Archive for September, 2010
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Thursday September 30 2010 – 8:10pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
I had someone let me know last night that free agent centre, Erick Dampier, was going to be in town for a ‘visit’ with the Raptors today. So I broke that news in my blog late last night and then kept an eye on things throughout the day today – while I was hosting the 9am-12pm shift on the FAN as well.
Then late this afternoon I got another tip that Dampier was still at the ACC and that he’d be watching the Raptors evening practice. So …even though I wasn’t scheduled to cover the night session …I went down to the gym on my own time …to see what I could sniff out.
Dampier was indeed at the ACC but I was told that he was not talking to the media.
I did, however, get a 1 on 1 with Jay Triano …talking all about Dampier and the impact that he COULD have on the Raptors if he were to sign on the dotted line.
But that’s the key point right now … Dampier has NOT officially signed with the Raps. In fact, Triano said he believes that Dampier may still have a visit scheduled with another NBA club.
So the FAN has broken this story (as major or as minor as it may be) twice now; we’ve been all over it …and we’ll all see what ultimately happens and if he signs-on or not.
Dampier, a 14-year veteran, has averaged 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 rebounds per game for his career. He spent the past 6 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and his best year as a pro came in 2003-2004 when he 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds.
He turns 36 in July 2011.
Keep it tuned to the FAN 590 and the 20/20 updates for more info on this story – as it becomes available. And I’ll have any new info in this blog space and/or on Twitter as well.
Have a good one folks
* You can hear my 1 on 1 with Jay Triano in the AUDIO ON DEMAND section of this website or simply click on the link below:
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Thursday September 30 2010 – 10:02am Eastern – Toronto, ONGiven the fact that I’ve been working the 9am-12pm shift on the FAN 590 for the past couple of weeks … I haven’t had a chance to head down to the ACC to cover Raptors’ Training Camp yet. However, Paul Jones and others from the FAN have been there … holding down the fort for me.Keep it tuned to the FAN’s 20/20 sportscasts for the latest on the Raps and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on everything here as well …But one of the questions I’ve been asked the most in recent days concerns the TV (and radio) schedule for the Raptors pre-season games. How many – if any – games will be broadcast?Let me tell ya … we’ve got it good in T.O.While many cities around the league have little-to-no games on the exhibition broadcast sked … the Raptors will televise 6 of 8 pre-season games this year:Oct. 6 vs Phoenix (in Vancouver)Oct. 13 vs PhiladelphiaOct. 15 vs BostonOct. 17 vs PhoenixOct. 20 vs ChicagoOct. 22 vs New York (in Montreal)The two games that won’t be televised by the Raptors fall on October 10 (at Boston) and October 12 (at Chicago). However, those games ARE available via the Celtics and Bulls’ local TV feeds.As for the radio side of things … due to conflicts with the Major League Baseball playoff schedule, the FAN 590 is only able to broadcast the game against the Suns on Oct. 17.E. Smith———-* NOTE: The Vancouver and Montreal games will be on TSN and TSN2 respectively and the games in Toronto will be broadcast on Raptors NBA TV
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Wednesday September 29 2010 – 11:48pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
About a week ago it seemed like it was a foregone conclusion that free agent center, Erick Dampier, was going to sign with the Miami Heat.
But that fell through.
Then Houston and Milwaukee were next in line … battling for the veteran big man’s services.
However, the scuttlebutt around the Rockets has diminished (but not disappeared) and though the Bucks remained interested, their latest signing may take them out of the sweepstakes for Dampier.
Marc Spears (Yahoo Sports) announced on Wednesday evening that Milwaukee had come to terms with forward/center Brian Skinner. With Skinner in a Bucks uniform for a 2nd tour of duty, the assumption is that Dampier is not headed to Wisconsin.
So could he be leaning towards Toronto?
The Raptors can offer Dampier the same amount of money that he would have made (presumably BEFORE the Skinner deal) in Milwaukee … but T.O. can certainly offer more playing time. Damp would almost certainly start in the middle for the Raps.
Milwaukee papers were reporting on Wednesday morning – before the Skinner signing – that Dampier was scheduled to visit with Bucks GM John Hammond and then fly to Toronto to meet with Bryan Colangelo and company as well.
I’ve heard the same story – that Dampier could be in town to meet with the Raps this week; in fact that meeting may be as early as Thursday. We’ll see.
The 14-year veteran has averaged 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 rebounds per game for his career. He spent the past 6 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and his best year as a pro came in 2003-2004 when he 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds.
Dampier turns 36 in July 2011.
What could the Raptors line up look like WITH Dampier? Well, it would certainly help in moving Amir Johnson to the 2nd unit and it would allow Andrea Bargnani to play his natural position at the 4 …
PF – Bargnani / Reggie Evans
C – Dampier / Johnson
SF – Linas Kleiza or Sonny Weems
SG – DeMar DeRozan or Leandro Barbosa
PG – Jarrett Jack or Jose Calderon
We’ll see how it all unfolds over the next couple of days as the Raptors finish-up the early stages of training camp in Toronto and then head to Vancouver to finish camp and kick-off their pre-season sked.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Tuesday September 28 2010 – 9:30pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
- Jose Calderon visits the FAN 590 “tent” at Raptors MEDIA DAY on Monday
- Andrea Bargnani stopped by for a chat with Jack, Jonesy and me
- Jack got a little excited while talking to Raptor rookie Ed Davis
- Newest Raptor, Julian Wright, shared his thoughts on coming to Toronto from New Orleans
- Leandro Barbosa told us that he’s thrilled to be in Toronto after asking ‘out’ of Phoenix
- Jarrett Jack told the FAN that he’s had ‘leadership’ on his mind ’24/7′
- Sonny Weems was comfortable behind the mike; except when talking about tearing-up at Canada’s Wonderland
- Head Coach Jay Triano shares his thoughts on the 2010-11 season with me, Jack, and Jonesy
- Jack was still there — in on this interview — but he somehow didn’t make it into the pic with President and GM, Bryan Colangelo
Monday, September 27th, 2010
Monday September 27 2010 – 9:29pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
In spite of some technical difficulties off the top of the show (that delayed our start by about 15 minutes), the exclusive FAN 590 webcast of “Media Day” was a huge success … as Jack Armstrong, Paul Jones and I had a chance to chat with a ton of players, coaches, and management about the upcoming season.
If you missed the show — (we were going at it for nearly two and a half hours!) — click on the following link and listen to the webcast in its entirety.
You’ll hear from:
Jose Calderon – ‘The trade’ that didn’t happen … and more
Sonny Weems – Chemistry issues last year … and more
Leandro Barbosa – Thrilled to be in Toronto … and more
Linas Kleiza – Liking the young core of the Raptors … and more
Amir Johnson – The importance of being in Toronto in the off-season … and more
Jarrett Jack – Leadership, 24/7 is on his mind … and more
DeMar DeRozan – Ready to give some licks after taking his licks … and more
Andrea Bargnani – Improving his back-to-the-basket game … and more
Jay Triano – Learning to connect with his players even better … and more
Bryan Colangelo – Addressing the roster now & going forward … and more
Julian Wright – Looking for a fresh start with the Raps … and more
Ed Davis – Rehabbing his right knee … and more
… plus Matt Devlin, John Altilia, Sherman Hamilton and more …
I’ll have more from these interviews in the coming days – plus you’ll get some quick, ‘fun’ Q & A’s from various Raptors as well.
Enjoy the webcast and feel free to leave any comments below.
Have a good one folks
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Sunday September 26 2010 – 11:33pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
About 12 hours from now I’ll be getting set to sit down with Paul Jones and Jack Armstrong (after I finish hosting the 9am-12pm show on the FAN 590) at the ACC to host a web-only ‘show’ – LIVE – from Toronto Raptors MEDIA DAY at the ACC.
Be sure to tune in right around 12pm for 3 hours of coverage at www.fan590.com
We’ll chat with as many players, coaches, and members of the front office as possible … getting you primed and ready for the start of Training Camp.
I can’t believe that Camp is already upon us. It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that we were talking about Chris Bosh leaving for Miami with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade … and it really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were watching the LA Lakers hoist their second-straight Championship.
When all was said and done … the summer FLEW by.
What lies ahead of Toronto remains to be seen. While part of me thinks it would be crazy to think that a club that lost a “20 and 10″ player during the off-season has a chance to be BETTER this season, another part of me says that I have no real read on this team. For the first time since the Raptors’ existence, I don’t have a feel for what to expect.
Could this be a 20-win team or a 40-win team?
I can appreciate the arguments for both ends of the spectrum.
Like many teams, Toronto’s potential for success would seem to be rooted in a lot of “IFS” …
If the young core comes together quickly …
If Bargnani has a career year …
If Barbosa provides veteran leadership – and offensive punch at the wing …
If Kleiza can play like he did at the Worlds …
If Calderon and Jack can run the point efficiently – no matter who starts …
If the commitment to team defence is there …
If rebounding (overall) and intensity improves …
I think we all can agree that – in no particular order – the East playoff picture will include Miami, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, and Milwaukee. That would leave #7 and #8 up for grabs – MAYBE.
How far will Cleveland slide without LeBron?
Can the Bobcats duplicate their berth from 2009-10?
How good are the Knicks with Amare?
Could NJ make noise with or without Carmelo Anthony?
Are the Wizards able to orchestrate a major turn-around?
The East is rammed and the Raptors’ hopes of squeezing into any post-season discussions face a lot of obstacles. But if the Bucks can burst onto the scene (in spite of a TON of injuries as well) in 2009-10, then teams like Toronto can always hold out ‘hope’ if nothing else.
Things may have looked better for T.O. if they had landed this guy:
And/or this guy as well …
But such is life. Deals for Chandler and Barnes never materialized – for various reasons – and the Raptors will forge ahead under Jay Triano and company.
The near-daily blogs will return to this space (we kept it up pretty well during the off-season!) and I’ll do my best to keep all of you updated on the Raps throughout Camp, the pre-season and beyond!
Remember, tune in to www.fan590.com for the LIVE online show from Media Day on Monday afternoon.
Have a good one
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Tuesday September 21 2010 – 1:51pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Yes, I believe the results of the recent Qscores.com survey are skewed by racial undertones. How else can you explain why Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre aren’t in the Top 5, but Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are?
Favre and Big Ben have been the subject of ridicule, boredom, hatred, and disgust – off and on – from sports fans in the U.S. for more than a year now. Favre’s sins are nowhere near as bad as Roethlisberger’s but his ongoing saga is ‘hated’ indeed.
The Steelers QB appears 8th on the Most Hated list but has arguably (and allegedly (I guess)) done far worse than anyone on this list outside of Michael Vick. In fact, some would say Big Ben’s transgressions are indeed WORSE than Vick’s, but I digress.
Here’s the Top 5 (actually, 6) from that list … all African-American:
1. Michael Vick
2. Tiger Woods
3. Terrell Owens
4. Chad Ochocinco
5. Kobe Bryant
6. LeBron James
From a basketball-only perspective — not speaking racially — I’m a bit bewildered as to how James makes it onto this list if the survey was conducted, as we’re lead to believe, in March 2010. Based on this summer and how he departed Cleveland, I have no doubt that LeBron is ‘hated’ by many … but in March 2010? Hmmm.
And Kobe … well … I’m sure the events in Denver from a number of years ago I still fresh in many folks’ minds.
Owens and Ochocinco being included in this list — and appearing so high — is beyond me. ‘Disliked’ for their bravado and arrogance, sure. But HATED? C’mon.
How ’bout (as other sites have mentioned as well) guys like Rogers Clemens – who lied to U.S. Congress about his steroid use – or Kyle Busch – who was dropped by a sponsor because of his attitude and poor sportsmanship?
Many, including me, smell something fishy going on here and many of us have theorized that if this survey was conducted in primarily African-American homes or neighbourhoods the results may have been different.
However, to be fair, those theories may be countered by the following info …
My colleague, Lance Kennedy, contacted the folks at Qscores and they stated that their survey is “Totally representative of the U.S. population; 12% African American 88% non-African American.”
A quick Google search verifies those numbers (based on the U.S. population in 2008 (304.1 million people)):
White – 75%
Hispanic or Latino – 15.4%
Black or African American – 12.4%
Some other race – 4.9%
Asian – 4.4%
Two of more ethnic groups – 2.3%
American Indian or Alaska Native – 0.8%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander – 0.14%
That still doesn’t change the fact that this “Most Hated” list could be racially-skewed, but it does at least confirm that the survey appears to be reflective of the demographics and general make-up of the U.S.
For what it’s worth … based on all of the names I’ve talked about … without and judgement on race, this is what I believe the Top 6 *SHOULD* look like:
1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Michael Vick
3. Tiger Woods
4. LeBron James
5. Roger Clemens
6. Brett Favre
What do you think?
* Plus, for more on this … if you missed my chat with ESPN’s Scoop Jackson from earlier today, I encourage you to give it a listen: http://www.fan590.com/media.jsp?content=20100921_113835_7980
We diverted away from basketball – slightly – to talk about this issue. But it does involve NBA’ers … and race – or racism – is something that could always be touched on within basketball talks or life discussions in general!
Have a good one folks.
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Wednesday September 15 2010 – 10:40am Eastern – Toronto, ON
First of all … let me just say that I like Clinton Portis but his original comments were bone-headed at best and I’m glad he has issued an apology since then.
Now … that said …
I know Doug Smith already briefly hit on this in his blog today but I wanted to share a quick story about ‘women in the locker room’ … given that it’s the topic du jour these days (following the ‘incident’ involving Ines Sainz and the New York Jets.
This year marks my 13th season covering in the NBA and I can honestly say that the number of ‘stories’ I have to share about women in the locker room is minimal at best. In fact, I can think of just one:
About 10 years ago at the ACC … A member of the Raptors game-night staff was standing around in the locker room with the rest of the reporters … waiting to interview select members of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As forward Chris Gatling was removing his jersey and uniform and getting ready to head to the showers he looked in the direction of this staffer and said (I’m paraphrasing) something like ‘I saw you sneak a peak’.
The woman, clearly embarrassed and likely offended, tried to ignore Gatling and not address his comments at all. Gatling followed-up with (again, I’m paraphrasing) ‘You like what you see?’
Fortunately, for the game-night staff member, Gatling’s comments were caught on tape. In fact, I had them on my microphone specifically.
A complaint was filed with the Cavaliers and the NBA and Gatling was fined. Smitty remembers the fine being $10,000 but I thought it was $25,000. Nevertheless, Gatling paid for his insensitivity and immaturity and the woman was certainly vindicated.
But that run-in was an isolated incident as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure there are cat-calls here and there and comments behind the scene — just like in a bar or club … or on the street! But I can’t comment on what ‘might’ be happening; hearsay. I can only deal with what I have seen or heard with my own eyes/ears.
Most players know that the media – male or female – are professionals, and they have a job to do. The media respects the players’ ‘space’ in the locker room and the players generally respect the media as well.
In 12+ years I do not remember ONE time where anything inappropriate went on between a member of the Raptors and a female reporter.
Not unless we’re counting the F-bombs and tirades that Gary Trent would hurl at the Toronto media — but that was saved for men AND women! haha
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Wednesday September 8 2010 – 3:49pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate!
I’ll actually be celebrating / taking part in my first ‘new year’ dinner tonight (extended ‘family’) so I’m prepping for a 10 or 20 course meal right now!
But before the festivities begin, I thought it was about time that I checked-in with some Quick Hits …
1. No, my opinion of Leo Rautins and his gig with Canada Basketball has not changed. Too many people are over-reacting to what happened in Turkey and not looking at the big picture. Simply getting to the Worlds was a step ahead (ahead of schedule) for Canada. And with a core of young bodies ready to be sprinkled in to the Senior team in the coming years, the future is bright. Take a step back and breathe.
2. So David Blatt and Coack K are bickering over what went down between the USA and the USSR in 1972? Is the Cold War about to begin again? Come on Jay Triano … remind Blatt about how Canada laid a whoopin’ on the Russians in ’72 (in HOCKEY) as well! lol
3. It would be sad if this were the case … but I wonder if Blatt’s comments would prevent him from having an NBA owner or GM/President give him a shot at coaching in North American one day …?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about by the way … check out this link from the great Adrian Wojnarowski: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AjvHMmnU3fZtARRu02jP.4S8vLYF?slug=aw-russiaworlds090910
4. I drafted my Fan 590 Fantasy Football team last night (12th pick overall (out of 16)) and I’m cautiously optimistic about my chances this year:
QB – Brett Favre, Trent Edwards
WR – Reggie Wayne, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, Chris Chambers
RB – Rashard Mendenhall, Felix Jones, Laurence Maroney, Rashad Jennings
TE – Antonio Gates, Fred Davis
K – Garrett Hartley, Rian Lindell
DEF – Chicago Bears
5. Linas Kleiza has been carrying Lithuania at the Worlds. Hopefully he can ‘carry’ that play into the NBA season with the Raps as well. His performance for Toronto this season could easily be the wild-card / X-factor … especially if no other moves are made by Bryan Colangelo.
I’ll try to check in again with 5 more quick hits / random thoughts tomorrow or Friday.
Have a good one folks …
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Thursday September 2 2010 – 10:29am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Regardless of the outcome of today’s game against Spain (going on as I write this), Canada has already been eliminated from advancing in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
So what’s next for Leo Rautins’ crew … and their quest to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England?
(A) The 2011 FIBA Americas Championship … where the top 2 teams will secure spots in the Olympics
(B) The 2012 World Olympic Qualifying Tournament … where the top 3 teams will secure spots in the Olympics
So the ‘dream’ isn’t dead yet … but the 2016 Olympics in Rio are probably a more realistic goal. And you’d hope that the Canucks can apply some lessons learned in THIS tournament to games in the future.
This is a young team that should only get better, and additions like Matt Bonner, Jesse Young (injured this year), and Carl English (injured this year) should add some much-needed veteran leadership and offensive punch as well. Plus, the long-term future has a ton of bright, emerging stars as well … in players like Tristan Thompson, Myck Kabongo, and Cory Joseph.
And for those of you wanting to play the ‘blame game’ with Leo Rautins … I think you may need a reality check.
(1) Qualifying for this tournament was a HUGE step in the first place; many thought Canada had no shot at getting to Turkey.
(2) Further to the point above … Canada is one of only 6 countries in the WORLD to have all of their national teams qualify for their respective World Championships. The under-17 men’s and women’s teams and the Senior National teams for both the men and women join basketball powerhouses Australia, China, USA, Spain, and Argentina in sharing that honour.
(3) I know, I know … ‘close’ only counts in ‘horse-shoes and hand grenades’ … but Canada led after one, at the half, and after 3 against Lebanon (before losing) … led by 17 against #6 in the world, Lithuania; squandering the lead in the 4th but only losing by 2 … and took France (who beat #3 Spain) to the dying seconds. If you want to ‘blame’ Rautins for PART of the losses, that’s fine. A coach has to take SOME heat. But I put a lot more of the onus on the inexperience of the young Canadian team and the ‘talent level’ overall when compared with the majority of the opponents they’ve faced.
(4) Yet again I’ll say … ‘Further to the point above’ … How much better would Canada look — and how much better would Rautins look (to those critics out there) — if any 1 of the following were in the line up for the Canadian (or dare I say ALL of them):
Andy Rautins (who has missed the last 2 1/2 games)
Be realistic about what this team is and where this team is NOW and realize that the future is the goal and there are many building blocks in place that point to greater things to come.
For those wondering, L. Rautins currently has 1 year remaining on his contract with Canada Basketball.