Originally Posted by Eric Smith's Blog
Somebody emailed me this morning (Daniel - from Mississauga) … asking if I thought the weather Toronto has been hammered with this winter could/would impact the Raptors on potential free agent signings, etc.
The easy answer is … yes … it COULD.
But then again, anything COULD impact a free agent’s decision. And I would guess that weather is pretty low on the list for most players. The opportunity to play; to star; to win a championship … THAT’S what matters most. Oh, and making a bunch of money helps too!
I have joked with Jason Kapono about the weather a few times this season. He also marvels - in a funny, sarcastic way - at how I rarely wear a heavy jacket or toque despite the weather we’ve received in T.O. this year. And when I made the mistake of once telling him I’d take the snow over rain ANY day … he hasn’t let me forget about those words all season. Everytime it snows … Kapono gives me a jab about how he’s certain I’d enjoy it more if it were raining. You don’t have to shovel rain.
But there’s never any animosity in his words. It’s all done tongue-in-cheek. While I can tell he doesn’t LIKE the snow … I’ve never thought for a second that he regretted coming to Toronto because of it. He’s a California kid - born and raised. He played his college ball at UCLA and he spent the best year(s) of his career in Miami. Obviously he has been sun-drenched and he prefers warm breezes and palm trees to windchills and pine trees. However, he has more than twenty million reasons to like T.O. … and I’m sure he can put up with the snowflakes for 3-4 months.
Many of the players and coaches live in condos … so a good chunk of their day is spent going from an underground parking lot in their building to the underground parking lot at the ACC. Aside from not being able to golf or sit on a patio for lunch, I’m not sure their day to day life is truly affected by the weather all that much (if at all).
Plus, while I am TIRED of the snow this year - getting storms every other day it seems - you also have to factor-in a couple of things.
1) While most of you are “stuck” in Toronto - unable to escape the snow (unless you’ve got a vacation booked) - the Raptors are flying in and out of the city all of the time. Sometimes they’re heading to other destinations that have been hammered by Mother Nature as well. But other times they’re escaping the white stuff by heading to Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, San Francisco, Sacramento, New Orleans, or Memphis. That’s one city shy (14) from being exactly HALF of the league. Thus, a respite from bad weather is never far off.
2) Some of the greatest players in the history of the game have played in cold weather / snow-covered cities. Again, a player’s decision about where he wants to play - or where he’s happy playing - has MUCH more to do about winning; about being on a competitive team that has a chance to be a consistent playoff/championship contender. It has little to do with WEATHER. Look back at some of the best:
- Michael Jordan (Chicago) - snow
- Larry Bird and COUNTLESS others before him (Boston) - snow
- Patrick Ewing and many others before him (New York) - snow
- Kevin Garnett (Minnesota (and now Boston)) - snow
- LeBron James (Cleveland) - snow
- Karl Malone and John Stockton (Utah) - snow
- Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, et al (Detroit) - snow
- Carmelo Anthony (Denver) - snow
- Allen Iverson (Philadelphia (and now Denver)) - snow
- Ray Allen (Milwaukee) - snow
Do I need to go on?
The Raptors will be judged by free agents - and players coming to down via trade - based on how good or bad they are as a team and as an organization. They’ll be judged on Bryan Colangelo, Maurizio Gherardini, and Sam Mitchell. For now, they’ll be judged on Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, TJ Ford, and Andrea Bargnani. They’ll be judged on by their division and conference and whether or not they’re in a position to be a consistent winner that is moving in the right direction … towards the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Some folks’ paranoia about Toronto … and that sort of “inferiority complex” has got to end. Now.