This should make you laugh. So it is Friday night and the Denver Nuggets are preparing for a pre-season match-up with the Portland Trail Blazers. Fifteen minutes before tip-off, Nuggets Head Coach George Karl realizes he has two right shoes. Poor guy. It is his first game back from going through throat cancer treatment and literally, starts off on the wrong foot. His team ends up taking this one from Portland 109-99, so the shoes really didn't matter. It's what he said about being back that stuck out for me, "...but there's a peacefulness to being back there and listening to the chatter and interacting with players and coaches and some fans". Sometimes this is better than the chemo or any other treatment the oncologist will throw at you. A friend of mine just told me his lung cancer has spread to his back and he will be in the hospital soon for more treatments. He thinks the same way Coach Karl does. Feeling the love and affection from those around you and choosing to be real (CHOOSE being the operative word) and living life in a positive way helps you fight this disease. For REAL. So if anyone out there is battling cancer or knows someone who is, realize it can be scary but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes you might feel like you have two right feet like Coach Karl but you are not alone. And hey, if basketball is your distraction, you are in good company, my friend. Let's talk Turkey, Raptors and something that disturbs me about the Denver Nuggets marketing strategy.
A Sad Turkey in Philly
It's a real shame when you take time away from your job and come back to realize you don't have one anymore. There has to more to it than to be "seemingly unwanted" by the NBA when it comes to Allen Iverson. Maybe rosters are full, clubs committed to other players or the dreaded and overused "going in a different direction". At the end of the day, Allen Iverson is still a great basketball player no matter what his problems were off the court. (As long as they don't become a distraction on the court). His heart is with the NBA but in the interest of playing the game he loves, is seriously considering a move to Turkey. I know we've talked about a move overseas for Iverson before but it just feels awkward for someone like him not to being playing in the NBA. Iverson had been negotiating a deal with China and those talks aren't dead yet but Turkey is looking like his best option since their season is starting soon. Remember, he's 35 years old and after he was drafted number one in 1996, spent 10 years in a Philadelphia uniform, is a 4-time scoring champion and it wasn't until a stint with Memphis and a return to Philly did Iverson really deal with on and off the court issues. Why wouldn't the Toronto Raptors be willing to take a one-year contract with him and roll the dice? They have nothing to loose. It's just pains me to see someone with his talent possibly leaving the NBA.
History Makes a Pattern
So the Toronto Raptors are in Chicago tonight ready to take on the Bulls. Barring a look at Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah or Kyle Korver, the history of these two teams playing each other seems to land in the Raptors' favour. Think back to their last two games. On December 5, 2009, Toronto came out strong in the first quarter with over double the amounts of points Chicago had (37-16) and managed to hang onto an edge in quarters 3 and 4 to win the contest 110-78. This was done with Chris Bosh in the line-up and managing 25 points and 12 rebounds on the night - with 13 of those points coming in the first quarter alone. Now switch to April 11th, 2009 in Toronto. Now it's Derrick Rose with a game-high 26 points, leading his team to a 104-88 victory over the Raptors. Chicago was only up by five points in the first quarter (28-23) but took two of the three following quarters. What does this tell you? When these two clubs meet, the team who comes out strong and plays strong for 3 of 4 quarters will win the contest. Especially true for the Raptors who are trying to gain every bit of an edge they can. I don't know that Jarret Jack or Leandro Barbosa will put up the points they did against Boston Sunday night because that would mean the Raptors are becoming consistent and free of living under Bosh's shadow. Give them time. Before the play was "get it to Bosh". Now they seem to be playing the floor more and working together as a team. Let's be serious for a second. No one thought the Boston Celtics would have been in the 2010 NBA Final the way they played the regular season and look what they did. Maybe you would be pressed to find a Nate Robinson or a Rajon Rondo type of player on the Raptors roster or maybe I am having an extremely optimistic Tuesday. I am starting to think Chris Bosh leaving the Raptors was the best thing for the team as a whole. I enjoy Chris Bosh as a player and will support and watch him play for Miami but he needed to leave. Players like Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozen, Jarret Jack are on highlight-of the-night packs and the first players people want to talk about now. This is good. The next thing the Raptors need to do is play with confidence and to be aggressive right out of the gate - no holding back. No casually jogging back to defend, no third or fourth quarter break-downs in transition. None of that. Stare the three Miami Kings in the face and plow through the rest of the NBA. Because really, they have nothing to loose.
Can't stand the Heat? Get out of Denver.
As much as I support LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh playing together, the novelty is starting to wear off. But apparently not in Denver. The Denver Nuggets marketing department needs to give their collective heads a shake. Instead promoting the product they have, to sell tickets they are promoting the Miami Heat: "10-Game Fan Plan - See The Miami Heat Free". Woulld you go into a job interview and say "Hire me because my neighbour is awesome?" No. This floors me. By including the Miami Heat in their marketing campaign they are essentially saying two things. One, the Miami Heat are more exciting to watch than us. Two, we have no confidence our product can sell itself. If I were the Miami Heat, I'd be asking for royalties.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday for our last "Basketball Beyond the Floor" of the season. Starting next week, a new feature called "Behind Enemy Lines" will take it's place. This new feature will take at look at the Raptor's opponents for the coming week. Until this Thursday, happy reading.