it pretty good. I think it’s time I had some legitimate adversity handed to me.”
Two things came to mind. First, it is nice to see a pro athlete with a sense of what matters. Far too many are spoiled babies. Second, the guy actually knows where Darfur is and about the problem of child soldiers. I hope Rosen has a long, successful career.
Oshawa (used to be Newcastle)
A: I profess to having no clue who or what Josh Rosen was until about the same time as you, although I did not see that wonderful quote. I, too, will cheer for him although I presume the next time I hear of him is when he’s released.
But, yeah, totally refreshing and nice perspective that I wish more athletes had.
Q: Hello Doug,
I’m sending this Wednesday morning while re-watching last night’s glorious win. By the time your mailbag appears we’ll either be waiting for the Bucks (gotta be them, right?) or stressing over Game 7. Sports, eh? You never, ever, (even after watching billions of games in dozens of sports) EVER know and would we want it any other way?
So, moving away from basketball with this question and settling on you (because, as we’re gently and frequently reminded, it’s all about….).
I think I was about 12 years old and watching “The Glenn Miller Story” when I noticed that Jimmy Stewart was breathing all wrong as he played the trombone. It occurred to me then that he probably didn’t actually know how to play the trombone and that this was all part of acting. (I’d recently begun playing the trumpet in the McKee Avenue Public School Concert Band and knew something about embouchure and the mechanics of making sound.) So, while it’s fun to suspend disbelief, isn’t it also satisfying to see performances that accurately reflect something or someone with which or whom you’re familiar? For example, these days, I’m remembering the film “Big Night” as we plan for a major event where I work.
So, murder mysteries are a personal fave and I’m currently reading one entitled “Black and White and Dead All Over” that takes place in the newsroom of a fictional daily newspaper in New York City. I’m enjoying it, but I wonder if you were to read it you’d find your own version of Jimmy Stewart’s wonky trombone technique that would diminish your enjoyment of the story.
And finally my question: Do you have favourite movies, television shows or books that you feel accurately portray your experience as a reporter? How about any that were delightfully inaccurate? Thank you!
A: Obviously the movies that are based in history – All The President’s Men, The Post – are excellent depictions of reality, as was a way under-rated one called The Paper.
Not sure about books, actually, and I am sad to say that the great Oscar Madison was pretty far removed from the reality of our job. So, too, was Ray Romano, who never seemed to work.
But if you can find any old episodes of the TV show Lou Grant, it’s pretty good and was pretty close to the reality back then.
Q: Good afternoon Doug,
Hope you are enjoying what is now the fourth quarter of the Sunday game. This is not a basketball thing but the Kentucky Derby fiasco. My knowledge of the rules is limited to the fact that jockeys cannot run along side of horses but like millions I am attracted to a very few races – the Derby being the main one.
In the course of the race and before hearing of the objection I noticed the bumping among a few horses and simply laid it to conditions of the track. Basically there were 16 horses jockeying for position and one would have to think that footing was not the best. How the stewards could possibly say someone purposely interfered with other horses in those conditions is short of amazing. Not sure if I can agree with the change of winner.
A: I was watching in the lobby bar of the Philly airport Marriott with Gumby and Sy and as soon as the race ended I said there’d be an inquiry because the alleged winner drifted so far right.
I did not for a second think it would be upheld – and neither did Perk ‘cause The Mighty Quinn texted him right away – because of what was at stake.
But through the letter of the law, Maximum Security went too far and had to be taken down.
Ballsy call, though.
Q: Hi Doug,
Can I say how much I enjoy this time of year? The sun is out longer, the grass is getting greener, and on my drive into work in the morning I can hear extended Raptors coverage on both of the local sports radio stations with nary a mention of the Leafs. Now for a question: How much are the Raptors benefiting from their accumulated playoff experiences over the past few years?
To win in the playoffs takes as much physical strength as mental strength and the lessons learned from the past must have some upside for the Raptors as this year. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed!
A: Experience is huge wherever you get it and while the Raptors have had a lot as a franchise, the fact is that three of their top seven players – Leonard, Gasol, Green – got their experience with other teams. But it can’t be discounted, players learn through the years what the playoffs are like and very little surprises or overwhelms them.
Q: Why aren’t the Raptors using Jeremy Lin?
Lin is a seasoned veteran with playoff experience and his passing/assists are excellent and as of the last few games his shooting is better than most of the team. Not much to loose by getting him into the game – one option Nurse has not tried.
A: Wondered when I’d get one of these.
Jeremy Lin, before this season, had appeared in a grand total of 17 playoff games and none since 2016, had never been on a team that got out of the first round, shot 20 per cent from three-point range and averaged about three assists per game. “Seasoned veteran with playoff experience and his passing/assists are excellent” simply isn’t true.
And, yeah, there’s tons to lose by putting him into a game that’s still in doubt. Namely, the game.
Q: Hello Doug,
Why is that at some NBA arenas the Raptors broadcast team has to call the game from a higher perch? I don’t recall that being the case in Philly for the regular season but it is for the playoffs. I seem to remember that’s the case in Washington during the season and I think there’s another arena, maybe Charlotte? I presume it has to do with space, which leads to my next question.
Who are all the non-broadcast people on the sidelines? There seems to be an excess amount of them.
A: That’s a league-wide trend that starts in the regular season, actually. Teams have figured out they can sell seats for four figures per game that used to be given away free to broadcasters, and writers. Very few arenas have us courtside or even close to the floor any more.
Who are those people who aren’t fans? Generally they are stats crews, official scorers, shot and game clock operators, national TV floor directors, maybe a couple of scouts. But believe me, it’s the minimum number because teams want the maximum available great seats.
Q: Hi Doug
I had a question about money, lots of money. The Raptors can give Kawhi a bigger max deal than other teams but in an effort to sweeten the pot even more, is it possible that a major Canadian Telco could offer him an extra $10m or so a year to be an endorser of their mobile phone or internet services. Does the league have rules against this as the money is coming from the same pile?
A: No, not at the behest of or even in the wink-and-nod scenario you paint. The league looks at everything with a microscope and it would not fly.
Q: Hey Doug,
I just want to preface this question by stating that, as a Raptors’ fan, I am grateful for the work Masai has done in helping us turn the franchise around the past few years.
My question is, after what we’re seeing in the playoffs, do you think an argument can be made that the JV/Gasol trade was the first poor move that Masai has made as GM? JV’s defensive rebounding and post scoring, as well as Delon’s contributions off the bench would sure look good right now vs the Sixers. And I think a case can be made that, in 2019, JV is a better player than Gasol – not to mention 7 years younger.
It seems like this is shaping up to be a trade that hurts us both in the present, and in the future. We gave up depth and youth to arguably downgrade at Center. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the trade 5 months later?
A: I can certainly see the validity in your point that it was a tough trade and a huge gamble but you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger Valanciunas fan than I am and I’d make that trade 100 times out of 100.
They don’t get to where they are this morning without Gasol and this is an all-in year where you had to give this group the best chance to win.
The harsh realities are it would have probably cost $100 million or more to keep JV and who knows where the team will be, Delon’s a free-agent and will likely be too expensive as a third guard and CJ’s time here was done.
So for now and the future, I can defend the deal. And when it was made, I don’t think anyone could have seen these six games – well, two of them – unfolding as they did.
Like all trades, it was a gamble. A necessary gamble, I’d say.
Q: Hey Doug,
I see that my idol when I was a basketball junkie was in attendance for both games 5 and 6. In my opinion he was the originally claw and Kawhi reminds me of him. Quietly doing their jobs, not being a showboat. Just trying to win. I would be interested in his thoughts on Kawhi but for you, do you know the team that originally drafted him?
With respect to a question on the series…with Fred and Norman looking overmatched against the Sixers, why not McCaw, Boucher or Miller for a few minutes to match size and quickness. Coach Brown did it last night with Maranovic instead of Amir.
A: I’m not sure who your idol is but I’m glad he was there.
Kawhi was drafted by Indiana with the 15th pick in the 2011 draft and traded that night for George Hill.
Boban was like minus-1,000 in about six minutes of Game 6!
I can maybe see McCaw in some of the Norm minutes but he has very, very, very limited offensive skills. Boucher would be eaten alive in these kinds of games because he’s not physically ready, same with Miller.
Q: Hi Doug,
Do you think that this round 2 is making up a lackluster first round of the NBA playoffs?
A: I type this before any of the Game 7s are played on Sunday but, yes. A thousand times yes. Has been the best second round I can remember.
Q: Hey Doug:
A: I thought originally this series would go six games so I guess seven makes sense. Two very, very good teams.
The Celtics? A toxic mix of personalities and guys who want to get paid and guys who already have been paid, I have never once thought Kyrie Irving makes anyone around him better despite his prodigious talents and I think Brad Stevens is a better coach with under-achievers than he is with too much talent.
I expect Irving to leave, I think Terry Rozier will and I think Boston will be a middle of the East pack next year.
Q: Hi Doug,
With so many young NBA and NCAA college stars coming from Canada and especially the southern Ontario area, the media coverage of the next generation is sorely lacking. Back in the day, with City-TV coverage and David Grossman’s column and radio show on the Fan, we all knew about players like Philip Dixon, Rowan Barrett, Jamal Magloire and Leo Rautins before they got to the next step.
Now, aside from Andrew Wiggins or RJ Barrett going, we hear nothing in the media until the kids get to college and more specifically the NCAA tournament, except for the Biosteel game.
Maybe once or twice a year could somebody run a column on the next generation so we actually find out who our stars are before they get to the NCAA tournament.
A: I’ll try to take care of this next year but I have to tell you, I wonder about the broad appeal of it. And, frankly, once I get into the rhythm of a season, finding the time is difficult.
But we can be a bit better, maybe not the standards you want, and will try to.
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