CB4 To Miami Could Make Some Raps History

Normally at the Dino Nation Blog it has been my unoffical policy to avoid to much talk of rumours. But I am going to make and exception for this one. Dan LeBatard a well know Miami media type has tweeted he is hearing that Bosh to Miami is a done deal. Here is the Quote from Twitter.

"I hear bosh-miami is done ..bosh-wade shared agent avoids tampering...its why beasley, chalmers, anthony still here...raptors get them"

It will in fact be a sign and trade. Here is the rumoured deal:

To Toronto:

Michael Beasley (F)

Mario Chalmers (G)

Joel Anthony (C)

To Miami:

Chris Bosh

Now to say that I am jumping up and down about this would not be true. Beasley is the 2nd pick version of Andrea Bargnani. He has had flashes of being good, but overall has been a disappointment. Chalmers is nothing special but has his moments. While Joel Anthony has played behind people in Miami and never really had a chance to play heavy minutes consistently. However what he is thought is a Canadian. A member of Canada's National Team and would be the first ever Canadian to wear a Raptor jersey assuming he remains. That would at least make me smile a bit. Prior to Miami offering him a qualifying offer, he was someone I felt the Raptors should consider. This could mean a move of Andrea Bargnani to the power forward spot if Bosh departs. Will see on all of it. But if this deal goes through it will make Raptor History on a couple fronts. The end of the Chris Bosh Era and a historic moment for the Raptors franchise with having a Canadian suit up for Canada's only NBA Franchise for the first time. Many will not think this is enough for Bosh. However I have always believed that you would never get as much as some assumed in a sign and trade for Bosh.

Update 12:50

Hence why the DNB hates rumours. According to Micheal Grange of the Globe and Mail this rumour is false. As for something factual Chris Bosh unfollowed me on Twitter and I never even realized. But you can make up for it if you don't follow me already @Dinonationblog. I want to remain classy and respect all that Chris has done for the Raptors. However his actions since the end of the season make that harder and harder to do. But I will remain acting like a grown up. I am not going to let a lousy end to 7 years erase what Bosh accomplished. On the floor unlike that other guy that demanded a trade, Chris always came to play.

Countdown to NBA Meltdown

Yes tonight at midnight in theory it could all come to an end. After 2 years of hype and build up from the folks at ESPN. The 2010 Free Agency Market opens for business. In the true spirit of overkill that we have come to expect/mock ESPN for.... they are ready. A Lebron tracker page on their website complete with count down clock to free agency. What you are still not impressed? Or there is more people. How about the game that is sweeping the nation, the NBA Free Agent Slot Machine. Spin the slots and send LBJ,D-Wade, CB4, Joe Johnson, Dirk and 3 others to possible destinations. Fun for the whole family. This along with all the great ESPN Insider info that is so good you have to pay for it. So what if Jalen Rose was wrong about his guarantee that LBJ and Bosh would be Knicks. They have your money regardless of if they were right or wrong. Not to mention the info will make it's way to Real G.M and other media soon enough right or wrong.

I may have to eat my own bit of crow if LBJ, Wade and Bosh end up in Miami. When a writer, who's name escapes me, from ESPN suggested it was possible that all 3 guys could end up playing for the Knicks. I believe that I responded that he was pretty much insane to think that could happen. Well he was wrong about New York but there seems to be a decent chance it could happen in Miami. The 3 superstars have apparently met and it seems that James is the one that is sitting on the fence according to the speculation.

It all leads you to wonder is all of this good for the NBA as a whole. It would appear the NBA tampering rules are now more guidelines then reality. Players conspiring which has never been illegal has now become public and broadcast everywhere from social media to CNN. When the dust clears from all of this about the only thing I am confident of is that David Stern will still be NBA Commissioner. If he is not happy with how this all plays out, he will be able to do something about it fairly soon. After the summer of free agency in 2010, we will gather again next summer for the summer of the CBA. Stern and the owners including the ones that this free agency will not benefit (Which will be many) will be looking to fix this. Things were already looking looking dark in terms of the CBA and this free agency period is not helping matters. When players can impact on how the league is shaped and not owners. Is it any surprise that owners don't like that?

At the front of that list should they not save Lebron you can expect to be Cleveland. You could make the argument that if not for Lebron the Cavs franchise may be gone. The Cavs were is sorry shape when the magic ping pong balls fell and they were given their king.Should they lose him does the franchise just fall right back to that abyss it was in? Which in case you forget was one of the worst franchises in the league that could not draw flies to their games. That is a problem in a number of markets these days. What is the message to those markets from this free agency? Stern created a CBA that was designed to prevent the NBA from going the way Major League Baseball has. Giving home teams that advantage of being able to pay the most and the longest contract was suppose to help teams keep their stars. However if the 3 biggest players in this free agency all thumb their nose at that. What does that say to fans of those small market teams? It is one thing if teams fail from their own stupidity like the Knicks did under Thomas or the Clippers have done since leaving Buffalo. However to have not at least in theory a level playing field is not good.

This is not to mention the Raptors who although having the money to compete, they still face a lot of the issues they have since the franchise was born. The fact we still hear on a routine basis players mention taxes as an issue in playing in Toronto. While no we still don't get ESPN, we do have Sportscentre not Sportscenter. The fact the Raptors still have to deal with these things is both frustrating and surprising given the world we live in. Toronto while loved as a road destination by almost everyone in the NBA, coming to play,stay and live is a different matter for some.

Bryan Colangelo has taken a lot of heat of late with all that has gone wrong. However while the results have not been successful the basic plan was an interesting way to find a loop hole. His approach to trying to use Toronto's appeal to European players was a great idea in theory. Over time it has been proven to be unsuccessful. Bargnani, Turkoglu, Calderon, Garbajosa, Nesterovic and others have had varying amounts of successes and failures. The one point that is a red flag to this European loop hole is international play. The Raptors have learned this over and over. The worst example in the injury of Jorge Garbajosa and his playing for Spain far to soon. Which would end his career in the NBA. Jose Calderon would be injured in playing for Spain. While most recently Hedo Turkoglu came into camp burnt out from playing for Turkey in the summer. He would go on to have a terrible season that was injury filled.

The advantage to having American based players is the odds they will play for Team USA are slim. Even if they do as in the cases of Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, the amount of time they have to play in games is far less than a Hedo has to play for Turkey, or Jose for Spain. That is another issue that David Stern needs to address. While the NBA grows and becomes more global in scope, having all of these players suited up for their countries in the summer, and then play a NBA season is burning the candle at both ends. Just like it would be difficult for hockey players in this country to say no to playing for their country. The same is true for these Euro players to say no to their countries. The NBA eventually has to find a way to say no for them.

But that is more of a side issue. The point is in theory the idea was a pretty good one despite the fact it failed. The NBA is on the verge of a free agency that will have a far greater impact then just where James, Wade, Bosh and others play. This is by all accounts, a game changer for the league going forward. The fallout maybe as much drama as the 2 year build up to July 1st 2010.


Heir Canada Will Take the Throne

With Bryan Colangelo finally facing reality and admitting that Chris Bosh isn’t likely to return to the Raptors next season, I thought I’d weigh in on the player I think has the potential to be Toronto’s next star.

Many might feel that it is now Andrea Bargnani’s time, or that if Hedo Turkoglu apologizes and comes to camp in shape, it will temporarily be his team. I disagree with both of those names. Although, his rookie season was slightly underwhelming, my pick for the future face of the franchise is DeMar DeRozan. The reason for picking DeMar is simple: if the Raptors couldn’t win with Chris Bosh as their main piece, why would they build around another, less reliable, perimeter-oriented big? If you look at this year’s champion, the LA Lakers, they did it with Kobe Bryant as their first option and Pau Gasol as their second. Now, I’m not saying that DeMar is anywhere near Kobe, or that Bargnani is as good as Gasol, I’m simply using them as an example. With that being said, I’m also not disregarding Bargnani’s talents but I feel that he isn’t the kind of player to build a team around. He will thrive if used as the primary big offensively with a bruiser playing with him down low. In other words, I’m more than comfortable as having him as the best scoring big man on the team, just not as the team’s main piece.

DeMar is just starting his career and many may have been unimpressed with what he offered during his rookie season. In order to provide some perspective, I thought I’d compare his numbers to the first years of other twos and threes who were the main players on their respective teams this past season.

DeMar DeRozan: 8.6 PTS, 2.9 REBS, 0.7 AST, .498 FG%, 6.6 FGA, .250 3P%, 21.6 MP, Age: 20 (77 GP, 65 as starter)

Kobe Bryant: 7.6 PTS, 1.9 REBS, 1.3 AST, .417 FG%, 5.9 FGA, .375 3P%, 15.5 MP, Age: 18 (71 GP, 6 as starter)

Joe Johnson: 7.5 PTS, 3.3 REBS, 2.3 AST, .430 FG%, 7.6 FGA, .292 3P%, 24.9 MP, Age: 20 (77 GP, 60 as starter)

Danny Granger: 7.5 PTS, 4.9 REBS, 1.2 AST, .462 FG%, 6.1 FGA, .323 3P%, 22.6 MP, Age: 22 (78 GP, 17 as starter)

Andre Iguodala: 9.0 PTS, 5.7 REBS, 3.0 AST, .493 FG%, 6.7 FGA, .331 3P%, 32.8 MP, Age: 21 (82 GP, 82 as starter)

You’ll notice that the only player DeMar averaged more minutes than was Kobe. In spite of that, he’s second in that group in points per game. His field goal percentage was the best out of the five and all of them except Bryant were older than him in their rookie campaigns. Now, the one stat that jumps out at me is three point percentage. DeMar is last in the group but here’s an important note: he only attempted 16 threes the whole season. In their rookie years, Kobe, Johnson, and Iguodala all attempted at least 130 threes with Granger being the only exception with 93. If DeMar develops the ability to shoot from outside, he will force his man to come out and guard him and it will open up his entire game as it did these players.

It should be said that many wing players have put up similar rookie numbers only to go on and fall into obscurity. But it is my opinion that DeMar possesses the drive and work ethic to mould himself into the kind of complete wing player that all winning teams possess. If you follow DeMar on Twitter, almost every day he speaks of putting in multiple workout sessions and daily trips to the court. The work ethic is there. Around the time Colangelo’s statements hit the Internet, DeMar tweeted, “Don’t worry, I got us...” Now, for all we know, he could have been talking about any number of topics, but I think the timing of his tweet indicates that’s he’s talking to the Raptors and their fan base. He will not immediately become a star in his second season, probably not even in his third, but if he works as hard as the players above, he definitely has the talent to take over the team in his fourth. And for a city that should already be bracing itself for yet another rebuild, I’ll count myself lucky to have a young talent such as DeMar who wants to be the guy. It might take some time but Heir Canada will take his throne-- it's up to him what he does with it.

Follow Anas on Twitter @thisisanas

Bosh Tweets Light Up My Twitter Page

With the admission of Bryan Colangelo that Bosh was as good as gone. It sparked a firestorm of fan reaction on social media. Twitter had a lot of hate for Chris Bosh with few signs of love. I would post some of them but honestly most were not exactly family friendly. The hate also extended to part of Bosh's inner circle as many fans took aim at Hadi Teherany. Who people may know better from his Twitter account @Hadisworld. He is the president of Max Deal Technologies among other things. A lot of Raptor fans see him as this evil figure. Personally I have never had an issue with him. But the reality of things is that Chris Bosh is the guy that made this decision not Hadi. Also, Henry Thomas is his agent and I would think he plays a larger role at the end of the day. Thomas Last summer joined Creative Artist Agency who had made the jump into pro sports with the launch of a sports division. He also is the agent for Dwyane Wade which has fueled the speculation of Bosh and Wade in Miami long before yesterday.

But I am not sure if Henry Thomas is on Twitter, but pretty sure he is not interacting with Raptor fans. Hadi on the other hand is a fixture on Twitter and rubs many fans the wrong way. It all has a very entourage feel to it. While it is unfair to suggest Hadi would be nowhere without Chris Bosh. I say that because I don't think fans have any knowledge to make that conclusion. It also is clear that his relationship with Chris has done him a lot of good personally and professionally. While I understand the dislike of many towards him. To me, this is like blaming Turtle for Vinnie Chase not making a movie in Canada. It is just an example mind you, not saying Hadi is Turtle, although from the debut of Entourage that isn't a bad thing. What is also clear is that Hadi could careless what people think in the Raptor fan base. At least if judge it by his public posts on Twitter. His loyalty is clearly to Chris and honestly it should be. While I have not agreed with a lot of how he has gone about things and how Chris and his people have approached this impending departure. When you search for a villain in this whole situation he makes an easy target. Which granted some would say is based on what he puts out there for public consumption. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with Hadi if he wants to present his side here in the Dino Nation Blog. I don't think that will happen but the invitation is open for him if he wants to take it.

I personally have been labeled by some as a Bosh apologist. I don't work for Chris and have never met Hadi. At the end of the day it is very easy to blame the guy walking out the door. However, Chris Bosh is not Vince Carter and any comparison to his leaving to Carter's departure is misguided. Carter clearly quit on the Raptors while playing for them. Chris gave what he had while playing for the Raptors. It should also be pointed out that some Raptors fans turned their back on Chris long before he decided to leave Toronto. After watching many stars go it seemed that some fans were determined to not get burned again and decided to hate Chris before he left them. About the only thing in common between the two (Carter&Bosh) is a lack of satisfaction with the performance of the organization.

When you look at this logically and without emotion this is more a case of the Raptors failure to surround Bosh with a supporting cast that was able to win. This is a far more intelligent conversation. In which you could argue or debate that Bosh owns at least a percentage of the blame. However, at the end of the day, the highest percentage of blame has to be at the top. That would be Bryan Colangelo. You could even take it a step further and say MLSE is to blame. They did not go over the tax threshold in the Chris Bosh era and make a serious attempt to win. Bosh at least suggested that in his remarks after the season. Now was that a MLSE choice and Bryan Colangelo was limited to a budget below that tax threshold? Only Bryan and the MLSE Board know that answer. Until Bosh made the point about it takes being a tax team to win a championship did MLSE make a public statement of being willing to go over the threshold. Maybe they had in the past and I missed it to be fair. However the point is that they didn't and haven't.

The blame game of why Chris Bosh left will go on for a long time to come. There may never be a real answer to what actually went wrong. However at the end of it all even if things when perfect for the Raptors maybe it wouldn't have mattered. If Bosh,Wade and James have a chance to play together and all 3 of them are committed to that goal, was there anything that anyone could have done to stop it? The answer is no. If they can all get paid and find a team that wants to make that happen it really is beyond any ones control to prevent it. Wade has positioned South Beach and Miami to be that place. His Organization has took the massive gamble of stripping the roster down to nothing to make it happen.

While for fans the departure of players is an emotional thing. In terms of Bosh, The Raptors, Agents and 29 other teams this is business. At the end of the day you need to decide if you are cheering for laundry or people. Jerry Seinfeld had a comedy bit on that about sports fans basically cheering for uniforms. I support my laundry and the Raptor logo but I do not just dismiss the people that I have enjoyed that played for the team. I also don't automatically like someone just because they are a Raptor. Ultimately like or dislike people the goal is always about the Raptors being successful. Chris Bosh leaving regardless of your feelings towards him good or bad is not a step in that direction at least in the short term. As for the long term it becomes the job of Bryan Colangelo to convince us that it will be. Talk of keeping Hedo Turkoglu potentially is not exactly a move in that direction if you ask me. But to be fair Colangelo has an off-season to change minds. Something that will be hard to do as many will point to his failures as the main reason their 5 time All-Star is gone.


B.C Admits The Bosh Era Is "Likely" Over

Bryan Colangelo in an interview on the Fan 590 admitted that it is "likely" that Chris Bosh is going to leave Toronto. Bosh as expected has not used his player option and is officially a free agent. He also admitted to have little communication with Bosh lately. Saying that Bosh had been on a vacation for like a month. That has not stopped Bosh from appearing on many U.S based radio and t.v programs. Most recently on ESPN's morning radio show on the day of the NBA Draft. Bosh has refused interview requests from the Fan590. Even the events in Toronto from the G-20 Summit violence did not draw even a tweet from Bosh.

I am upset at how Bosh has handled his all but confirmed exit from Toronto. I do not dispute that it from his prospective is likely a wise decision. Colangelo in the same interview said that all his moves that he has made have been discussed with Chris. However the failure of the major moves he has executed have been a large part of Bosh wanting out. Colangelo upon taking the job with the Raptors stated part of the appeal of it was to build a team around Chris. He has now officially (or will when Bosh signs elsewhere) failed to do that.

In other bits and bites from the interview Colangelo claims that Hedo Turkoglu is moveable. However he says he does not think of the situation could still not be repaired. That time can change things. Still, I would think that with a Bosh free Raptors and the fan base hating Hedo to Vince Carter levels that you can't fix that. Also Colangelo suggested that if Bosh leaves the re-signing of Amir Johnson would be come a high priority.

The most scary of all could be this thought. Colangelo who once had stated that he and Bosh had an agreement to work together on a sign and trade situation seemed to suggest that is no longer a lock. Chris had once also said that as well in terms of working with Raptors for a sign and trade. What seems to have changed is Bosh's willingness to pair up with Dwyane Wade or Lebron James or both. Some have suggested that Miami is going to try and land all 3 of the big free agent haul. If that were to happen the pressure on Miami would be massive.

News has been leaking that James has ruled out Cleveland and now this acknowledgment by Colangelo about Bosh, Cleveland and Toronto have the potential to be the biggest losers in 2010 Free Agency. Colangelo himself has yet to have his contract extended along with news that his father Jerry could be taking over the Nets as President. It could be possible B.C may not be to long for the Raptors as well. If he can not find a way to get this team on the right path in the post Bosh era that seems very possible.

It is hard not to think of Colangelo as a failure as the G.M. He was brought here to save us. To use a little Stars Wars, He was the chosen one and was suppose to bring balance to the force. He was not suppose to end up like the evil G.M's of the past that failed to save our star players from the evil Untied States and those 29 other teams. So who is the Raptors Luke Skywalker? I have no idea. But it wasn't Bosh and it isn't B.C. July 1st is a holiday in Canada but for Raptor fans it is the start of a sad summer and off-season. Bryan Colangelo has the almost impossible task of making that not be the case.

Colangelo said that with all that went on it created "The Perfect Storm" for Bosh to leave. There is nothing perfect about that and Colangelo admits that Ed Davis is not going to be able to replace Chris. That would be unfair to think he could. Raptor fans have seen this movie before and they are getting tired of it. Who can blame them.

DNB Canadian Content

Canada is starting to make waves in basketball. Most hardcore basketball fans are aware Canada was able to qualify teams on all 4 levels for the FIBA World Championships. In the first of those Championships, Canada's under 18 women were able to bring home a bronze medal. Canada defeated Chile 81-42 after a narrow loss to Brazil 50-49 in the semi-finals. This was the kick-off to a summer full of events.

Currently the Canadian Men's under 18 team just concluded group play today with a loss to Brazil 83-78 despite 20 points and 12 rebounds from Myck Kabongo who has already committed to Texas for the 2011-2012 season. He could potentially join Corey Joseph and Tristian Thompson who start as freshman there this fall. Canada was able to knock off Uruguay 76-52 and Puerto Rico 100-83 prior to the loss to Brazil. They have qualified to advance to the semi-finals and will face the winner of Argentina and the United States. But regardless Canada at worse will have a shot at another medal in this tournament.

Unfortunately if you want to see these games you are forced to head online to watch them. The Fiba website provides a video feed to all the games from San Antonio. The medal round takes place June 30th with the Semi-Finals set for tomorrow. As for the rest of the Summer the Men's World Championship takes place August 28th to September 12th in Turkey.

Canada will complete in Group D which features France (Who they will play in an exhibition game at the ACC prior to Tournament), Spain, New Zealand, Lithuania and Lebanon . Which just by my limited knowledge of international basketball sounds tough. Although both Tony Parker for France and Pau Gasol for Spain are expected to take a pass on the Worlds. Canada also takes on China in an exhibition game on August 10 prior to the 2 games vs France at the ACC on the 12th and 13th.
While the ladies head to Czech Republic from Sept. 23 to Oct 3rd for the Women's World Championships.They will be in group A with China, Belarus and Australia.

While I am on this whole Canadian Content theme. Joel Anthony who will be playing for Canada in those World Championships is now a free agent. The Raptors likely could use a legit option or two at center. It is not likely going to be a pleasant season for the Raptors if the off-season plays out as bad as it could. I think to add the first ever Canadian Raptor could soften the blow for me. Joel Anthony is a decent to good NBA player. He is not likely to be an expensive guy to sign. It seems to make a ton of sense to me that the Raptors should make a serious attempt to bring him home to Canada.

While many see the idea of Canadian on the Raptor roster as not a priority. I disagree, and think in a year where you watch yet another superstar leave Toronto to return to the United States, why not bring home one of our own? Anthony has never had a really chance to play big minutes, and if Bosh leaves you could expect Andrea Bargnani to move over to the 4. So I close this with my humble advice to the Raptors to buy Canadian. If they don't there will be other chances with Thompson, Joesph and Kabongo to draft Canadian, all being realistic NBA Prospects at this point.


A Sad Weekend In Toronto

Regular readers of the Dino Nation Blog are aware I am not from Toronto. That being said many of you that read, as well as many people that I consider friends do. Not to mention I have reason to visit the city on a regular basis in covering the Raptors. The events of this weekend as a result of the G-20 Summit in Toronto were deeply upsetting to me. I have walked in the streets of many of the areas that were damaged and destroyed on Saturday. It was upsetting to watch as someone who is a regular visitor to the city. I can only imagine what it felt like for the people that call it home. While many people went to Toronto to protest for what they felt was just cause. Others clearly went there to do nothing but cause damage and chaos to the city.

Police from Toronto and all across this country including my home of Hamilton were there trying to keep law and order and keep people safe. Without those people, there is no way to know how much worse things could have been. While people went there with what they would class as peaceful protests, in the end they served as cover for thugs to destroy the city. I am not here to argue political agendas or say if what these people were protesting was worthwhile or not. However it would seem clear to me as a logical person that the chances of them being able to create any actual change was about as realistic as the Clippers winning the NBA Title. They were used as nothing but pawns for people to take violent acts against a city that I care about. The protests they had did nothing other than to aid that. This is my opinion and you may not share it. However just as they will claim their right to protest, it is my right to say how short sighted, idealistic and stupid it was.

The other thing that was disturbing for me is the majority of these people especially the criminal thugs that caused the damage and destruction were not even from Toronto. While many will point to the choices made by the politicians to hold this summit where they did, was almost asking for trouble in holding this event where they did. I do not disagree with that view at all. In working on the internet and seeing things like Ustream and other ways to use video, it would seem to make far more sense to hold these things via video conference. Politicians would argue that they need these face to face meeting to make things happen. I like many, think there has to be a better way then spending 1.2 billion dollars for that to happen.

I could not seriously write about where Chris Bosh is going to play in 2010 and think that it is important after all I have seen this weekend. It kind of puts in perspective all of this 2010 Free Agency Frenzy. It really doesn't matter. Sorry to break the news to Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. I could never cover hard news for the simple reason that it impacts on lives. Sports as much as we may love it and care about it, the simple fact is sports is a great diversion from life. If I am wrong about anything in terms of the Raptors it will not have an impact on life. It is just sports after all. Events like we saw this weekend, the little earthquake we had recently, or to even a large scale event like September 11th remind us of that.

The long term impact of what we all have witnessed in Toronto remains unclear. I deeply hope it does not change the city that I know. While I call Hamilton my home, and as such will always cheer for the Ti-Cats and not the Argos. I still have always loved Toronto and have always been happy to enjoy time in the city. In writing this blog the number of people I know, has grown to large to mention. To know all of those people were being impacted by these events, made it hit home for me. To have personally sat in that Starbucks that was destroyed on Queen St does the same. I just found it all sad and disturbing. This was not what Toronto is for me or anyone else that has had the pleasure to go there or live there. This was some city you see on the news and you say thank God that is not where I live.

I think the one thing that I know from Raptor fans is they are loyal and stick with it no matter what. In fact all Toronto sports fans despite not having much reason to have faith and hope, still continue to have it. I think that is a reflection of Toronto as a city. People that endure a lot but still find a way to remain hopeful and optimistic. After the events of this weekend the same is needed for the city as a whole. I don't think anyone should or could forget the images of this weekend. I have faith and hope that Toronto will remain the place it always has been. They will not let outsiders, for the most part, come in and take away what Toronto is.

I think on behalf of all Raptor fans who do not happen to call Toronto home, they would agree with this that I am about to say. God Bless you folks of Toronto and do not let this change your city. We may complain about a lot of things but at the end of the day I think we all care for your city.

I know that I do and I am happy that all of the people I know in the City are safe. The Dino Nation is no part of any G-20 summit. It is just a nation of people that love basketball and the Raptors. A big part of that nation is the people of Toronto.


Raptors Draft Was Not Sexy

It was pretty easy to figure that Draft Night was never going to meet fan expectations. Rumours of a Hedo Turkoglu draft day deal being done were just that....Rumours. In fact there was no Hedo trade, No Jose trade or a Jack trade. Not even the widely expected 2nd pick in the first round. In fact the Raptors remained at 13 and drafted a player they did not expect to be there. Ed Davis dropped to the Raptors at 13 as some unexpected picks ahead of the Raptors left Davis the odd man out. The Jazz were one of the teams that went a different direction that set off a chain reaction that led Davis to the Raptors.

Normally in most years drafting a player out of UNC in the first round would be a great move. But these are not the Tarheels you know and expect. This was one of the worst seasons for Carolina in years and years. They were in the NIT not March Madness. Davis was injured and that was a part of the Tar Heel free fall. However it was already well underway. A Texas team that featured 3 players in the Draft (Bradley, James, Pittman ) at Cowboy Stadium pounded this UNC team. After that game Damion James and Avery Bradley looked like the lottery picks not Davis. Duke demolished UNC this season as well. Davis injured his wrist in one of those games. The Raptors say they think the wrist is ready to roll. After Medical staff check out Davis it is expected he will be cleared and at summer league.

Ironically Davis is a Chris Bosh fan. Last year Demar DeRozan was a Vince Carter fan. Just like Demar was not the second coming of Vince, although I still love the "Heir Canada" nickname. Ed Davis is nothing close to Chris Bosh. While Davis is a solid force on the glass and a shot blocker and solid defender on the college level. His offensive game is far from polished and needs a ton of work. He likely never comes close to being the dynamic force that Chris Bosh is on offense. While the things we measure are the same with 6ft 10 and 225 frame while being left handed. The comparison ends there.

In the end the Raptors hope the have drafted a solid post defender and a shot blocking presence. It still remains a question how this team intends to score with no Bosh, Turkoglu and Calderon or Jack potentially. Bargnani even at his max will give you 20-25 points? Demar and Sonny hope you get 15 each? I am just saying that taking for granted this team in a post Bosh Era can score is a mistake. Andrea will now see double teams perhaps. Whatever the case the Raptors become easier to defend. Even a sign and trade for Bosh would unlikely produce a number 1 scoring option in return.

The Raptors would make another minor move on draft night. Not minor in terms of size, with a 7 foot 1, Nigerian Giant coming their direction. It would take dollars and 2nd round pick in 2013 to acquire Solomon Alabi out of Florida State. It goes without saying that this guy at his height is another shot blocking presence. He is very raw but unlike a Nathan Jawai of a few years ago, he has some experience here in North America playing in the ACC with FSU. This is another player that has limited offense and has a lot of work to do.

What the Raptors have done speaks to a couple things. First of all if you were holding out any hope that Chris Bosh was coming back, this would appear to be your answer. He isn't it would seem. The Raptors also have Amir Johnson, Patrick O'Bryant and Rahso Nesterovic all not under contract. The only of those 4 you have a decent chance of seeing is Amir Johnson. So by drafting these 2 kids it is a clear sign the Raptor believe they will need to restock their big positions.

The second is the Raptors are trying to focus on improving the terrible defense of the past. Still it is my belief you need to unload Jose to truly do that. However if you add a shot blocker behind him that can save him a lot of times when he gets beat. At least that would be the thinking. Raptors have clearly focused on D heading into this draft. So if you wanted to see the Raptors D improve these 2 picks should help. However, it also is another clear sign the Bosh Era is coming to an end.

Raptors fans expected so much more from this night. It is nothing against these young men at all. They could both turn out to be decedent selections at the end of the day. However there is no sizzle to these guys. Demar DeRozan had TONS OF SIZZLE with jaw dropping athletic talent. The Raptors this season have drafted two real lunch bucket type of players. They could develop into fan favourites but will not replace the star this team is going to be missing. The bar of expectations has been set to an impossible level for Colangelo and the Raptors to match it. If you are expecting miracles from this Raptors team you may be setting yourself up for a rude awaking.

You have to hope that their two picks can be part of the solution going forward. This is going to be a long summer for the Raptors, and at the end of the day it is not Chris Bosh who is to blame. The Raptors have had many chances to get it right to build around him and they have failed to do so. Raptors are fighting long odds as teams are going crazy trying to cut salary. The most extreme example is Miami with just 2 players under contract. The Raptors may have got tougher tonight but not better in the short term.


"Basketball Beyond the Floor"

"There are a few things in the game of basketball today that can be said without debate. This is one: The deepening battle to become the 'sole influence' over the best twelve year-old is bad for the game" (Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger of Sole Influence: Basketball Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth). This pretty much sums up the most in your face and detailed account of the money games played in the NBA today. It paints a different picture than the smiles and hugs you see on NBA draft night. Before the book you may have thought, 'Look at those kids up there celebrating with their families and wearing a cap from the team who just signed them. Dreams are really coming true for these young men'. According to Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger who wrote Sole Influence, the National Basketball Association is a nasty place where money is concerned and you may just get eaten alive if you are not careful. And after getting through all 288 pages, you begin to believe it.

The Marriage of Michael Jordan and Nike

This is what the book claims really started the whole 'sole influence' war. Big time corporations looking to find the next MJ would go to great lengths to achieve this. And what kills me is, this actually starts at 12 years old now. So in order to even be considered for corporate sponsorship, now you need to have a reputation for excellence in grade school? Does this mean we have to be working our kids in preschool to get them up to an exceptional level by the time they are just hitting puberty? Amazing, isn't it? Think about how it all started. In the early 1920s to 1970s, Converse was the sole influence on players like Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It began at the college level, where a company would go in to a Head Coach and say something like 'Hey. Here are some shoes for your kids and here's some money for you if you preach from our Bible'. Most coaches would welcome the give aways and subsequent stipend since it would make them look good in the eyes of the school administration since they didn't have to budget for the shoes now and they get some monetary credit for the development of that player. Remember when Tracy McGrady was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 1997? He was fresh out of Mt. Zion Christian Academy and penned a 6 year, 12 million dollar deal with Adidas that included 6 figure payouts to his high school coach and the scout who discovered him. You and I deal with people everyday that you have to put on a happy face for and figure out who's in and who's out. But can you imagine playing under that pressure cloud? Unreal.

No doubt about it - Michael Jordan has been one of the biggest stories in the history of sports marketing. But what is really sad is, the whole 'be like Mike' campaign paints the wrong picture and the book really explains why. The book offers the comparison of Steve Kerr. Authors Wetzel and Yaegar feel it's more realistic to get kids to aspire to be like a Steve Kerr since he works hard at being good. This is not to say that MJ didn't work hard in his playing days but he was also an extraordinary talent and that got him ahead. I think the funniest thing about his whole story is Michael Jordan was quoted as saying, "I've never worn Nike. I'll probably sign with Adidas". Never say Never.

The Nike School of Basketball

This storyline is what struck me most about Sole Influence. The idea that 12 year-olds are being courted by big name corporations to wear their product is creepy but I get it. But the fact that athletes are now turning down colleges because they are an "Adidas school" or "Nike school" absolutely floored me. I remember covering the Reebok Invitational (DNB James will remember this) a while back thinking, 'How cool is this that a company will sponsor a high school basketball tournament, hand out some swag and prizes and give these young athletes a chance to develop their talents'? I would like to believe it was out of the kindness of their corporate hearts but after reading this book I realized they may have had other motivations. Nike does these kind of camps and tournaments, too. The book claims they set up shop (a sponsored tournament or basketball camp) to scope out potential players they can sway to be 'solely influenced' by their respective company. Then when a fraction of these kids actually make it to the NBA, the conundrum starts - does the athlete work for the team that signed them or the company that sponsors them? And I love how the book refers to March Madness as a "multi-million dollar TV orgy and better than any fashion runway in Paris".

The most positive thing coming out of the book was in chapter 9 when an argument was made in favour of the WNBA. Authors Wetzel and Yaeger say the WNBA has a sense of purity with less trash talking, violence or insubordination. Speaking from experience, I don't think this makes any female athlete less aggressive or tough as a player, they are just smart enough not to do anything stupid in front of a referee - most of the time. I have never heard anything in the NBA like the story I read in this book about Chamique Holdsclaw. She was photographed wearing Nikes when Adidas was trying to win her over. She claimed the Nikes were more comfortable, so Adidas flew down a team of designers to find out how they can improve the product and better serve Tennessee (the college basketball team she was playing for at the time). After improving the shoe, Chamique later switched to Adidas. Now that's customer service.

Flick Pick of the week

So if you haven't read Sole Influence yet, I hope today's discussion compels you to. This week's flick pick choice is in the same flavour as greed and corruption: He Got Game. If you haven't watched it already, it is a must see most definitely. It is written and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttelsworth, a prison inmate released for a week by the state governor to get his son Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics - at the time the movie was made, he was with the Bucks) to play for the governor's Alma mater. All in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. Something you might find interesting about this movie is Kobe Bryant was considered for Jesus Shuttlesworth but was not available at the time. Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson were passed over. Even Rick Fox, Travis Best and Walter McCarty tried out for the Jesus spot but ended up with supporting roles. Spike Lee approached Ray Allen after a Bucks-Knicks game to be in the movie and the rest is history. As a basketball fan, you will not be complete without this movie.

Next week we will be discussing the book: Shooting Stars by Lebron James and Buzz Bissinger. It's a nice read after reading about today's heavy subject but some parts made me shake my head. I'll tell you why next Thursday, along with another flick pick - one of my all-time favourite movies. Happy reading and see you on Tuesday for another serving of "Jiggly Bits".


Now there are a ton of Live Blogs on draft night. But if you are a Raptor Fan and looking to have a good time then our live blog is the best for you. Get all your favourite snacks and gather around your T.V with your computer and come experience the NBA Draft with your friends in the Dino Nation. We get rolling at 6:45 pm and we will not stop till all the picks are made maybe even longer.

So go tell a friend and bring them along. Polls as the night goes on and lots of input from you the audience. Along with my 2 cents along the way. I look forward to spending the night with all of you that make up the Dino Nation.


2 Weeks To The New and Improved Raptors?

You would never know the incredible amount of stress that Bryan Colangelo is under by looking at him. Colangelo could easily land a job selling deodorant, as he never let's you see him sweat. He should be though, with all that is in front of him this summer. In speaking with the media yesterday he stated the Raptors could look very different in two weeks when everything plays itself out. He repeated the mantra several times, that the Raptors are prepared to move forward with or without Chris Bosh. The same seems to apply with Hedo Turkoglu. That being said, Colangelo was not ruling out entirely the fact Hedo, at least in theory, he could be back next year. However, it seems very unlikely based on what has gone on. Colangelo clearly is aware that his big signing has become public enemy number 1 in Toronto. He isn't Mr. Popular within the organization as well you would have to imagine. Even the point guard situation Colangelo refused to tip his hand. He stated that the team is by no means mandated to trade Calderon or Jack. He says that he has had conversations with both and if both return he thinks they could co-exist. However with all of that said he also said in two weeks this team could look vastly different.

But change is coming and you only needed to look at this year at the Muchmusic Video Awards show. Last year CB4 was on hand, but this year it was the Young Guns. If I am talking about Muchmusic, I guess it should be gunz... right? While Chris Bosh is very tight lipped on where he wants to be, Amir Johnson seems very open to a return to Toronto at least by his actions. Bosh leaving would open up a ton of time and opportunity for Johnson should he decide to stay. He along with Demar and Sonny could really in my view, see this as their shot to collectively have their own team. While no one would think Weems, DeRozan or Johnson could lead a team alone, as this group maybe they can and will. Safe to say Andrea Bargnani is not going to take on the role as the face of the franchise.

Colangelo made it no secret the Raptors are shopping for a second first round pick. So maybe when all is said and done on Thursday the Young Guns will grow by 2 members. Avery Bradley playing his ball at Texas would seem like a natural fit. At times he has been thought of as the best defender in college basketball by some. However the NBA is a different animal, he can ask Demar DeRozan about that. Bradley is a streaky shooter and when he is hot looks very good. But as was with Ray Allen in the Finals, the same can be said for Bradley. He has some days where he clearly is not hot. Even the draft experts are not sure what to do with Bradley, as he jumps around mock drafts like a Mexican jumping bean. Ebanks is another player the Raptors may consider, if they acquire a second 1st round pick. However, if they take Bradley, that would seem less likely he would be selected with a second pick.

If Chicago was the landing spot for Chris Bosh you would likely assume that Taj Gibson may come back as part of a sign and trade package. I guess what I am getting at is, The Young Guns could be a gang of many by the time the summer ends. What they all would have in common is the fact they come from the USA and it would change the Euro/ North American balance of this team. When you consider Rasho, Hedo and Jose are all good bets not to return. Then you add 2 draft picks that every indication suggests they will be NCAA products from the United States.

The United Nations approach clearly has not worked for the Raptors. Some could even go as far as saying that is part of the reason that Chris Bosh will not return. I am not going that far thought. But it did create a divide in the Raptors locker room. Hedo and his hot mess of a season clearly did nothing but add to that. Colangelo insisted that his team has a lot of talent based on the phone calls he is getting on players and trade possibilities. I am not here to argue with him on that as only he knows how much his phone rings. However the collective group, however talented they were or are, were unable to win and succeed.

While I think the short term outlook for the Raptors is clearly bleak. Even if Colangelo manages to pull several rabbits out of his hat. The long term future is unclear at best. The Raptors seem like they want to get younger and less European in nature. I don't think many fans will complain about that second part. The Raptors lack of defense only feeds the stereotype of Euros being soft on that end of the floor. Something even Pau Gasol has had to fight hard to lose the tag of being. It was not just the Euros that were responsible for the Raptors poor defense though.

However you cut it the Raptors will be starting a new era and it begins tomorrow. Bryan Colangelo if Chris Bosh does in fact depart will have a ton of pressure on him to make this team better in the long run. Colangelo pointed to Bosh as a reason to why he took this job in the first place. He has failed to build a successful team around him. This may indeed be the off-season in which he pays for those consequences. Yet he still remains the confident guy that he always has been since he walked in the door in Toronto. Wish I was as confident as he is.


"Jiggly Bits"

Thursday was hard. In fact, the whole series was hard. No one expected the Boston Celtics to be there but they were. No one expected the Lakers to need game 7 to win a championship but they did. The 2010 NBA Finals were won by a team who wanted it more. Both teams were talented, both had stamina but the Lakers had more fire in the end. With a game 7 score of 93-89 you know it could have gone the other way. Kobe Bryant said this series was the sweetest of the now 5 titles he has with the Lakers because it was against the Celtics and it was the hardest one to get. A well-deserved parade followed on Monday. We'll touch on this and talk about a possible Celtic retirement and I'll give you my top five drama-induced reasons why this is going to be the craziest summer in the NBA. Hold onto your hats.

Back to back without Shaq

I love post season parade celebrations. A chance for fans to connect and celebrate with the team they have pumped their time and money into. The only real complaint from fans concerning the Lake Show parade was for the floats to drive slower so as to catch a longer glimpse of their favourite player. Phil Jackson was not there to enjoy the festivities because according to team spokesman John Black, Phil was at a previously scheduled health check-up. Really? Unless he has some terminal illness we don't know about, blood work and other tests can wait, can't they? I am a little suspicious since doctors' appointments can be rescheduled especially if you are Phil Jackson and your team just won an NBA championship. Speaking for the team, John Black said Phil Jackson's health is the highest priority for them and for Phil and a big reason in deciding if Phil stays or goes. The only thing I can think of that is remotely similar was way back in university when I was Vice President of the student's association and the VP who was replacing me asked me to be a part of the celebrations afterward. He was a good friend (and still is) so I stayed to hear his name announced but left directly after. I wanted to be there for him but since I had made the decision to not to come back the following year, the celebrating part would not have been much fun. This is what my gut is telling me about Phil Jackson. He's made the decision to leave already and may play the health card as a part of his exit strategy.

Speaking of exits, Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers told some media types about Rasheed Wallace and his probable retirement. According to Coach Rivers, Rasheed told him before game 7 that he believed it would be the last game of his career. If this is all true, he must have made this decision mid-season since he has 2 years left on the contract he signed with the Celtics last summer. Retiring at 35 years old? At least he won an NBA championship with Detroit in 2004. Will he be remembered for the 15, 860 points and 7, 321 rebounds he amassed over a 15 year career in the NBA? Or, will it be the 30 game ejections he's had since 1994 when the stat started being kept - the most any player has had since. We'll just have to wait and see.

The Summer of Crazy Fun in the NBA

The 2010 NBA draft and free-agency signing period will be about 10 days apart. Then the real show begins. The x-factor in how high the drama will climb is Lebron James. If he leaves, we jump on the drama train. If he stays, it may be an anti-climatic summer. Who knows what is waiting for us come July 1st but here are my top 5 drama-induced story lines to make this a crazy fun summer in the NBA.

#1 - Lebron James. He is the one everyone is waiting on. I really think too much weight is being put on this guy. I am kinda getting "Lebroned out". With all these spots he's doing to try and promote himself, not really sure how Cleveland fits into his plans. He's made up his mind already and just isn't telling anybody.

#2 - The City of Cleveland. This is getting ridiculous. As if a few parties and parks named in his honour is really going to sway him either way. It's about the money now since there are other clubs showing him the love. Even in minor league baseball. Get this: the Lake Erie Crushers plan to offer James a maximum contract worth $1, 600 a month, including a host family and a luxury suite. To make the absurd even more absurd, the team is renaming its park 'Lebron James Field' on June 30th at All Pro Freight Stadium for that night. And if your name is Lebron, you get in free. Puleeze.

#3 - Teams with money to spend and how they spend it. The New Jersey Nets have both money to spend on the juiciest free agency class in a long time and a high pick in the draft. They will be the team to do the most signing, spending and trading. Watch them closely. One team I'm a little concerned about is the New York Knicks. They have been trying to get on Lebron's good side for a while and if he doesn't set up shop in New York, they may just do something silly like overpay a third or fourth choice if they don't grab someone in the event Lebron doesn't change addresses.

#4 - The Raptors without Bosh. Raptors fans deserve more. Chris Bosh is a good guy and also deserves more. But how do you fix this problem? Raptors President and General Manager Brian Colangelo needs to pull out all the stops - his legacy is at stake. So is the the faith of Raptors fans in the club he leads.

#5 - Where Chris Bosh ends up. It's either Chicago or Los Angeles. These are the two biggest cities I see Bosh fitting into. Chicago has Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah but it's downfall is Michael Jordan used to play there. Bosh would be pressured to live up to that legacy. If he joined the Lakers he may be second fiddle to Kobe but may be just as happy to be surrounded by talent and support.

Basketball Beyond the Floor

I am loving this feature and so are you just from the feedback I have been getting. Tune in this Thursday when we'll be discussing Soul Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth. This book will make your head spin and open your eyes. I have a flick pick for you along the same theme as this book. I also welcome suggestions for future reads and flick picks. Thank-you for all your feedback and support so far - it is very much appreciated. Happy reading and see you Thursday.


Starting 5 with Ray Bala from CanBallReport

The DNB is happy to welcome back Ray Bala from CanBallReport to talk about the future of basketball in this country, and the upcoming NBA Draft. Ray was at the All Canadian Classic that was recently held at the ACC. We talk about that event and why Texas is about to become Canada's favourite NCAA school, with 3 Canadians heading down to the school in the next 2 years. Everyone is World Cup crazy, but we look ahead to an event Canada is actually involved in. The World Championships in Turkey. Canada is also taking part in Women's World Championship and both teams on the junior level. It is a big summer for Canada Basketball. We also get into the Raptors and the NBA draft as well. It was a great conversation and hope you enjoy it.

Great talking with Ray and will have him back around World Championship time, to go in depth on Canada's chances in Turkey. Ray does great work keeping on top of all the young talent this country has produced. He has even had some of his work appear online for Slam Magazine.You can also follow Ray on Twitter @CanBallReport. Thanks to Ray for his time and his dedication to keep people informed on the up and coming kids in basketball in this country.


The Starting 5's #1 Draft Choice Jack Armstrong

We at the Dino Nation Blog are very fortunate to have many great regular guests. If we had to draft our guests, this would be our number 1 pick, out of Fordham University, the former coach of the Purple Eagles.... Jack Armstrong. He also of course has been a fixture with the Raptors for over a decade. At this time of year Jack is always a great guest to have for his knowledge of the NCAA game. He was once the youngest head coach in division 1 college basketball. He still even with his Raptors schedule works on broadcasts covering the NCAA during the college season. We talk about a number of the prospects in the draft that the Raptors could consider. Before we get into that we talk about Ron Artest and his winning a championship last night with the Lakers. Jack actually coached against Artest in his college days with St John's. We also get into a discussion on just what the Raptors future could be in a post Bosh world. It as always is a very insightful and interesting conversation. It has been a pleasure and an honour for me to talk with Jack for these past few years. I greatly respect his honesty and straight forward no nonsense attitude. There is only one Jack Armstrong, he is a true original. Hope you enjoy our latest conversation as much as I did having it.

Some interesting thoughts from Jack as always. Like I said at the end of the interview, it promises to be an interesting summer, and as things go alone we will have Jack back for his take on things as they develop. A lot is being made of a couple interviews Chris Bosh did in L.A and N.Y in where in both he suggested that things could change after the draft. What that means is up for debate. But there have been rumours that Bryan Colangelo has a Hedo deal in place for draft night. There is also the old rumour that Bosh would be moved to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum. Andrew is heading for surgery regardless of where he plays next year. How has the Lakers winning another championship impact on their desire to acquire Bosh? It is an interesting question. They did take on Artest instead of Ariza after winning a title. Guess the point is that many rumours are out there, and who knows what is fact or fiction. But as the NBA Draft approaches next Thursday Raptors fans are left to ponder the future and that likely begins at the draft.


"Basketball Beyond the Floor" - Danielle de Graauw

Welcome to the first installment of "Basketball Beyond the Floor" where we'll talk about books and movies with basketball as it's main course or at least it's side dish. Originally, this segment was going to be called "Books, Movies and Basketball" but James put his flavour on it and now it has a whole new feel and life of it's own. Today, we will be discussing the book Hoop Dreams by author Ben Joravsky and later on, I will give you a movie suggestion for this weekend and the book we'll be discussing next week.

Hoop Dreams - A True Story

My mom is psychic. In high school, I remember being in the mall and seeing this really cool red hoody and thought to myself, "That needs to be in my wardrobe". Never mentioned it at home and then low and behold, it was under the Christmas tree with my name on it. The exact one. I don't know where the red hoody is now or have ever found one like it again, but the one gift that I will always remember is when she gave me Hoop Dreams in college. When I first read it, I couldn't put it down. I would literally walk up the steps to my basement apartment's front door and answer it with the book still in my hand and eyes glued to the page. It is my favourite book of all time. Let me tell you why.

I am not usually cool with books as adaptations from a movie since they usually get read after the film is viewed and you end up being disappointed. Hoop Dreams the novel, is an adaptation from a documentary of the same name. Real-life characters William Gates and Arthur Agee were followed around by cameras for nearly five years. Their lives from the playground to high school to college were documented, even the whole college recruiting process. I read the book first before seeing the movie and it really gave me an appreciation for the printed word's ability to paint a picture in your mind as if you were right there beside Gates and Agee going through it with them. I could see the 90 minute commutes to school on the subway, the long workouts and the stress of playing basketball at the level they were playing while trying to get an education at the same time. William Gates and Arthur Agee were no longer just two kids dreaming of playing in the NBA, they were examples of the lengths one will go through to follow their dreams. You really get this from the book without having seen the movie first.

Ben Joravsky is a journalist who lives in Chicago and followed this story quite closely. I'm not sure if anyone I know has a feel for what it is like to live in inner-city Chicago but Joravsky does a good job of taking us there with the printed word. The only challenge to the book is you need to get away from the fact it was a documentary first. So technically, the book will never stand on its own. In 1994, Hoop Dreams the documentary was originally intended to be a 30 minute short for PBS but it led to 5 years of filming and 250 hours of footage. Even Siskel and Ebert named Hoop Dreams the best film of 1994. According to Ebert, it was also the best film of the decade. So this is the history and weight of the story before it was ever written down and packaged for us to read.

I don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't read it yet but this is my disclaimer and the reason I tell you the week before what book we'll be discussing. Through the whole story, I am really hoping Gates and Agee make it to the NBA and realize all their dreams after all they have been through. Neither of the boys actually play professional basketball. This is the one thing the book has and the movie doesn't - the epilogue. I think what is so special about this book (and the epilogue helps you realize this) is that there is life after having hoop dreams. Both Agee and Gates enjoyed their own successes in life after their dreams of playing in the NBA never materialized. They took the money they made from the film and bought better homes. Arthur Agee created a foundation to help kids like him pursue an education while living in Chicago's inner city. William Gates is now a senior pastor at a community centre in Cabrini Green, Chicago where he works with a kids' club there. Anyone who is a fan of basketball, needs to read this book. It will help you realize what the rookies who are not the Rajon Rondos or Lebron James of the NBA, go through. Let's face it. Not all of them make it. But after reading Hoop Dreams, you wish William Gates and Arthur Agee did - even if it's just a little. Thanks Mom for giving me this book. It changed the way I look at the NBA and other professional sports - a must read.

Flick Pick of the Week

Assuming now you have read the book Hoop Dreams, you can go ahead and watch the documentary. But my flick pick of the week is "Finding Forrester" directed by Gus Van Sant. Rob Brown plays Jamal Wallace who gets invited to play basketball and go to this private high school. Sean Connery plays William Forrester, an older writer who keeps to himself and becomes Jamal's friend. Jamal's teacher will really nag at your sensibilities but their exchanges help paint the picture that basketball players are intelligent both on and off the court. One of the coolest parts about this movie happened before production even started. The producers wanted a young kid who could act alongside Sean Connery and play basketball hardcore, so they did open casting calls at various schools. They found Rob Brown and the rest is history. Next week, we will be discussing the book Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth. A great read after having Hoop Dreams under your belt, especially with the NBA draft next week. Happy reading and see you next Thursday.

Who is in town this Thrusday?

More workouts for the Raptors as we are a week away from draft day. An international player and a couple wildcats on the draft workout menu. In total 6 players pay a visit to the Raptors practice floor.

Thomas Heurtel (G) 6-2 France

Eric Bledsoe (G) 6-2 Kentucky

Xavier Henry (G) 6-7 Kansas

Paul George (F) 6-9 Fresno State

Tyler Wilkerson (F) 6-8 Marshall

Patrick Patterson (F) 6-9 Kentucky

Raptors will be having a free agent camp on Friday and Saturday. When we get info on who will be at that will provide it for you. I will be talking with Jack Armstrong Friday afternoon so look for that interview to be be up sometime Friday night. We will be talking about the draft mostly and what he expects the Raptors to do and his thoughts on some of their options in the draft.


Starting 5- Count Down To Draft Day

I know the NBA Finals are not even done, but believe it or not the NBA Draft is a week from tomorrow. To get us prepared for the draft I will be talking with a number of folks. I started last week talking with Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog.We talk about a number of topics related to this upcoming draft. From John Wall to Evan Turner. Ed has planned on going to Vegas for Summer League, if he does I am going to hook up with him again to see what he thinks of the Raptors. We discuss the Raptors draft options at number 13 as well. It is a lengthy chat that I hope you will enjoy. Later this week going to talk with both Ray Bala from CanBall Report on Raptors HQ and Jack Armstrong who is from all things Basketball and the Fan 590 and TSN. Those interviews will focus on the draft as well.

We start with Ed with just some general talk about NBA Draft and draft websites.

In Part 2 we talk just about the Raptors with a little more info on NBA Draft Blog.

Ed can be found on Twitter as well @NBADraftBlog . Thanks to Ed for taking time to talk with us and we may hook up again as I said. But for now just 8 days to draft day. We will do are best to prepare for something that you can not really ever prepare for fully in the NBA Draft.


Vegas Baby Vegas!!!

The Toronto Raptors will once again be taking part in Vegas Summer League in July. They will play 5 games in all and here is the schedule of those games. The times are all local Las Vegas Time.

July 10th- vs Suns 1pm at Cox Pavilion

July 13th- vs Houston 3:30 pm at Thomas & Mack Center

July 14- vs New York 3:00 pm at Cox Pavilion

July 16th- vs Sacramento 3:00pm at Cox Pavilion

July 17th- vs New Orleans 3:30pm at Thomas & Mack Center

For a complete schedule with all the games and time use this link. The NBA draft will be next Thursday if you were unaware.

"Jiggly Bits"

It's a shame. It's a real shame there is even debate surrounding the vuvuzela and the World Cup. Who new knew a long, plastic instrument rich in tradition and culture could stir up so much controversy? Think of our traditional celebrations in the NBA Finals and what would happen if they were banned. How about those little squiggle things handed out to fans who sit behind the net? They are meant to be waved vigorously in an attempt to distract the opposition and cause them to miss a free throw. I don't think the NBA players really take this as a serious threat because really, is a little squiggle (for lack of a better word for it) going to throw off a professional basketball player who is being paid millions to make that free throw? I know this is not the same as the vuvuzela but the same arguments are being made by players and broadcasters about its buzzing sound being distracting. In the world of broadcasting and professional sports, what do you do when you are faced with a challenge? Complain about it, or accept it and find a way to work around it? I would take the latter. I bet you Phil Jackson is telling the same thing to his Lakers tonight as they take on the Boston Celtics - a team that seems to have a working bag of tricks that will explode at any minute. Let's look ahead to tonight's game, talk about Tom Izzo's decision and possible steroid use in the NBA.

Shrek and Donkey should stay in the movies

Man oh man. The Boston Celtics are putting on quite a show. They are posting wins by rebounding and playing strong defensively. The Lakers need to win these battles or the NBA Finals will slip away from them. Notice how I didn't mention scoring? I still believe it will go to game seven. The Lakers have the talent and depth. But let's go with the trend of comparing NBA players to movie characters and talk about Alvin and the Chipminks: Lamar Odum, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. If there are any X factors in tonight's game it will be these three. Odum and Artest have not been consistent and if the Lakers are going to win rebounds and the little battles, these two need to step it up a notch. Andrew Bynum is really favouring that knee of his and there is this constant talk about draining it or how it will perform under pressure. He is becoming a growing concern. The Lakers need to come out with guns blazing like game one of this series or tonight will be their last game of the 2010 NBA season.

It's hard sometimes to think of these NBA superstars as regular people with everyday challenges like the rest of us. Part of it is trying to relate to making millions of dollars to play basketball. With this this lack of connection, these players are put on another level as if they are not human. But I think if you look at other professional sports, the NBA is possibly the most accessible and it's players seem the most human. I am sure there are athletes in other sports that are tweeting things something like Chris Bosh did the other day, "At my Aunts for a barbeque". I like that part about him. In the NBA, you can sit court side, up close and personal to the players and actually see their athleticism. This is not to say that football and hockey players are not showing their athleticism by nature of the equipment they need to wear for their chosen sport. I play hockey and will tackle football in the coming year (NWFL here I come), so I realize the rigors one has to go through as an athlete in these sports. But there is just something so beautiful about a game that is just you, a basketball and the uniform of the club you play for. I think about that when I hear stories about Ray Allen missing Saturday's media session for a "family matter". It could be related to his son. His son was diagnosed with diabetes during the 2008 Finals and nearly missed game 6 to go be with him. Or how Derek Fisher was seen wearing a pink bracelet during game 5 of this series to pay tribute to his daughter Tatum who developed eye cancer at a very young age. She's doing great now apparently. It makes them seem like real people and not just millionaires playing a beautiful game.

"Should I stay or should I go now?" A not-so familiar Izzo tune

Tom Izzo is one of those guys who truly loves his job and is genuine in his comments. He has been very appologetic to the media about not commenting on the possibility of coaching the Cavs. He really cares about the "kids" (as he puts it) at Michigan State University and he seems truly torn about the decision he has to make. Rightfully so. He's Michigan State University's all-time winningest coach and has a 364-146 record in 15 seasons with this team. But think about it. Why would he leave all this, all the accolades and love for the Cleveland Caveliers if Lebron James will not be in his line-up? This is what I'm thinking the hold-up is. There are also reports of Byron Scott, a former Laker, being a back-up plan in the event Tom Izzo declines the Cavs' offer. Byron Scott is also rumoured to be waiting to see what Phil Jackson will do at the end of the season. Everyone seems to be in wait and see mode. It is going to be an interesting summer, that's for sure.


Let's be honest. Somewhere in the NBA someone is taking or at least dabbled in performance enhancing drugs. Players in just about every other sport have been known to test positive at least once in a while, so let's not pretend it doesn't happen in professional basketball. With all the controversy surrounding the suspension University of Waterloo Football program and nine of its players deemed guilty of using performance enhancing drugs, made me think what is being done in the NBA for those young players looking to sustain a career in this league. I found my answer linked to Derek Fisher - his mother, Annette. When she's not cheering for the Los Angeles Lakers and obviously rooting for her son Derek, she dedicates some her time to an organization called "Mothers of Professional Basketball Players". This is a group that hosts discussions around the time of the NBA draft in an effort to help incoming players and their families adjust to life in the NBA. They set up a panel to talk about real-life situations and try to share some of the good and not-so good elements of playing professional basketball. With all the media attention and contracts aside, for a young kid possibly as young as 19 years old (and sometimes younger), moving away from home and having to deal with the everyday pressures their parents usually took care of, can be disheartening. The temptation to take performance enhancing drugs to advance their careers and sustain a lifestyle may be great since family involvement in their career up until this point may have been that voice of reason. I wonder if a "Mothers of Canadian University Football Players" group would have adverted a potential nightmare at Waterloo University. It is scary to think the pressure to perform on a professional level exists at the amateur level.

Books, Movies and Basketball

Don't forget to check in with the DNB on Thursday when our new feature "Books, Movies and Basketball" will be starting and lead by yours truly. Our first discussion will be about "Hoop Dreams" by Ben Joravsky. If you haven't read it yet, you still have time. It took me a day and a half to complete since I couldn't put it down. It is still my favourite book of all time. I will also suggest a movie for your weekend viewing pleasure with a basketball theme, of course. This week's choice comes from a long list of favourites. You'll have to tune in Thursday to find out.

Tuesday's Draft Workouts Feature Whiteside

Toronto Raptors continue with draft workouts in preparation for the NBA Draft in just over a week. Hassan Whiteside leads a group of 4 players to hit the practice floor at the ACC.

Hassan Whiteside
7ft (Center) Marshall
Solomon Alabi 7ft 1(Center) Florida State
Dominique Jones 6ft 5 (Guard) South Florida
Lance Stephenson 6ft 6(Guard) Cincinnati

Raptors will have more workouts Thursday and Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky may be part of that group. Will have to wait and see. NBA draft goes next Thursday if you can believe it. Game 6 of the NBA Finals goes tonight.


Thoughts For A Not So Manic Monday

I apologize for getting a bit lazy and not getting the blog up Friday. I have got interested in the World Cup a little bit. I am not really a soccer fan but for whatever reason every 4 years seem to get interested in what the fuss is all about. Later this summer Canada will be in the FIBA not FIFA World Championships in Turkey. In fact Canada is going to have a team in all 4 levels of the World Championships. A great accomplishment for Canada Basketball. While Canada in soccer has made the Women's World Cup several times but only been to the male version only once in 1986 in Mexico. So one could argue our basketball future seems a lot brighter than our soccer future in this country. A bunch of things to get to today. I also have to get that interview up with Ed from NBA Draft Blog. It along with hopefully interviews with Ray Bala and Jack Armstrong should make their way into the blog this weekend.

Watch Canada's Future Tonight At ACC

The All Canadian Classic gets rolling at the ACC tonight with the best young ladies and men in the sport taking the ACC floor. Women get going at 5pm and the Men go at 7pm. It is the basket high school talent from around the country on court. It is for lack of a better comparison, the Canadian version of the McDonald's All American game that Raptors Demar DeRozan and many other top NBA Stars have played in. Tristian Thompson and Cory Joesph both heading to Texas played in that game this year representing the red and white of Canada. Here is an interview from Draft Express with the two from that game.

They won't be playing tonight but lots of great young Canadian kids will and the cost is only 10 bucks to get in. Well worth spending the money and time on a Monday Night in Toronto.

Raps Work Out Kids And Free Agents This Week

The Toronto Raptors will be back at it in terms of working out rookies this week. Will have a list of who is coming when the Raptors make it available. But according to Holly Mackenzie we could be seeing another Wildcat getting to know Canada. Eric Bledsoe of the Wildcats is expected to be here this week. Raptors also announced they will be holding a free agent camp as they have in past in the B.C era. That will be taking place on Friday and Saturday. The most famous thing of those camps is the discovery of Jamario Moon. Raptors could have a lot of holes to fill depending on how the summer goes. Will see if the Raptors end up finding a diamond in the rough.

Young Guns Have Invaded Toronto

Sonny Weems, Demar DeRozan and Amir Johnson along with Jarrett Jack all are in town working out in Toronto. The most positive thing in that is Amir Johnson is part of that group. Johnson is free agent and could go elsewhere. At least it this is a sign that he likes Toronto and would not be against staying. That being said Chris Bosh spent a ton of time in the city last summer and it hasn't stopped from him likely departing this summer. Still nice to see some of the players back in the city during the off-season.

4 Times I Got Rondoed?

I have not picked the Boston Celtics to win in any series these playoffs. After last season nailing the playoffs with in a game in the pre-season. These playoffs have not been kind to me. My pick to win the title is praying LBJ comes back and apparently trying to to steal Tom Izzo away from beautiful East Lansing to go to even more beautiful Cleveland. Nate Robinson has suddenly become a cult hero along with Big Baby. Shrek and Donkey are making me feel a jack@$$. If I am this upset about being wrong on a silly prediction, imagine how Kobe Bryant feels? The Lakers are not dead yet but they got a much tougher test from Boston then I figured they would.

Rajon Rondo should be the finals M.V.P if the Celtics should win. It has been a strange series in which the Celtics have been carried by their defense and been wildly in consistent on offense. You never know what your going to get and from who. The series shifts back to L.A for game 6 and 7 and Lakers will be happy about that. The Boston crowd went over the edge a bit last night. Which is to bad, because aside from that incident in which a small bottle was thrown narrowly missing Lamar Odom, the crowd was being a huge positive factor on the game. They were helping the Celtics and getting behind them and urging them on to victory.

Ron Artest has become the Black Hole in Phil's Triangle Offense. Lakers need some zen like advice and Kobe good old fashion yelling. Lakers have run out of tomorrows and need to beat Boston not once but twice. At least they will have chance to do it in more friendly surroundings