•LX•: Welcome to Hell BABY
Old 01-03-2009, 03:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
convinced that Raptors fans are only happy when they're unhappy.

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Tracy McGrady’s comments after the game where he was bitching about not getting enough touches and crying about how his needing to be more of a facilitator is hurting his point production was just brutal. He made being “more of a Point Forward” sound like a disease. I can just see him visiting kids in the hospital and telling them, “I really feel for you not being able to get out of this wheelchair baby, but man, you know, I have to try to be more of a Point Forward, and I don’t see anybody coming around to cheer ME up”. Sadly I think it’s far too common for far too many “superstars” in this league. Honestly it makes me lose interest in the game overall.

On the flipside though, it makes me feel some love for the Raps win or lose. Since McGrady and Carter left town, there has been an emphasis on the team over the individual that makes it easy to keep pulling for them. I really thought the addition of Jermaine O’Neal would add to the mix quite well. He said all the right things about being physical and making sacrifices in order to win. He had the experience on a winning team. Numbers meant nothing. And in the first handful of games, all of that looked to be true. But then JO brought up his frustration at not being able to get any blocked shots, and he told tales of staying up until 4am watching himself on DVD with the aim of curing his troubles on offense. His new point of emphasis (namely himself) brought on his being repeatedly fed in the post against Boston. He had some nice “breakout” success in the first half, and crowed about simply being unstoppable. Then he didn’t even get started much in the half that followed, and the overall collapse of the team in that game was the start of the descent that would lead to a coach’s firing and a record that is going to be hard to recover from the rest of the way.


Now without a doubt, JO got things going for himself, and it’s hard to criticize his effort when it often looked like he was the only one supplying any effort. That’s not where I want to go here. I think too much blame was directed towards effort, and not enough to a lack of chemistry. My concern is with the veteran’s inability to bring everyone else along so that we could see their efforts make some much needed impact. I did not see him trying to build an identity for this team that everyone could contribute to, and that is what an experienced veteran ought to do. Instead I saw him try to shape the identity of the team to suit him better, and that’s just not what I expected from a guy who knows what is needed for a team to win. Look at what a good veteran like Mike Bibby has been able to do for Atlanta, without needing everyone to think of him as the Bibby of old. And if JO can come back and actually lead on defense without too much concern for anything else but team success, owning the kind of space that Bargnani and Voshkul did last night, then all the better. But I wonder if there’s much room for him anymore now that the team has managed to start building an identity without him. I fear that his headspace is a bit like T-Mac’s, maybe just fractionally, and maybe it’s all just in my head, but even catching just a hint of how T-Mac betrays the spirit of the game makes me die a little.

This also applies to any trade for that wing player. A lot of those guys are a bit too much like McGrady in their approach. The league changed the rules to help keep us from seeing guys playing on their own little islands, but unfortunately it’s still what too many players want for themselves. Whoever we get, if we ever get anybody, has to be a team-first guy far above and beyond the level of talent they might bring. Maybe that leaves us never being able to take that next step. If it does then I’m alright with that. But I remember teams in Utah that did not display oodles of talent in a number of positions, including the wings. It’s all about making the pieces fit, and I can actually see a scenario now, just hours after hitting rock bottom as a fan of this team, where pieces might just come together. The goal for the rest of the season has to be making the most out of what works in terms of personnel, and trying to figure out what to do with what doesn’t. Give the most burn to all the guys making it look easier to roll the big rock up that hill, and anybody envisioning, even for a moment, waiting alone at the top so he can hold it up like Atlas once the rest of the team struggles all that much more to get it there, needs to have their role limited.

Remember when Chris Bosh sat on the bench healing up for 12 games two seasons ago? Remember how he saw what worked for the team when he wasn’t on the floor, and how he worked to come back in a way that would add to that and not get in the way? I hope we can get some more help for him, and yet not take away from that approach. If not, this team will not just fall back to the early part of that 47-win season, but to much drearier times that had Bosh himself holding back the tears. And if they can find a couple of workmanlike players willing to make sacrifices as much as they talk about them, and help build an identity for this team that works for each of the parts, then they have a chance to make that jump to the next level. That’s the one bit of justice that keeps me loving the game. It’s not the inability to bring together all the talent in the world that holds teams back so much. Actually the pattern I see forming over and over, is with the McGrady’s of this league getting anywhere outside of shoe commercials no matter what pieces they have around them. Forget about the talent, and I suppose the experience as well, if it comes with eyes a little blind to the needs of teammates as well as the need for teammates.
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
convinced that Raptors fans are only happy when they're unhappy.

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Nicely said LX. I love JO and what he's brought to this team this season, but it isn't enough obviously. And if he is only looking out for himself now, then he's here for the wrong reasons. And if anything, I sincerely would think he'd be gone by the trade deadline next month.

Right now as precious and fragile Bargnani may be, I don't want to see him take another step back. This is the second time this season he's stepped up when playing centre and only centre and look what he's proven to do when given the opportunity. Bargnani has more of a future in the league than JO does for obvious reasons. That most certainly has to count for something nowadays. JO's a short term fix, Andrea as much as its hard for me to admit is a more long term fixture if we continue to get outings from him like we have as of late.
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Old 01-03-2009, 05:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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JO is a short term fix. Long term treasure.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Superb blog. Your last two entries have been really fantastic.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You had me until the last paragraph, unless of course Bosh saw the MVP trophy sitting from the bench too.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Bibby was villified in SAC before he left.... yet he's lauded now in ATL.

Now you have to ask yourself... how much of that has to do with his personality and how much of it has to do with the fact that he's on a better TEAM now that doesn't have to rely on him to do as much as before?

JO's in a no-win situation I think.

If he DOESN'T score in the post, play D, give us rebounds then he's a "waste of space". If he DOES look for his offense to try to help the team with some much needed scoring in the paint he's being "selfish".

What exactly is he doing NOW that's so different from when the "JO Appreciation" threads were all the rage?
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acie View Post
You had me until the last paragraph, unless of course Bosh saw the MVP trophy sitting from the bench too.
Bosh should have kept the MVP wishes to himself, but I saw the scrum when he relented a little too easily to questions about the possibility of MVP, and he made it very clear that to him it meant being able to help his team win, and that it wasn't going to be realistic until the team won more. He's always expressed the idea, which he got from Sam, that individual accolades will take care of themselves in due time if you're playing the right way and worrying about the right things. I really took him to mean that he was going to commit himself that much more to doing all the right things, like he clearly had with Team USA - and with good results. But of course the headline read "MVP or Bust", which besides being hard to decipher, just didn't do any justice to the way that the guy presented the whole idea after being pressured into it a little bit.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TORaptor4Ever View Post
Bibby was villified in SAC before he left.... yet he's lauded now in ATL.

Now you have to ask yourself... how much of that has to do with his personality and how much of it has to do with the fact that he's on a better TEAM now that doesn't have to rely on him to do as much as before?

And that is exactly the kind of question I thought we would be looking at with JO here. Bibby has experience on winning teams, and has also seen the other side of the coin. JO also joined up with a better team that required less from him, but it did need him to draw upon his experience to bring greater consistency, as Bibby as done in Atlanta.

JO is in a no-win situation simply because he can't get over the mental hurdle of how his body has betrayed him. I expected nothing but what he promised - playing physical, leading on defense, and not worrying about any numbers at all. I don't think he tried to con us, but I do think he conned himself a little bit, and hopefully he can still realize that he's strayed a bit from how he wanted to approach the whole season.

And if the guy had anything to do with the disarray this team has experienced then the sooner he leaves the better imo. Again he would have created his own no-win situation. My own suspicions in this regard are not entirely fair in that so much is not known, but not without some reasoning out of the things that are known - that being that he has a fat contract and possibly the mindset that comes with that all too often, along with the fact that he represents the biggest change to a team that avoided disarray through some very difficult situations in the past.
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