Archive for February, 2007

Hardaway

Well, it isn’t directly related to the Raptors, but it requires comment, so here goes.

By now, we have all heard Tim Hardaway’s anti-gay comments. I think we can all agree that Hardaway is an idiot. Any respect I used to have for him because he was a good player, managed to drop baskets with one of the ugliest knuckle-ball shots ever and had Pearl Jam’s album “Ten” named for him (they’re huge basketball fans), is gone. No respect for Hardaway.

As ugly as his comments were (and really, do we need to discuss that?), there’s another thing that I am sick of with people in the media spotlight. People who run their mouths off and then after their publicist gets a hold of them, they immediately apologize and say they didn’t mean it. It’s not the apology I disagree with, it’s suddenly trying to back away from the comment.

Today, Hardaway AGAIN apologized for his comments, but this time, he said that when he said that he hates gays, that wasn’t what he meant to say. Now he says he’s a loving person, that he interacts with all people. Bullshit. Oh, you didn’t mean to say hate? How about when you were asked at the end of the interview if you understood that this meant you were homophobic? When you replied that you were and that you didn’t want gays in America or the rest of the world, did you not mean that too?

All we need to cap off this farce is to hear that Hardaway is going to go into counselling or sensitivity training. That’ll make everything okay, right? Right? To paraphrase KG, T-Mac and whoever else is in those Adidas commercials, you won’t be fooled, will you?

First Half Highs and Lows

Well, at the unofficial halway point of the season, it seems only natural to take a look at some of the good and bad associated with the Raptors this season. So let’s get right into it.

    Good

Jose Calderon - No doubt about it, the dude had some sort of transformation over the summer and all of a sudden bought into what everybody was telling him, that he has loads of talent and just has to believe in himself. Jose has done a great job managing the team when he has been on the court and has made very few mistakes with the ball. His outside shooting has picked up of late, making him that much more difficult to guard and he is still surprising defenders (how, we’ll never know…every NBA team should be reading RaptorsForum to get the dirt…slackers) with that quick first step.

TJ Ford - There were a lot of questions when the Raptors traded big for small…(coming-off-injury-small), but TJ has answered the call. He has been able to push the ball upcourt and has been good at distributing the ball. Extra credit goes to him for handling the situation with Calderon well (good on Calderon too), pushing for Calderon to start when he wasn’t fully recovered from his ankle injury. Nobody at the start of the season would have said he was this much of a professional.

Chris Bosh - I think a lot of Bosh’ s success this year has to do with the fact that he is actually surrounded with some guys who can play. It’s that much easier when you don’t have to carry the team every night or fight to get a pass from your point guard (can Lang and I get some respect on saying that signing Mike James would have been the WRONG thing to do? Hey Audley, tell your buddies at the ACC how much of an idiot you were to us that night at the game you “treated” us to…we were right, you weren’t, that’s it, that’s all). Bosh has started playing with more power, going right at people and it is starting to pay off.

Andrea Bargnani - The kid’s living up to being the number one pick. He still needs to get a little tougher and establish some sort of low post move (the dude looks like a virgin in a whorehouse in the low post…head turning everywhere and hands all fidgety), but that will come in time. Has a natural stroke (let’s get away from that virgin metaphor), but I would like to see him put the ball on the floor a little bit less.

AP - I don’t know at what point, but at some point in the season, AP decided he was just going to dunk on people. His outside shooting is lethal and when you know there’s a chance he will put it on the floor and crown you, that’s a good combo. Plays solid D too, not much more you could ask for.

    Bad

Joey Graham - If I were a chick and was dating Joey Graham, I’d be terrified. Which Joey is going to show up tonight? The one with the nice moves or the one who could possibly kill the whole night…or me? Inconsistent. Doesn’t use his size…I don’t think he’s going to get much better than this…

Uros Slokar - Given, he hasn’t had much playing time, but there’s a reason for that. And is it just me or does this guy look like the dude in high school who used to bring baloney and cheese EVERY DAY for lunch? Can somebody please direct him to a tanning salon, should start calling him Powder.

There are a lot of things that could go in the middle, but what’s the fun in writing about that? Maybe next time, but let’s take stock in the fact that for once, there are more goods than bads to talk about.

Statuesque

Vince Carter was around for the unveiling of a statue of him at the Vince Carter Athletic Centre (or something like that) in Florida. He dropped over $2.5 mil on it, but apparently, his mom did most of the work (wow, does this dude still breastfeed or what?).

Anyway, here’s Vince with the statue…I’ll tell you what, put either Vince or the statue on the court and you pretty much have the same amount of D.

BOOYA!

Possible Vince Chant?

One of the Raptor Forum readers was trying to work up a chant for Vince the other day. Something we could sing or shout whenever Vince comes to town. While providing a good effort, we think his song was a little too “soccerish” for us, a bit too long.

So I’m thinking…how about:

Where’s your mom-ma?

It’ll hurt, dude’s sensitive about his mom. Just a thought.

A New Jersey Net’s fan finally see’s the light

I couldn’t resist.

This was taken from a frustrated New Jersey Net’s fan from nj.com. Here is the original post.

This VC thing that’s been going back and forth has almost become comical by this point but I really have to ask…seriously:

How does anyone see this guy being a good fit for this or ANY team?

Because when I’m watching him night after night, I see one of the most detrimental-to-a-team-concept players that I’ve ever followed in any sport. He’s selfish, lazy, his body language and on the court demeanor is everything that coaches teach kids not to be. The hell with the talent, with Vince it’s wasted talent because he will never help you win anything.

I don’t understand how those who defend him don’t see this? So I’ll ask these people: How can you not see this?”

For these last few years I always thought the Toronto fans were being a bit ridiculous with all of their signs and booing but now, man, I completely get it. He single handedly can just “suck the team” right out of your team. I feel like my own passion for a Nets style of basketball is being vindicated by knowing that others understand.

That second quarter was so great to watch; the pure flow of the game with all players contributing. And then Vince comes in and it’s all about him, slowing up the game and acting as if he was playing in some Upper East Side school yard. Ian is saying it, Spanarkle is saying it…every night on the radio Carino is saying it…the flow of the Nets is better without Vince.

So what is it?Why and how has he helped? Why and how is this team or any team better off with Vince than without him. And forget who else is there or isn’t there…since Vince has become our featured offensive weapon who not only doesn’t really play defense but also laughs it up while someone like Mo Peterson is beating him off the dribble…are we not a significantly worse team?

Take him away and replace him with a role player and it’s a team again.

Right now I’d take any single one of the players we traded for him back, straight up. A- Train for VC. Let’s go.Eric Williams for VC. In a heartbeat. A second round pick for VC. Why not? Better than having him.

Vince Carter thinks Bosh is NO MVP

What makes Toronto’s win over the New Jersey Nets so satisfying can be tagged to a bevy of reasons, but I’ll humor you and talk about Vince Carter for a bit first. If you’re still a Vince fan, or you’re more mature than me and have gotten past his abandonment of this franchise, please skip to the next section of this post.

Aside from the fact that Vince Carter showed absolutely no heart or desire to drive to the basket tonight, it’s clear that he’s still as unclassy as he’s always been since he left town. I may not completely agree with Chuck and Leo ripping him all game, but when the crowd is chanting “MVP, MVP!” to the franchise player that has carried this team to the top of the division, don’t denounce him on national TV.

Here’s a video clip of Vince Quitter (possibly the best Raptors jersey I’ve ever seen in the history of this organization - you had to watch the game on The Score to have caught this one) mocking Chris Bosh’s MVP chants.

If you’re going to mail it in, fine. But don’t discredit another player’s achievements out of spite.

New Jersey never threatened to make the game interesting. Aside from some hot perimeter shooting by Bostjan Nachbar and Eddie House, the Raptors dominated through balanced shooting and some nifty plays. I’d love to see Andrea Bargnani work on his horrible drives, despite Sam Mitchell’s obvious disdain. Most of his dunks have been with sheer force, and he’d be smart to incorporate some low post moves into his game.

On a final note, did anyone spot Joey “Sasquatch” Graham tonight? I could’ve sworn he was in the ACC.

The Raptors go from the Bulls to more bull

Okay, it’s time to push your heart back into your chest.

The Toronto Raptors edged the Chicago Bulls in the harrowing final seconds of Tuesday’s game to lift the Chicago Curse of 2002 and send the Raptors three and a half games ahead of the played out New Jersey Nets for the Atlantic Division lead. Speaking of the Nets, Vince Carter acted like a man on Friday and discounted Toronto’s success. Here is an excerpt from that article:

Vince Carter can read like you can read, and he can tell which way the winds of momentum are blowing.

For five days now, he’s heard all about his pals from the Great White North — heard it from their own mouths — that the Toronto Raptors are not coming back to the pack anymore. He heard all about how they huddled around the TV Sunday, shortly after their rout of the Clippers, to cheer Atlanta’s victory over the Nets. He could envision his friends, such as Chris Bosh and Mo Peterson, leading the high-five parade all around the Air Canada Centre locker room that he once ruled.

He knows about their four-game winning streak, knows they’ve won 13 out of 17, knows that there is something magical about them right now.

And let him be the first to say it: Let them have their fun — for now.

“I heard about the celebration, and that’s okay,” Carter said, as matter-of-factly as possible. “They’re playing well right now, and they just might get better.

“But I’m telling you, there’s still a lot of season left. I believe in our team, regardless of how we’ve played lately. We might not look like we have the confidence they have collectively, but I’ll tell you, I still have confidence in us. And people better know that I’m going to go down fighting — until the last day, until they say, ‘You’re not in it anymore.’ I’m going to fight until the last day, and so with the rest of the guys in here. I believe in every one of them, and I believe in our coaching staff. I believe we’re going to be the ones (winning the division) in the end.”

Are you kidding me?

In the spirit of tomorrow’s upcoming game against the New Jersey Nets, please allow me to remind you what happens when Vince Carter promises to be a man.

Let’s fully expect Vince to come out hard against Toronto in the first quarter, step on Jorge’s foot and go down in a heap, talk to the floor for 10 minutes, get carried off the court like Wesley from the Pit Of Despair in The Princess Bride, re-enter the game and settle for jump shots the rest of the way, finish the game with 12 points and 5 boards, and then snap at reporters at the end.

Go Raptors.

Chicago Preview

There’s no point going on about the 15 in a row thing, it doesn’t matter, it’s still another game you have to play. As soon as a team starts even talking about that, they’re not focused. So it has been good that none of the Raptors have been paying it any mention.

A big plus for the Raptors tonight, Nocioni won’t be in the Bulls lineup and that’s good, because he’s a guy who is tough, can play some D and can actually shoot. But while that is a bonus for the Raptors, the key is shutting down Luol Deng. Deng is athletic and has a nice touch inside, so while you are going to see a few different people on him tonight, once again, look for MoPete down the stretch to be put on him. Could be an interesting matchup, especially since Deng almost averaged 22 points on the Bulls recent 7 game road trip.

Ben Wallace is doing what he does, but not as effectively as in previous seasons with the Pistons. Could it be that people have either underestimated how good of a team the Pistons were in past years or is it that they overvalued Wallace? Let’s be honest, his offence is almost non-existent. It’s no secret about his D, but if you watch lately, he’s getting beaten off the dribble a few times a game. The rebounding is still sick.

Coming off a 3-4 road trip, the Bulls will be looking to get things off to a good start at home, but with all the talk of the trade deadline, Pau Gasol and how they need a big man, maybe the Raps can catch them a bit distracted. The Raptors can also benefit by jumping on Bulls turnovers, as they have been handing the ball over like it was hot. I don’t know why there is so much talk of Gasol going there anyway, it seems like Memphis is asking for way too much (Deng, Nocioni, and a first round pick? WHAT? No, seriously, WHAT?). There is also talk of the Bulls having to part ways with Ben Gordon and personally, I think they’d be absolutely stupid to pass him over to Memphis is any package for Gasol.

Anyway, enjoy the supposed snowstorm we’re going to get tonight, nice weather to chill with a beer, bowl of chili and the Raptors.

Just like we thought…

Well, can’t say we didn’t see it coming. The Raps should have been able to hold off the Lakers and they were able to. To be honest, the first half was about as boring a half of basketball you are going to see this year. The second half was much more entertaining with MoPete playing well down the stretch again. Can we say it one more time? It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s who finishes. MoPete is starting to look like a real 6-man, which is actually a quality, being able to suck it up and come off the bench like a starter.

So on to Detroit. Guys, it’s not so much that the Raptors were going into the tail end of a back to back, the Pistons are a good team. A solid team. And the addition of Chris Webber shouldn’t be underestimated. Everybody thought Chris was done. He’s showing that he still has a lot of gas in the tank. Sure, the Pistons gave up a lot of D when Ben walked, but picking up C-Webb has more than made up for it with offense. Chris may not light it up every night, but he has given the Pistons a good flow and I don’t know how many big men there are in the NBA who can pass better than him. Watch Webber when he gets the ball. He doesn’t rush, he holds on and sees the court opening up. Detroit is going to be tough down the stretch.

Tough to figure what is going to happen against the Bulls. We all know the history there and the Raptors have to get past that mental block. It will be key to get out to a good start. Can’t make a prediction on this one, but they should be able to keep it close and down the stretch, make a push for the win.

No Chuck, Chris Bosh is A MAN.

There comes a point in every young man’s life where he is faced with a challenge, whether it be mental, physical or both. Last night may have been that moment for Chris Bosh. Sure, Bosh has had a lot of adversity to fight through and has had to carry the Raptors at a very young age, but now that he has a supporting cast, he hasn’t had to handle the whole load. So when last night pitted him against Dwight Howard, Bosh showed Swirsky and everybody in the NBA that he is A MAN too.

You have to give Darko a break, he honestly didn’t play Bosh that poorly at the start of the game, but as things wore on, Darko just couldn’t keep up. He’s lucky basketball is played inside (well, yes, especially in Canada), because if this was a summer league, he would have sucked in more flies than he cared to eat. Darko was pulling so hard on the bottoms of his shorts every time the whistle blew, I thought we were all going to be witnesses to something none of us wanted to see. Even when Howard came over to help, Bosh was able to use his teammates or simply drive hard to the net looking for a dunk (is Bosh reading RaptorsForum?), which resulted in 17 trips to the free throw line (he must be reading RaptorsForum). Bosh was able to hit on 15 of 17 from the line, showing that in big games, the free throws are important (he’s definitely reading RaptorsForum).

What also shouldn’t be lost in last night’s game is how the Raptors are truly blessed with their PG situation. Both Ford and Calderon had 10 points and 11 assists, showing how the Raptors are essentially able to have a starting PG on the floor for the whole game. At some point, Ford has to work on his turnovers, he turned it over 4 times last night in 26 minutes, but he was also able to grab 4 steals. Jose turned it over twice with no steals, but the point is that if you’re turning the ball over 4 times in 26 minutes, you have to concentrate on taking care of your luggage. Those are the kinds of errors that can destroy winning streaks.

What is going on with Joey Graham? Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot…and FRIGID. In almost 7 minutes last night, Joey didn’t register anything. I’m serious. No rebounds, no points, no assists, no steals, no turnovers, no blocks, he didn’t foul anybody and didn’t even attempt a shot. 0’s straight across the board. That is almost impossible. At least Yogi back in the day would have slapped somebody just to let them know he was there. “Hey, I might not have done anything tonight, but SLAP! Now as you pick yourself up off the floor, remember my name! Yogi Stewart!” Come to think of it, if Yogi ever got 7 minutes of PT, he would have fouled out. Essentially, Joey just went for a jog for 7 minutes. Joey Graham’s game is like a stray cat, it comes and goes as it pleases, is occasionally dangerous and nobody really knows what to make of it.

Now, a question. What was Orlando doing going away from Howard? The guy was 13 of 14 and 6-8 from the line and suddenly, Orlando starting going away from him. Stupid. When you have your star hot like that and the other team’s star is lighting it up, feed the horse. Orlando played into the Raptors claws last night.

So now the Raptors have won 9-11 and are starting to pull away from the Nets. Actually, the Raptors aren’t that far out of first place in the conference, but the next three games are no joke. Lakers Friday (which they should win with the Lakers on the tail end of a back to back), then back to back as they go into Detroit on Saturday (which Detroit should take), then Chicago on Tuesday (God, can we finally get a win against Chicago?). It will be interesting how the next few days pan out.

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