Archive for May, 2010
Monday, May 31st, 2010
Monday May 31 2010 – 8:45pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
You’ve read enough speculation over the last few days RE: what might become of his days as a Toronto Raptor and which team may be interested in acquiring his services. You’ve read about the doom and gloom of the Raps or the positive upswing this could bring (IF Bryan Colangelo can actually find a suitable trading partner).
So instead of weighing in with my own repetitive speculation, I figured I’d look at Turkoglu’s quotes specifically and break them down / analyze them myself.
The guys at The Basketball Jones did a great job translating Hedo’s comments to Turkish TV (NTVMSNBC) and here are some of his key lines:
“I’ve been playing in the USA for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve been booed by my own team’s fans. It’s a shocking situation and it made me feel extremely bad after. That was the most embarrassing moment in my life. God bless everyone, no exceptions!”
- The booing in Toronto is uncalled for sometimes and far too excessive at times. There are too many fair-weather fans that feel ‘booing’ will motivate a struggling team as opposed to ‘cheering’ them on and rallying the team through positive means, not negative. HOWEVER, when effort (or perceived effort) is in question; when heart/commitment/attitude/body language is open for interpretation … this city will turn on you. And that’s something you can’t blame the fans for. Perhaps the reason Turkoglu was booed for the first time in 10 years is that he showed up out of shape and was unproductive for, arguably, the first time in 10 years.
“… that’s why I said I have some issues with the organization. I felt sore at the Jazz game and didn’t play against Mehmet [Okur] in the second half. I’ve never come out and said, “I won’t play tonight” during my career. And it was not the case in Toronto either. I played through a hip injury, some ankle pain and, as you all know, cheekbone damage all year. I don’t even remember the shape of my nose anymore. Despite all of these challenges, I always intended to play and try my best.
After a sleepless Thursday night and not having eaten much, they asked me how I felt. I explained the situation and said, “I didn’t sleep. I’m not feeling good.” Their answer was, ‘We shouldn’t put you on the court without practicing.”
Our Italian physiologists said, “You are not starting today. After training on Sunday you’ll give it a go against Miami and Charlotte.” I nodded and did some weight work on game day.
Although they allowed me to go home, I wanted to watch the game with my teammates. After the game, I went back home. Some European teammates called me and said, “Hedo, are you sleeping?” Then they told me where they were hanging out, which is actually 100 meters away from my home. I said, “OK” and when I arrived, all the guys were here. And if you check the camera records, you will see that I left there in 15-20 minutes with Andrea Bargnani. I guarantee it. And if they prove me wrong, I will give back my contract!
The day after, the whole controversy erupted. They claimed that I intentionally skipped the game. And the worst thing is that the people making the claims were from Raptors’ management and they wanted to suspend me for two games. My attorney settled the dispute and Mr. [Bryan] Colangelo promised me that things would stay between us.
The following day, I was fined and did not play against Miami. After the statements of the front office, everybody in Toronto heard the news. Think about the situation I am in …
As I told you before, I have played for four different teams in 10 years in the NBA and I have never experienced anything like this. I bet nobody can prove these “party machine” rumors.
In fact, these events put me off both basketball and the Raptors organization. Needless to say, the fans started to lose my love. On the other hand, I have always had a good relationship with the fans. Before this incident they were incredibly happy when they saw me around town … They thanked me a million times for choosing Toronto over other options.”
- That’s his version of the story. The Raptors obviously have another. To be fair, I can kind of see where Hedo is coming from. We’ve all felt ill or tired or just out of sorts early in the day … only to end up feeling fantastic and ready to take on the world later in the day! But like the kid that stays home from school with a tummy ache, you don’t go out and shoot hoops or play road hockey with your friends when they all get home from school. You stay in. You rest.
Perception is reality.
You can’t miss a game or a half and then show up at a bar/club that same night. And it doesn’t matter if you were there for 15 minutes, 55 minutes, or 5 hours. It just doesn’t “look” good.
Thus, I believe the team was totally justified in disciplining Turkoglu for that incident. Jack Armstrong, however, did make a great point. Perhaps the Raptors could have / should have put Hedo on the Inactive List that night as opposed to making him wear the uniform and then just sit on the bench. If he was suspended or simply being sent a message, why put him in uniform and embarrass him? THAT could be where things soured.
“When the circumstances turned against me, I lost my enthusiasm for this city. My lawyers have talked to the front office recently. Honestly, I do not want to go back to Toronto. My lawyers talked to Mr. Colangelo and I hope that they will come up with a solution soon.
During this process I talked to [Raptors head coach] Jay Triano several times. I promised him that whether he starts me or not, I will do my best on the court. However, if I had a more temperamental personality, I would have left the team. Yet, I did exactly the opposite. I did my best. I told him that I have no problems with him. I am not a young player, so it’s not a big deal for me to come off the bench.”
- I don’t like the fact that Turkoglu is making it sound like he’s the one that is/was doing the Raptors a favour. He made a mistake, he was dealt with (rather softly as well — I mean, a one game ‘suspension’ is not exactly HARSH) and it was time to move on. But his ego was bruised and it probably just capped off a frustrating, disappointing year. Instead of looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for his inconsistent play (not that it’s all on him; it’s the system and style and new team too) he looked to point fingers. Instead of sitting back and waiting to see what becomes of the Raptors this summer — with or without Chris Bosh — he is bailing on Toronto without knowing what lies ahead.
What if Bosh goes? Wouldn’t you imagine that Turkoglu would be a more focal point of the offence?
What if one of the point guards is dealt? Wouldn’t you imagine that Turkoglu would have a chance to handle the ball more and have the offence run through him more often?
This interview and these comments were ill-advised and irresponsible. However, Turk had to know what he was doing and what he was saying. It’s hard to imagine that this wasn’t a calculated move; it’s not like he was caught off-guard – TMZ style — coming out of a restaurant. This was a planned interview in a controlled setting/environment in which he had time to think about his answers. He wanted to send a message, and he did.
Now we’ll wait to see how Colangelo and the Raptors respond to that message.
… And the world turns in this soap opera of a summer for Toronto.
Again, thanks to the translators at The Basketball Jones (http://blogs.thescore.com/tbj/)
Monday, May 31st, 2010
Monday May 31 2010 – 9:58am Eastern – Toronto, ON
The Toronto Raptors will begin hosting pre-draft workouts at the ACC today, with 4 NCAA standouts coming to town to strut their stuff for the Raps’ management team and coaches.
In attendance today:
Willie Warren Guard 6-4 Oklahoma State
Avery Bradley Guard 6-2 Texas
Gordon Hayward Forward 6-9 Butler
Stanley Robinson Forward 6-9 Connecticut
The workouts will continue with a new crop of players (yet to be determined) tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday.
The NBA Draft takes place on June 24, in New York. The Raptors have the 13th overall pick.
Friday, May 28th, 2010
Friday May 28 2010 – 11:30am Eastern – Toronto, ON
This is the second time I’m posting this blog … but I want to be sure it gets some play!
Summer is quickly approaching and it’s time once again for the Annual 100-Hole Charity Golf Challenge in support of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario (SB&H).
Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain. This can result in many long term effects including impaired vision, headaches, sensitivity to changes in external pressure, hearing sensitivity, hormonal imbalance, seizures and in untreated cases, brain damage.
One of my closest friends, Justin, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of 10 and had two separate surgeries in connection with the insertion of a shunt. We continue to be grateful to the staff at McMaster General Hospital for ensuring that Justin is completely healthy. He’s been symptom and issue free for 20+ years now … living a completely “normal” life.
Justin is now one of the top corporate lawyers at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and he’s also on the board of directors for SB&H. He and his wife recently celebrated their daughter’s 1st birthday as well.
The Golf Challenge is SB&H’s primary fundraiser for the year and an excellent opportunity for me – and many others – to embarrass ourselves on the golf course. We will attempt to play 100 holes each … in 1 day!
Funds raised through this event will ensure that SB&H can continue to support families, children and youth living with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus through research, care, awareness and advocacy programs. SB&H is the only charity in Ontario providing support, education and information to children, parents and adults living with the challenges of these conditions. Further, SB&H receives no government funds and is dependant solely on private donations and fund raising events.
I know that you are all approached to donate to many worthy causes, and we’re all dealing with an economy that has still not completely recovered … but I would greatly appreciate your support in pledging me for this great cause.
Your donation is 100% tax deductible and a tax receipt will be mailed to you.
If you are able to pledge me at this time, you can donate here:
Click “Donate Now” and then go through the process …
Just be sure to select my name in the drop-down menu beside “Fund/Designation”.
If you’d prefer to send me a cheque or cash, I’d gladly accept that as well and take care of the paperwork for you.
On behalf of Justin and I and the members and directors of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Onario, we sincerely thank you.
All the best,
E. Smith and Justin Parappally
Friday, May 28th, 2010
Friday May 28 2010 – 11:26am Eastern – Toronto, ON
GOAT TO HERO
Ron Artest jacks up a 3-ball with about :50 seconds left in the game after a big offensive rebound by Pau Gasol. As a result, the door is left open for the Suns to continue their comeback (ultimately Phoenix did tie the game). Artest should have held the ball … the Suns would have been forced to foul … and the Lakers would have had a shot at icing the game.
But moments later Artest redeem himself in the biggest way possible with his buzzer-beating put-back off the Kobe Bryant miss. Artest won the game for LA and brought the Lakers to within 1 game of their 3rd straight NBA Finals.
HERO TO GOAT
Jason Richardson’s bank-shot 3-ball with just over 3 seconds to go tied the game and had a lot of folks prepping for overtime.
However, Richardson was the primary defender responsible for blocking out Artest on the final play of the game — something he obviously didn’t do … as Ron-Ron pulled off the heroics.
I will say though … most of Richardson’s teammates were flat-footed as well. Watch the replays and you’ll see 3-4 Suns’ defenders simply standing around — and not even contesting Artest’s shot — as the play went down and time expired.
LET ‘EM ALL PLAY
Jeff Van Gundy brought up an interesting point a couple of nights ago when the Celtics were getting hammered with injuries and concussions and what not …
Allow teams to dress EVERY player on their roster for playoff games.
I like it. With so much on the line in the post-season, why not allow 15 players to wear the uniform? Odds are the 3 extra players wouldn’t see the floor but it would give a coach options and it would help prevent teams like the Celtics from planning undermanned in such a crucial situation and series. Are you telling me that Doc Rivers couldn’t have used Brian Scalabrine the other night after Kendrick Perkins was ejected, Rasheed Wallace was banged up, and Baby Davis was concussed?
JJ vs ANDY
Paul Jones and I both spoke with a couple of scouts and at least one General Manager this year who all described Andy Rautins (Syracuse / CANADA) as a future NBA’er with skills very similar to – and maybe even better than – JJ Redick.
With due respect to Rautins, some of those folks may want to take back those comments after the way Redick has performed of late against the Celtics.
Redick has gone from an afterthought in his first two seasons with Stan Van Gundy to a key member of the rotation right now … and a guy that is often taking minutes away from Vince Carter!
Known as a one-dimensional player (a guy who can only ‘shoot’) for the longest time, Redick has reinvented himself on the fly and proven to his coach and his teammates that he is worth of being on the floor for his much-improved defence and ball handling skills as well.
The thinking from those NBA folks that Jonesy and I spoke with was that Rautins is bigger, stronger, and quicker than Redick and he’s a better decision-maker and defender as well. The only thing JJ had a leg up on was the shooting (which Rautins is no slouch at either).
PERHAPS Redick’s improvements will help Rautins’ draft stock … if teams recognize that Andy MIGHT be able to do for them what the Duke grad is doing for Orlando
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Wednesday May 26 2010 – 9:19pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
I was sitting around earlier today … fiddling with my BlackBerry and I figured it was time to clean out my picture folder.
So here’s a brief trip down memory lane with some shots I snapped (in no particular order) with the BB during the 2009-2010 NBA season.
Have a good one folks. Enjoy the 2nd half of the Celtics and Magic.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Tuesday May 25 2010 – 3:58pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
This may have flown under the radar over the course of the weekend but it’s certainly a story worth mentioning …
(San Juan, Puerto Rico) FIBA Americas announced today that the Argentine Basketball Federation (Spanish: Confederación Argentina de Basket Ball – CABB) has been awarded the right to host the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship for Men. The tournament, which serves as the Olympic qualifier for the 2012 Games in London, will take place in August in the city of Mar del Plata.
Canada Basketball was one of the three federations that presented to the FIBA Americas Central Board today to with a strong proposal host this prestigious event in the city of Toronto. Brazil was the other candidate.
“The Argentine Basketball Federation did an excellent job,” said Wayne Parrish, Executive Director and CEO for Canada Basketball. “They have demonstrated once again why they have become such a powerhouse in the international game. While our players would have loved to have been in Toronto in front of a home crowd, Mar del Plata is not a bad second choice.”
The Canadian delegation put forth what was widely considered to be the strongest presentation of the three finalists, with the best offering of world class facilities and amenities. The presentation was capped off by a special video testimonial by Steve Nash in support of Toronto’s bid and the value that the tournament would bring to help to develop the game of basketball in Canada.
In the end, the decision came down to the level of financial support behind each of the bids. “We had tremendous support,” said Parrish, “but it’s difficult to compete when the other countries are able to provide up-front guarantees that we’re just not able to match in the Canadian context.”
“First of all, I congratulate Argentina,” added Leo Rautins, Head Coach for the Senior Men’s Team, and one of the members of the Canadian delegation. “I’m very proud of our presentation and the effort behind our bid. As with our team, we’ve taken young players and are developing them to become world class athletes. Likewise this bid is a part of the process of becoming a primary player as a federation with FIBA.”
Canada Basketball had been working closely with six partners – the City of Toronto, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Tourism Toronto, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada and Ontario Basketball – to develop its bid.
“I think today we reached a new level for Canada Basketball,” said Maurizio Gherardini, Senior Vice-President of the Toronto Raptors and Managing Director of Canada’s senior men’s team, who joined Parrish and Rautins as part of the Canadian delegation. “FIBA Americas and FIBA have both recognized the role we can play in developing the international game.”
Parrish added, “Obviously this is a huge disappointment. Our partners and our staff put a tremendous amount of effort into our bid over the past eight months. But I think we have established a new level of respect for Canada within the international basketball community. There will be other events and other opportunities. Today we laid the foundation for the future.”
Monday, May 24th, 2010
Blogging on a holiday Monday … is there a medal for that?
Let’s check out some Random Thoughts from yesterday’s battle in the desert …
1. I’ve got a ton of respect for Derek Fisher as a person and as a player but I really have to question his reaction to the slight bump that Robin Lopez delivered to him in last night’s tilt in Phoenix. While running up the floor – after a made bucket for the Suns – Lopez and Fisher got inadvertantly tangled up. But as Lopez moved away, he threw a bit of a hip-check in Fisher’s direction. It was a Bush League (and senseless) move by Lopez, however, Fisher’s reaction was worse. The Lakers guard ran down the floor and went after the Suns big man from behind. It was a moment that had the potential to escalate into something bigger; a potential fight? And that’s the last thing either team would need at this point. As it turned out, tempers didn’t flare too badly and both men were assessed offsetting technical fouls. But it’s that kind of machismo that can get a player and his team in trouble. If there was ever a time to turn the other cheek and not get caught up in the schoolyard antics, now – in the Conference Finals – would be that time. I expected more from a veteran and champion like Fisher.
2. We’ve all seen Craig Sager wear some WILD outfits over the years, but Sunday’s get-up may have been the weirdest of all. White shoes, white pants, pink and white striped shirt with a pink blazer and a pink floral-print tie. Wow. As Phil Jackson said during his end-of-the-first-quarter interview, Sager looked like some sort of ice cream salesman. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Sager and Don Cherry on the same set together? It’d be a fashion dream (or nightmare)!
3. With the series finale of “Lost” being on ABC last night, I wonder how many people were actually tuning in to the Lakers and Suns. Thankfully we have PVRs and timeshifting and the ability to ignore things like Facebook and Twitter for a few hours so no surprises – on the island drama or in the basketball game (depending on what you were watching) – were ruined!
4. Steve Nash rearranging his nose after getting hit by Fisher late in the game last night simply validated his Canadian citizenship that much more. That dude it TOUGH. If you’re a member of the Suns and your 36-year-old leader is laying his body on the line like that and pushing his nose back into place in between free throws … how can you NOT give it your all and battle as hard and as passionately for every second and every possession of the game?
5. Speaking of battling hard and showing passion … how ’bout the performance of Amare Stoudemire in Game 3. The athletic big man went off for 42 points and shut up his numerous critics – for now. Stoudemire had been called out by a number of people for looking very ‘average’ through the first two games of the series. But he dominated LA’s front court on Sunday. And with Lopez going off as well, Phoenix was able to hold off the Lakers in the 4th quarter and make this Western Conference Final a series again.
Comments are always welcome below.
Now I’m off to figure out what the hell that final episode of Lost (let alone the series itself) was really all about.
Have a good one folks
Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Thursday May 20 2010 – 10:04pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
I was supposed to check in with this earlier … but my prep for the “100 Holes of Golf” Charity Challenge has been taking a ton of my free time. That, and just watching hoops! But I’m back with a look at the Western Conference playoff picture. Here we go:
1. At this point in his career, my gut says that Kobe Bryant is completely cool with LeBron James or Kevin Durant winning as many MVPs as they want to; he wants rings, period. That’s not to imply that LBJ or Durant don’t want to win championships as well, but Bryant is driven by more than personal glory at this stage of his career. He is staring down Jordan’s rings and Magic’s titles with LA … not the regular season’s MVP award.
2. Speaking of Kobe and LeBron … how is it / why is it that Kobe waits for the spotlight to come to him yet LeBron goes after it? Perhaps it’s just a personality thing … but have you ever seen Bryant mugging for his teammates while they pretend to take his picture with an invisible camera? Or does Kobe throw the rosin in the air and make a theatrical cloud of smoke every time he starts a game? It’s just an observation. To me, Kobe is more like MJ; the silent assassin kind of personality on the floor … but off the floor … a guy that can be engaging in interviews and comfortable in front of Hollywood cameras too.
3. I was going to leave the “Kobe” topic alone and move on to something else, but speaking of Bryant’s Hollywood talents … did you happen to see ABC’s “Modern Family” last night? If you haven’t see this show yet, it’s one of the best written and acted (and FUNNY) shows on television right now. Bryant made a cameo on the season finale … check it out:
4. If the story is true that Sasha Vujacic and Goran Dragic have some sort of rivalry going on, I’ll put my money on Dragic. And, yes, I would have said that BEFORE his monster game (well, 4th quarter) against the Spurs as well. Vujacic is coming off a career-worst 2.8 PPG … and he averaged less than 10 minutes of action over 67 games. Whether he’s on a down-turn in his career or just having ‘one of those years’ it would appear that Vujacic’s struggles are coming at a time when Dragic is on the RISE!
5. Look for Mark Cuban to be reaching into his wallet again. Not only is he tugging at his purse strings for a potential pursuit of LeBron James this summer, Cuban can probably expect to be paying the head office before any other monetary exchange goes down! Cuban’s comments about James could easily be construed as tampering by the league office and based on how the powers-that-be have handled the maverick Mavericks owner in the past, I can’t imagine the NBA won’t issue some sort of fine. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s any way in hell that LBJ is going to Big D.
Have a good one folks. I’ll check back again soon!
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Tuesday May 18 2010 – 10:35am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Please help out a great cause … and bid early and often:
Monday, May 17th, 2010
Monday May 17 2010 – 12:09pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
It has been a couple of days since I last checked-in … but I’m back from a relaxing weekend and ready to roll when some thoughts from the Eastern Conference …
1. PREFACE: *THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN* … but … If LeBron James is looking to expand his profile and if he’s interested in playing alongside Chris Bosh … and if he has a desire to stay in the East (and avoid the battles of the West every night) … why not come to Toronto?! He’d be playing in the 4th largest market in North America and EVERY SINGLE ONE of his games would be televised nationally (in Canada). And a LeBron/Bosh combo in Toronto would probably guarantee about a third of their games being broadcast nationally in the U.S. as well. Talk about a global icon. He’d own the league on both sides of the border and if their were any Europeans left in Toronto after the Raptors orchestrated a sign-and-trade to get LBJ, the King would have a massive following overseas (not that he doesn’t have a large contingent already) as well. He’d be making U.S. dollars and spending Canadian for 7-8 months of the year too. Granted, the Canadian and American currency is pretty much on par right now but who knows if those numbers would hold up over the course of a 5-6 year deal. And from a marketing standpoint … James would become the top endorser and marketer for a myriad of companies in Canada — I’m sure of it; and it’s not like he’d lose his gigs in the U.S. as well. So he’d be raking in the dough on BOTH sides of the border. At the risk of breaking my own rules (RE: fantasy trades) I’d think that a combination of 2-3 players from the following list would be better for the Cavs in a sign-and-trade that what is rumored from the Bulls right now (Luol Deng): Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack … future picks? Anyway, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. And you all know how much I *HATE* fantasies and rumors. Which brings me to my next point …
2. As I’ve said a million times RE: the Chris Bosh rumors … I’m not buying anything until we get a little bit closer to (a) the NBA Draft and/or (b) the actual free agent sweepstakes opening up in July. Too much can happen between now and then and too much bogus information can be thrown out there as well! Thus, I’m not believing a word of the LeBron James hype either! Knicks … Bulls … Cavs … whatever. Let’s just let the dust settle a little bit and then see how things unfold in another month or so.
3. Speaking of LeBron … Why is John Calipari such a hot commodity right now? Is it legit, or is it simply another example of the ‘hype machine’ going full tilt? I mean, the guy is a solid coach and a great basketball mind but NCAA success doesn’t always equate to NBA success! Heck, Calipari himself should know that; he has tried his hand at the pro game already. I’ve never met the man (Jack Armstrong knows him very well and says he’s a stand up guy) so I’m not going to rip him … but I do have to wonder how/why he is supposedly the best option for LeBron (according to some report/rumors). I’m not sure I buy that.
4. Moving on to the post-season in the East … Remember when I warned you last week about the Celtics riding a high right now … and the Magic maybe being rusty given the fact that they had played only 8 games in about 30 days and had yet to be tested in the post-season? Well, it sure played out that way in Game 1 yesterday … as Boston looked confident and dominant at times and the Magic were spinning their wheels.
5. Finally … Growing up a Laker fan (Magic Johnson) … my ‘hatred’ for the Boston Celtics runs deep. As a result … I can’t bring myself to EVER cheer for them. So I don’t know if it’s that deep-rooted dislike that has me secretly pining for the Magic or if it’s the fact that I want to see Vince Carter in the Finals. Yep, I said it … I want to see VC succeed. I don’t like the way things ended here in Toronto – and he played a BIG role in that. But I still think that the bulk of his time in Toronto should be looked upon in a positive manner and he’s always been a stand-up guy in any professional or personal dealings I’ve had with him. Plus, as I noted last week (here, or on Raptors.com) the ‘soft’ label that some people tagged Carter with has been wiped out by the fact that he has missed less than 20 games (TOTAL) over the course of the past 5+ seasons. I’d love to see Air Canada take off to the Finals (and then lose to the Lakers (yes, I’m taking LA over PHX)).
Check back tomorrow for some thoughts on the West as well.
Thanks folks … Have a good one