Saturday March 21 2009 – 1:25pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
Rather than responding to some of the ”comments” in my previous blog (in last night’s Raptors/Bobcats recap), I figured I would write something fresh …
I am open to criticism. It comes with the job. It’s part of the business. And when you’re covering “sports” and interacting with the fans it’s only a given that there are bound to be differing opinions and disagreements.
But some of you have to realize the difference between optimism, pessimism, and realism.
And the word “objectivity” comes to mind as well.
You’re entitled to think what you like — that we (Jonesy and I) have rose-coloured glasses or that we’re too supportive of Jay Triano — but, of course, I/we beg to differ.
When have we not said that this has been a “brutal year”? When have we not said this has been a “disappointing year”? And have we not be saying for almost 6 weeks now that “we won’t mention the ‘P’ word (playoffs) anymore because this team simply isn’t good enough and hasn’t warranted that kind of respect; the respect that would deservedly put them in any post-season discussions”?
Plus, as recently as last night, did we not suggest that a major overhaul of the roster is needed? I specifically remember talking about the glaring weakness at the 2-3 (needing a guy who can break down his man … create his own shot … and give you 18-20+ on any given night). I remember talking about the weak bench – which was a strength just two seasons ago (and even last year to a certain extent) – and how it needs to be drastically improved. I also recall a discussion about Jose Calderon (one of the favourite targets for many fans this year) that Jonesy and I had … where we both agreed that he has struggled – for many reasons – with his first full-time starting role. And, finally, there was a quick chat on Shawn Marion too … and the fact that he may not be the right fit for this team. He’s a piece to the puzzle but maybe not that SCORING 2-3 they need.
So I’m failing to see where we’re so overly positive about this team. I’m not quite sure how those stances are rose-coloured. They’re objective. They’re realistic. They’re not Chicken Little.
Of course, the other two targets are Bryan Colangelo and Jay Triano.
(A) Colangelo. I think I speak for Jonesy when I say that we aren’t jumping on the ‘Attack BC’ bandwagon because I think many of you are hypocrites for doing so. The only people that are justified in their criticism of Colangelo right now are the people that DIDN’T think this was a 44-48 win team at the beginning of the season. If you didn’t think this team was capable of at least holding on to the 6TH seed they had last year – or finishing even higher at #4 or #5 – then kudos to you. You called it. And you have every right to voice your displeasure. However, if you’re like me (and MOST of you are), you had greater expectations for this team. And while the Raptors have come nowhere close to meeting those expectations, I don’t think it’s fair to pin it all on Colangelo. We saw what he saw (and when I say “we” – I’m clearly referring to the majority of you/us out there that had great hopes for the 2008-09 Raptors). Thus, I’m giving the man a chance to fix the problems. I still have faith in his abilities as a general manager and I think it’s absolutely preposterous for anybody to think that Colangelo should be fired. We can argue about whether or not BC is in the upper tier or lower tier of GMs in the league, but to say that he’s not capable of being a GM or that he deserves to be let go at this time is crazy.
(B) Triano. Some of you may call them “excuses”, but I call them “facts” …
Of the 6-7 coaches who have been fired this year, only one of the replacements has a record better than .500 (Tony DiLeo in Philly – who, by the way, has the security blanket of a front office job to fall back on when he’s done — something the other coaches, like Triano, don’t have. Most of these coaches don’t know where they’ll be next year). One of the greatest coaches of all time, Larry Brown, said as recently as this week that Triano is a great coach and that he needs (and maybe even deserves) a Training Camp to implement his style and his system. Brown said it’s all-but impossible to come in mid-stream — whether it’s 17 games in or 47 games in — and magically turn things around. Plus, as Jonesy has pointed out many times, take a look at Mike D’Antoni’s record in Phoenix the year he took over … and then look at what he has done since.
I have yet to say “bring back Jay Triano”. However, I have yet to say “fire Jay Triano”. Quite honestly, I don’t know what Jonesy has or hasn’t said on the issue. I’m objective and realistic enough to understand that if he is let go, it will be because Colangelo feels a new voice or vision is needed. It will be because the team simply didn’t turn it around the way BC had hoped for when he replaced Sam Mitchell with Triano. But if Jay IS brought back, it will be because Colangelo feels that the Canadian showed promise – even in all of the losses – as a head coach. It will be because his players like and respect him. It will be because of stability — wanting to keep a familiar face and voice in the fold instead of going with a 3rd coach in less than 12 months. And perhaps it will be because Colangelo realizes that Triano has had to deal with no less than 2 major pieces being injured for 10+ games (Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon (and Calderon hasn’t been truly healthy all season)) and a major trade (O’Neal and Jamario Moon for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks) completely altering the look and make-up of this team. Sprinkle in the stress and circus (for the players, fans, media) of the coaching change itself, all of the speculation of Bosh’s future in Toronto (plus his injury too — which kept him out of the All Star game and still lingers slightly right now) and the lack of a quality back-up point guard (Roko Ukic will be there one day – but he’s not there yet) and it’s understandable why Triano hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success.
Given all of those facts and issues, do you honestly think that Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich would be better than 16-36 right now? I know I don’t.
So there’s where I stand.
Criticize all you like — that’s part of sports / sports radio. But understand the difference between objectivity and subjectivity; pessimism and realism.