Archive for December, 2005

Will Chris Bosh be seeing stars?

NBA aficionados often point out that playing for Toronto would be detrimental to a player’s career, and you know what? It’s true. The first round of ballots are in for the 2006 All Star Team, and Chris Bosh is 9th for East Forwards with a paltry 83,003 votes. Let me put this in persective for you, and keep in mind this is in a category of 10 forwards.

In points per-per-game, Bosh is tied for 3rd with Jermaine O’Neal. Only Paul Pierce and LeBron James average higher.

In rebounds, Bosh is 3rd behind Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Webber.

In blocks, Bosh is 3rd behind Jermaine O’Neal and Rasheed Wallace.

In free throw percentage, Bosh is 2nd behind Chris Webber.

All this from a kid who plays on the worst team in the league that also happens to be in a different country altogether. And it doesn’t help that American television networks air Raptors games as often as my dog cleans up after himself.

So if you haven’t already done so, please visit and vote this kid on the team. I’ll keep you updated on his progress as the balloting continues.

Discounted Raptors Tickets

If you’re free on the evening of December 28, 2005, why not catch a live game at the Air Canada Centre between the Raptors and the Hawks? The Raps are having a special promotion for that game.

For $36, you’ll get upper bowl side seats plus a Raptors toque (regular price is over $60). Order your tickets through and enter TOQUE as the promotional code. I’ve ordered 4 myself, so maybe I’ll see you at the game!

Do you believe in Magic?

What do you know. Taking their 4th win in the last 5 road games, the Raptors produce a little magic of their own and chalk up a victory down in Orlando. Well, heck… what did we do right?!? Quick, someone jot this down, photocopy it, and hand it out to the everyone on the team and their brothers! We’re on to something!

Chris Bosh taking charge. There was one thing I used to love about Vince that we lost when he left, and that was the ability to literally ‘turn it up’ at will. No one has been able to do that, save Jalen at the end of last year when he was putting 4th quarters in his pocket. However, Bosh is proving that he has the ability, and more importantly, the desire to do the very same thing. It’s what separates good players from superstars, and I can only pray that Chris takes a liking to his new mean streak. Be aggressive, demand the ball, take it strong to the rim. We can win games when we want.

Jalen Rose in the game when it counts. What have I been saying about playing Jalen in the crunch? Shooting slump or no shooting slump, he is a proven veteran. Aside from his horrible missed free throws in the dying seconds, Jalen did what he’s capable of doing with playing time. Will he embark on another tear like he last season? Probably not. But make no mistake, he’s still a crafty player that can knock down clutch shots.

Hoffa’s hustle. Did you see the fire in Hoffa’s eyes tonight? He was all over his matchups. I’ve never seen this side of Hoffa before. Aaaaaaaaaaand, *snaps fingers*, exit trance. Hoffa was abysmal as usual. On one particular play where Steve Francis blew by a bewildered Hoffa, Orlando’s radio play-by-play announcer Dennis Neumann, laughed and remarked, “Rafael looked like a statue in a Brazilian park. He just watched Steve Francis’ tail lights speed right by him.” At least someone is laughing.

Mo Pete’s circus longball. Face it, practically 8 out of 10 field goals Mo Pete puts up are circus shots, but miraculously, this one went in. I rank this 3rd behind the under-the-net 20 foot layup that went straight down, and the blindfolded headband basket. Still, you gotta feel nothing but love for everything holy in this life when he knocks down one of them. Hey, it’s about time a little luck went our way for a change.

And it’s worth mentioning that A. Will got some playing time and made great use of it. Good for him. He was on the bench so long, I started confusing him with the other A. Will. Wait a sec, who am I talking about again?

Next game is on Wednesday in Houston. Call me crazy, but I think we can take this one home too. Mike James will be playing his former team (the Rockets are still crying over the trade), the momentum will be on our side, and it’ll be a race to see who’s slower – Yao or Hoffa. My bet…. well, you know.

Another day in the office

Make it 20, folks. We’ve lost the same amount of games as Detroit, Milwaukee, and Indiana combined. Yes, I hung my head in shame too.

But boy, do the Raptors make it easy to write about them. I could essentially copy a post-game summary from virtually any previous game, add today’s date, and voila. I don’t think we could play defense even if we had Jose Calderon sit up on the rim – it’s THAT bad.

It was refreshing to see Eric Williams get a few minutes of playing time. Again, a player I think Sam Mitchell isn’t using enough. I’d also like to see more of Jalen Rose in the 4th quarter, because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the lineup we use at the end of the game is just not getting the job done. Matt Bonner, and God bless him for supporting public transit, shouldn’t be on the floor in the fourth. I have no clue what has happened to him this year, but he’s playing like he dances… horrendous. Sam Mitchell has to recognize this and make the adjustments he should have did a long time ago.

I’m happy to see Bosh and Villanueva develop consistency. What displeases me is how weak they go to the basket. Count how many times they’ll get stripped of the ball going to the rim per game – it’s unreal. They need to learn how to take it strong. Don’t just tip in missed shots. Go up aggressively and jack them down. Show your opponents that you can hurt them. Make them fear the poster shot.

Speaking of Charlie V., I truly feel that if this kid put it the effort, he could be so much better than Bosh. He’s bigger and stronger, can drain the 3, and is tougher at rebounding. All he needs is that hunger to dominate.

And can someone tell me when Hoffa will finally understand simple NBA rules? This isn’t the Brass Rail, you can’t put your hands on other people.

Should have watched the election debate instead

It can’t get any worse.

The Raptors had more defensive breakdowns than a dollar-store bicycle lock tonight. You’d think that after the exact same thing happened in the Chicago game, the team would be able to make some sense out of the game tape and stick to their defensive assignments tonight.


Instead, Golden State trounces the Raps by 10 points and in case you cared about these things, set an NBA season high with 17 long balls. That’s right, seventeen. If there was any defense in the house tonight, it was guarding the Gatorade jug.

And as terrible as our defence is, we can’t overlook our horrible play on the other end of the court. At times, our offense looked like a pack of sperm trying to penetrate an iron egg. We’re still unable to set plays, run screens, and most importantly, pass the ball before the defender gets to our man. I honestly think my breathing slows down when I watch us on offense because our passes are so late. If I wanted to watch slow motion sports, I’d watch Hoffa on speed.

At any rate, what we need now is a major roster shakedown. There’s no point starting Hoffa if he’s not contributing in any category besides fouls. As much as I have no faith in Loren Woods, it really looks like now would be the best time just to let him start. At the very least, he can put his hands up and make the net disappear.

There’s no way we can expect to win any games without an inside presence. Adam had more inside presence after he was kicked out of Eden. We need to put Loren Woods back in there. I’d also like to see more Aaron Williams, more Eric Williams, and more Jalen Rose. The rookies have had their ample opportunity to show their stuff and it’s just not working right now. So as much as it pains me to say this, I think it’s time we threw our veterans in. Shake things up, Sam.

Bring out that belt strap

If you haven’t already done so, please sign up for the message forum. I’d love to have some other Raptors fans who would be interested in discussing the team on a regular basis.

And now, my thoughts pertaining to yesterday’s game.

Boy, do the Raptors have a knack of giving your knuckles a workout. Some of you may have been holding on to your seats during the first half in jubilation, others shaking your tightly-clenched fist in the dying minutes of the game. At any rate, the Raps lose again and here we are picking up the pieces.

Sam absolutely did the right thing by airing the team out. It’s called passion, and right now the team needs to find some way of making defensive stops. The Raptor’s defense is as sturdy as a wall of butter. And I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been on Sam’s case all season about not being able to draw up plays in crunch time, not being able to develop team chemistry, and not being able to use his players to the best of their abilities. But it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is at this point. We’re 4 and 18 and putting games together like we’re assembling jigsaw puzzles on a rodeo horse.

The fact is that in order to have drastic change, you need to take drastic actions. I’m beginning to think that the players have settled for mediocrity, because EVERYONE has an excuse to fall back on. Oh, they’re young and inexperienced. Oh, he’s on the cusp of becoming a superstar. Oh, he’s in a shooting slump. Oh, he’s Hoffa.

You’re never going to improve as a team if you fall back on your excuses. I’d love to have Charles Oakley back in any capacity, even if it meant that he just stood by the showers with a twisted-up wet towel waiting for a target. Someone needs to create a sense of urgency.

This organization’s greatest achievement since the start of this century has been creating a losing environment around the club. Everyone is used to losing, so apparently it’s okay. Well, I’m glad Sam ripped one into the team. It’s called tough love. And when the going gets tough, the tough rebound.

The 15th of the 12th.

December 15th is upon us, and that means that under the CBA, teams can trade players they signed as free agents last off-season. The Raptors have 3 players eligible; Jose Calderon, Matt Bonner, and Pape Sow. Babcock hasn’t denied being on the phone entertaining proposals from other clubs.

If a trade does go down, consider any one of the following players as trade bait:

Matt Bonner – manageable contract
Pape Sow – great player value because he’s tearing up the D League
Eric Williams – a defensive vet with a solid NBA reputation, known to be a coach’s delight
Morris Peterson – are there any trade rumors that don’t mention his name?
Jalen Rose – the miracle trade everyone is still waiting to happen

I know there’s been speculation that the Raptors could acquire Artest, but if Rafer was considered a cancer to the team, then expect Artest to be crib death. Keep the rookies away from him!

I can’t see any moves happening, but we’ll see what unfolds this week.

Sick, Wicked, and Lazy

It’s clear the Raptors get less attention in this city than a dime on an arcade floor. You’d think that as a team that shares a playing facility with the Maple Leafs *insert Angelic music* , they’d get more exposure above and beyond the Raptors flag flying out front. Rodney was right, we don’t get no respect.

What befuddles me the most is that Chuck Swirsky, the voice of the Toronto Raptors, refuses to use his resources to attract more fans to the team. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Swirsk and his passion for basketball and the Raps. But I’m disheartened that he no longer chooses to push basketball to the forefront of his radio show that airs every day from 1-4pm on The FAN. In fact, he now spends the majority of his air time talking about the Leafs, the Jays, and anything else to get away from the Raptors.

I’m sure he has his reasons. I’d be pretty sick and tired of basketball fans who ask how many periods are in a basketball game, or wonder why we can’t trade Hoffa for Ron Artest. But when you’re essentially the ambassador of the team, you gotta play your role.

Chuck has admitted that there have been times when fans approach him on the subway and want to talk Raptors ball, he’ll start thinking to himself, “Oh no, here we go again.” If a Jays fan met Tom Cheek in a lineup at Tim Horton’s and wanted to talk Blue Jays baseball, do you think that Tom would be rolling his eyes thinking, “Not another one!”

The only way to get more seats filled for Raptors games is to trumpet the team. God knows Sportsnet’s 40 minute Leafs coverage and 40 second Raps highlights won’t be doing much for the team. It’s imperative that The Swirsk be spending more air time talking Raptors, talking NBA, and pounding it in our ears. If no one calls in, then heat the mic. Talk 4 hours of ball if you have to, but just do it. Educate our fans if they’re clueless. Talk about the NBA’s most misunderstood rules, explain on-court strategies, and have in-depth stories about our players.

If Toronto wants to become a vibrant and prosperous NBA city, it’s going to have to invest more marketing bucks and promote the team like it did when the franchise first came to town. Vince Carter’s departure didn’t signify the beginning of the end. It was a hard lesson we needed to learn to become NBA smart, and if Chuck ever wanted a better time to start fresh and seduce a new batch of Raptors die-hards, now would be the time.

Captain Crunch to Captain Slump

Can you smell what Jalen is cooking?

Even though the site isn’t close to completion, I wanted to take some time to talk about Jalen Rose.

It’s common practice in Toronto to have at least one player on a sports team to dump on. The fans need a scapegoat, and although it can be argued that Hoffa is the recognized Raptor we love to hate, I’d like to make a case for Jalen bearing the brunt end of the complaints.

Jack Armstrong constantly reminds us that it wasn’t Hoffa’s fault that he was drafted 8th. Well, it’s not Jalen’s fault someone decided to pay him 16 million a season. At the twilight of last season when in his glorious cape, he was single-handedly winning games for the team, everyone dropped the trade talk. Now that he’s not only out of the starting rotation but has seen a significant drop in his minutes, everyone’s on his case again.

“The youth movement,” they cry! “Let’s give the rookies a chance to play!”

The Raptors are 4 and 17. Don’t get me wrong – I have no illusions about the team’s playoff chances, despite the fact that the Titanic Division is so embarassing that we’re only 6 games out of first. But if by some miracle the Raptors go on a few hot streaks and make a run for an 8th spot, who do you think will become the most valuable player to us come playoff time?

It’s still early, but a young team like the Clippers are making a serious push. They’d have no second thoughts about taking a contract like Jalen’s to put them over the edge for the post-season. He’s a proven veteran, and a considerable asset down the stretch.

Some feel like Jalen doesn’t fit in our new system. I’d like to ask, “What system?” He’s not the only one who looks lost out there. If you’re not going to run any plays for him in the clutch, then he essentially becomes ineffective. You can argue all you like that Bosh should be the go-to guy, but until the team actually learns to set final plays for any go-to guy, I’ll stick by my argument.

Jalen’s the first one to take responsibility for his poor performance. He puts the extra time in at practice to work on his shot. Don’t think for a second that he doesn’t care, because he’s played on winning teams and believe me, there’s nothing that gnaws at a winner more than losing all the time.

Would I trade Jalen if a great deal came up? Absolutely.

But until then, give the man a chance to play. 10 minutes a game isn’t enough for him to even get his mouthguard wet.

The birth.

I’ve finally been able to settle on a suitable domain name for a Raptors fan site. Not that there is much to celebrate about this season, but give credit to the Raps for putting a decent night’s effort into every game.

The agenda for now is to get this site up and running. Here’s hoping this first step will be the start of something wonderful.