Archive for December, 2005

Raptors win final game of the year

Count it as a win, and a steal.

Canseco Fieldhouse cleared out faster than momma’s Christmas turkey tonight when the Raptors stormed back from a 16 point deficit to win over Indiana, 99-97. What was most surprising wasn’t the surge to get back into the game. Toronto has always been able to fight back from large point debts. What was most unexpected was how the Raptors controlled the last minute and nursed their crucial lead.

Mike James finished with a double-double, but I still think this guy takes way too many questionable shots. It’s like he’s got a bad case of Alstonitis. Chris Bosh looked practically uninterested in the last quarter and couldn’t find the will to either set good screens or get open for passes.

I am convinced that this win came about due in small part to the injuries to Jose Calderon and Joey Graham. When you’ve got solid veterans playing in the place of rookies only 30 games old, your chances of winning are undoubtedly better.

The Atlanta Hawks again lost tonight, and you know what that means. If even for a brief fleeting moment in time, the Raptors are no longer the worst team in the league. And if the Knicks lose against the Jazz tonight, Toronto can dust it’s shoes off because we move ahead of New York in the division. Thanks for the hard work, Isiah.

So for you Raptors fans who have found my humble dwelling here on, remember to bring in the New Year with great cheer. The Raptors went .500 in the month of December, the beers are chilling in the fridge, and 2006 is tugging at your pants.

Have a great one.


Jalen Rose, the philanthropist

This is courtesy of an article a few days ago by USA Today. The article can be found here.

Jalen Rose of the Toronto Raptors is the only athlete listed among Black Enterprise magazine’s top 15 black philanthropists. His charitable efforts include five annual $10,000 college scholarships to seniors in Detroit’s public school system. Rose, who has 15 students in college at his expense, talked with USA TODAY NBA reporter Roscoe Nance about the 5-year-old program, which is funded through the Jalen Rose Foundation.

Q. How did you come up with the idea?

A. Just following Magic Johnson. He was the one guy who, as a philanthropist and an athlete, always did something above and beyond what everybody else was doing. It’s good to have basketball camps and do all of that kind of stuff. But you really have an impact on society when you help kids go to school. I played in his all-star game a couple of years and just hearing the number of kids he’s helping go to school really touched me.

Q. How have the kids responded?

A. They’re really excited about it. They appreciate the care and concern. There are a lot of kids out there going through hardships that are still trying to do the right thing. Some kids grow up in poverty. Some kids grow up in parentless homes. Some kids have to take care of their little brothers and sisters because their parents are on drugs. Some kids have to work two and three jobs. Yet they find a way to go to school every day and make good grades.

Q. Do you personally review the applications?

A. We get so many applicants … 500 to 1,000. I don’t literally read each and every one, but I do read 75% of them. The reason I do that is because I want to carefully select legitimate winners.

Q. And you follow the recipients through college?

A. I stay in contact with them. They e-mail when things are going good and when things are going bad. They follow me as a player, but they are also proud to be a Jalen Rose scholarship recipient. They take pride in it, and I take pride in it.

Q. What motivates you to do more than simply write a check?

A. The one thing I’ve learned about philanthropy is that it comes from the heart. It’s not necessarily doing what the next man does. It’s creating your own path to do what you can to give back.

Q. The recipients can go to any college?

A. Some want to go to schools down South. Some want to go to school right there in Michigan. I don’t try to pick and choose where they go. On the application, they tell me where they’re planning on going and where their college experience will take them. I just try to help them get there.

Thanks for being a classy guy, Jalen.

Is Jalen going to Hollywood?

Reports indicate that Toronto could possibly be involved in a 3 team deal that would see Ron Artest going to the Los Angeles Lakers for Devean George. In order to make this deal financially feasible, Toronto would send Jalen Rose to Los Angeles, and receive Austin Croshere and perhaps another player from the Lakers. The numbers would be complicated, but Toronto might have to send a draft pick to Indiana to balance things out as well.

So there it is. Enjoy your coffee.

Home is TWO sweet

When you go from playing the best team in the league on the road to playing the worst team at home, the results have to be dramatically different. In a matchup similar to a slapping battle between Napoleon and Kip Dynamite, the Raptors managed to hold off the Atlanta Hawks to notch their 2nd road win of the season with a 108-102 score.

I’m still concerned with our defence, which at times looked either lost or disinterested. Opposing teams are finding ways of exposing our defence to execute the same play time after time. It’s like we’re playing with short term memory loss with the way opponents are feasting off one particular play.

Count this victory as a lucky break. Our best player didn’t have a great night, and the two highest scorers, Morris Peterson and Mike James, happen to be the players that make you the most nervous everytime they drive to the basket. But give them credit – they knocked down a smorgasbord of shots tonight. And in other news, Hoffa was so terrible, Sam Mitchell didn’t even keep him in long enough to foul out.

But a win is a win, and the fat lady sang. Kudos to Mo Pete for his ironman effort in consecutive NBA games.

We got Pist-on

Have you ever played those games at the carnivals where you get 6 balls and the objective is to roll them into slots, tally up your score, and see if it’s either above or below a certain number? I usually roll my first 3 balls, realize that it’s mathematically impossible for me to win any prize, and then tank my last shots.

Watching the Raptors play basketball tonight gave me flashbacks of hot candy apples and scary looking carnival operators. Despite the fact that Toronto only lost by 7 points, the game itself was far uglier.

Aside from the stellar effort Chris Bosh had piggybacking the team, the Raptors were nothing short of abysmal. The entire team stood around watching balls like 5 dudes on a deserted nudist beach. And if there was any defence played tonight, it was Alvin Williams guarding his right knee.

It’s quite alarming when the tv broadcasters are calling plays moments before the opponents are setting themselves, and we have 5 coaches who couldn’t spot a play if they had front row seats to Phantom Of The Opera.

But all is not lost on me. We faced off against the best team in the league – not a walk in the park by any standards. But good golly, where is the effort? The only guy pouring his heart into the game is the one we’re supposed to be trying to entice to stay. How’s that working for you?

Toronto swings back into town for a game tomorrow night against the Atlanta Hawks. I was going to preface that with ‘lowly’ and then took a look at the standings and decided against it. The Hawks game should be entertaining, and expect Toronto to notch their second home win this season. I’ll be there in my new Raptors toque, with my clipboard counting down Hoffa’s personal fouls, and having a blast.

How loving the Raptors can win you a big TV.

Mark January 8th down on your calendar, folks. Sometime in the middle of December, Vince Carter took some crazy pills and has been on a Vinsanity Tour the last 5 games notching bigtime numbers. Will he continue his tear when the New Jersey Nets land in town that day for a game?

The Toronto Raptors are having a contest. If you purchase tickets online for that game, be sure to use ALVINW as the promotional code. You’ll automatically be entered to win a 40′ Sony Bravia TV. You can click this link if you want to go straight there. Good luck to anyone who enters!

Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a win

Count me in as one of the fans who were caught up in the moment. You win 5 of your last 6 road games and everything suddenly seems possible. But then you take the red pill, and you wake up realizing that the Raptors lost a game they had no business winning in the first place. Sure, it came down to the wire – down to a missed layup by Mike James that could’ve changed the complexion of the game. But good teams and great teams are separated by that indiscernible element, and the better team always dominates the final plays of the game.

Jalen Rose looked like he stepped out of a time machine from 12 months ago and played hard. I imagine this is all leading to the cusp of an imminent trade, and I can only hope that if Jalen Rose is indeed dealt to New York for Penny Hardaway, he climbs onboard that plane alone. I am not a proponent of throwing in a draft pick to make this deal more attractive to the Knicks.

Is it a coincidence that Chris Bosh has an off night and the Raptors lose? Make no mistake – San Antonio is a beast of a team and despite the fact that they were horrendous from the charity stripe and the arch, we probably wouldn’t have won the game anyways. But Chris Bosh is the number one scoring option. It boggles my mind why he wasn’t getting more touches in the 4th to pull us back in.

I’ll keep saying it until it becomes second nature to the team: Go inside to Bosh. Go inside to Bosh. Go where? Inside to Bosh.

It’s nice to see that Bonner hitched a ride on that time machine with Jalen. Now if only we could borrow the machine, go back 20 years to San Paulo, and give Hoffa a tuba instead of a basketball. Bonner’s starting to look comfortable with his jumpshot, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, he’s also getting comfortable dribble-driving to the net, which is a bad, bad thing. He dribbles the basketball to a tempo slow enough for me to play Three Blind Mice to.

It was a great game, nonetheless. The effort was there, and we caught a bad break at the end. We should take a loss in Detroit on the 27th, and then win our second home game the following night with Atlanta. Remember, the TOQUE promotion is still on for that game, so grab your tickets if you haven’t already done so.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Jalen Rose – A rolling stone

Meet any Raptors fan and engage in a discussion about the team, and undoubtedly two questions will arise.

1. Will Chris Bosh re-sign with the Raptors?

2. Can Jalen Rose’s contract be moved?

It’s still a little premature distressing over the first question because the Raps have Bosh locked down for another year and a half. I say we focus on issues at hand, and cross that bridge when we get there.

But I wanted to talk about Jalen a bit more, because whether you like it or not, we’re paying him $177,000 a game to showcase his mouthguard in his headband. As much as I love Jalen Rose as a player, carrying his contract on our books is like driving with the parking brake on.

Are we paying him too much? $16.9 million next season to bob his head to be precise, and I don’t even see him bob his head anymore.

Can his contract be traded? Absolutely.

It’s been reported that there are a couple of teams interested in acquiring Jalen, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers. Expect a first-rounder to be packaged with trade offers. And I’ve said this before – come playoff time when teams are making that final push, having Jalen Rose on your team suddenly becomes an attractive opportunity.

Fans have been cautious this year about knocking Jalen Rose as a player? Why? He’s been the exemplary professional. As my friend Jay pointed during the Houston game, there is not one NBA player who could’ve handled his situation better. It’s tough sitting in the doghouse while rookies log your playing time. It’s tough answering the same questions for the thousandth time in front of the Toronto media. And it’s tough playing for the worst team in the league in the twilight of your career. But give Jalen credit, because he bears it and grins.

In a recent article in the New York Post by Peter Vecsey, Jalen gives his thoughts on the season in an email:

“I promised myself early this yr dat I was gonna be a total PRO and let the chips fall where they may . . . by not taking this TOR situation PERSONAL . . . I feel something will happen soon . . . then bk 2 the States . . . talk 2 ya soon.”

Babcock was able to move Rafer Alston’s contract, proving that he might actually have the capability to pull off another miracle with Jalen. Until then, I’ll leave you with a final thought about Jalen’s playing time. If you want a rose to bloom, you have to water it first. We need to give him more playing time. Joey Graham will get his opportunities for years to come, and if we want to have a better chance at moving Jalen, we have to let him play his value up.

Matt Bonner wins a slam dunk contest

In case you didn’t know, Matt Bonner entered slam dunk contests in both college and high school. Here is a short video clip of Matt winning the slam dunk contest at Concord High School.

One thing you’ll never see Matt win? A dance-off.

Matt Bonner wins slam dunk contest

Click here: Matt Bonner scores 50 on the final dunk.

Houston dressed to the 9’s.

Someone better start ordering the confetti, because the Raptors have won 5 of their last 6 road games. In an otherwise boring game, the Raps abused the Rockets 94-81 for a predictable victory. Just keep in mind that Houston could fit all the players they dressed tonight into an elevator, all 9 of them – the Rockets were that injury-plagued. Most notably, Yao sat out after having surgery on his big toe. That still didn’t prevent him from being more effective in this game than Hoffa.

Bosh should’ve had more touches, more free throw attempts, and more points this game. Stromile Swift started at center, with Mutombo out with a finger injury. All we needed is someone with a great singing voice, and we could have threw together a lively rendition of “This Little Piggy” with Yao and Dikembe. But with Houston’s lack of height and rebounding, Bosh should’ve taken over this game. There is no excuse for not posting at least a double-double.

Tracy McGrady played like Vince Carter Version 2004, Stromile Swift got kicked in his package, and Moochie Norris almost joined Rafer dressed up as Death himself. This will be a game Houston will soon want to forget (along with the Alston-James trade).

I’m interested in seeing how Gene Keady’s experience will contribute to our playmaking. I’m still disappointed with Sam Mitchell’s ability to draw up plays and execute them. I still can’t remember the last time we actually ran a play from the whistle and got a basket. Even Mo Pete’s 3-pointer last game wasn’t intended for him, so it’s of paramount importance that we practice plays until they become second nature, and learn to dictate the game in clutch situations.

We’ll certainly need it in San Antonio.