DNB Fan Zone: Raptors Red Party Remix

Hey Raptors Fans!

I know this is late but better late than never!

Jevon and I went to the Raptors Red Party Remix back in late January, or as I would like to call it: my last encounter with Ed Davis as a Raptor.

The Ballroom Bowl had two floors of fun. The main floor had bowling lanes and pool tables. The upper level had a photo section, a ping pong table, the main stage and the big bar.

Matt Devlin came out with the welcoming address and the introduction of the players. After that, the boys went to each of their little sections that they were placed to entertain. Ed Davis was at the ping pong tables. Terrence Ross was at the pool tables. Amir Johnson, John Lucas III and Landry Fields were at the bowling lanes.

My personal highlight of the night was playing Ed Davis at ping pong. Honestly, I’m not that great at ping pong but I tried my best anyway! A clip of it will be in the video below! Many Raptors tweeters were out and about that night and it was great to see all of their faces:
@RyanJHTurvey + his lovely wife
…and more!

Yes, the video includes a little bit about how we will be at the Raptors vs. Grizzlies game (which is already up in the blog) but our message is still valid! When we are at Raptors games we will be going around talking to the fans so if you are there and so are we, come and talk with us! We’d love to have more Raptors fans in our videos so come and be a part of the DNB Fan Zone!

We have a new You-Tube Channel to so subscribe there for all the latest videos from the DNB. We have big plans for adding lots more video stuff for the DNB so stay tuned.


Starting 5: With Jack Armstrong

It is always a pleasure for us to talk with Jack Armstrong. Today's conversation with Jack illustrates all the reasons we love having him on as a guest. We get the passion that Jack has for the game of basketball and the frank honesty that we have come to expect. We have lengthy chats about the addition of Rudy Gay to the Raptors. Talk of how things have gone wrong with Andrea Bargnani and his fractured relationship with the fanbase. Also talk of many of parts of this Raptors roster. It was a wonderful conversation that I have no doubt people will enjoy it. This really is one of my favorite interviews we have done with Jack and I am positive you will feel the same after listening. It is an in depth look at where the Raptors are at and where they are heading that I think you will enjoy.

It is always a great thrill to talk with Jack and it is a pleasure to have him as a guest with us here in the Dino Nation Blog. It will be an interesting stretch to this Raptors season and at the end of the day, the Raptors are in the position where most people thought they would be. It has been a strange and whacky ride to get there. However it plays out, we will have Jack Armstrong back to discuss it and we are grateful for that. Raptors take on the Cavs tonight looking to bounce back from a terrible effort vs the Wizards.

We will be holding a party with the folks at St.Louis Wings on April 6th for the Raptors game vs the Bucks which could mean a lot if the Raptors are going to be in the playoff race. If not it will be our year end party. either way we would like to see you come out to 595 Bay St and join us for some fun. 


Starting 5 With Sam Holako From Raptors Republic

This episode of the Starting 5 has literally been something we have been trying to do off and on for about two years. Sam Halako is one of the fine folks from over on Raptors Republic who I enjoy talking with and consider one of my friends in the blogging world. We have a lot of mutual respect for each other and actually over the years have shared a lot of the same opinions on the Toronto Raptors. Finally we were able to get are schedules to work to hook up to do a podcast together. We talk about a lot of general topics in the 20 minutes or so we chat. First and foremost the impact of Rudy Gay on the Raptors. Other subjects include the future of Bryan Colangelo, what to make of the current state of affairs with Andrea Bargnani and if the Raptors are indeed playoff contenders or pretenders at this point.

If you didn't know already you can follow Sam on Twitter @Rapsfan and catch his work in the Raptors Republic as he does the Morning Coffee pieces with all of the Raptor news from around the net including on occasion from here in the Dino Nation Blog. He has been part of Raptors Republic I believe from almost the start and does great things for them. In addition, he has always been so kind to praise me for my hard work and dedication. The truth is all of us in the blogging community work very hard and I don't think any of us are getting rich from it. At the core we love what we do. It is thanks to all the great people that read our sites that make this something worthwhile to do at the end of the day. I look forward to doing this again and bringing the Madness and the Mania of the Raptors blogging world together again.

 If you are unable to listen or download this here then head over to our podcast home and listen or download it there on Itunes or other formats.Tomorrow another edition of The Starting 5 with.....Jack Armstrong.

Wizards Make The Raptors' Playoff Talk Vanish

We stressed how important it was for the Raptors to win the games they are suppose to win if they are to truly become part of the playoff race. It didn’t happen last night at the ACC. It started with a first quarter in which despite being close made you want to find the remote and see what else was on. It was 17-16 Wizards at the end of the first.

The Wizards would pull away a bit during the second quarter as the Raptors offense was still in a deep freeze after shooting just 33.3% in the first it was not much better in the second. Rudy Gay had been made to disappear by the Wizards. So much so that Andrea Bargnani who had been scoreless in the last two games had more points than him on the night.

Gay would finish with a 1-11 night from the field and just 7 points as Bargnani had just 8 points going 4-11 from the field. Aside from DeMar DeRozan few other Raptors showed up to this rare Monday night affair at the ACC. He had 25 points on the night and Lowry 18 as the only Raptors to reach double digits. Amir Johnson benefited the most from all the Raptor and Wizards misses with 13 rebounds.

The fans had started talking playoffs as the Raptors had climbed their way up to ninth in the east entering the night 4 games back of the idle Milwaukee Bucks who the Raptors will see on the weekend.

It was an uninspired and lacklustre effort on the part of the Raptors losing 90-84 to the Wizards. They did come alive in the second half to score 52 points. They lacked the lockdown defense to go with it as the Wizards would score 50 themselves in the second half.

For long-time Raptor fans they come to expect as typical, just when you start to give the team some credit they come up with a performance like this. Raptors will need to figure it out as they travel to Cleveland for a game tomorrow with the Cavs who are cellar dwellers like the Wizards.

A couple episodes of the Starting 5 coming up for your listening enjoyment in the next 24 hours. Jack Armstrong will be one of the guests and the second will be on of my fellow members of the blogging community as Bryan Colangelo likes to call us.


This Week In Raptorland: Basketball & Boo Birds

So another week in the books and what a week it was. We had Matt Devlin get a feud with a Rapper. Andrea Bargnani face the music of boos at the ACC. Raptors win 2 out of 3 this week a long the way and than news today someone on the roster is going be a dad. Far from your typical week in Raptorland for sure so let's get too it. Myself and Josh Lewenberg for your listening pleasure.

Josh referenced his contribution to an article on TSN.CA here is a link to that if you care to check it out. Also, as I mentioned Jack Armstrong will be joining us in The Starting 5 and another video from Jerrica and Jevon looking back on the Raptors Red Party will be out this week.

As always if you have trouble listening or downloading here you can head over to our podcast host and do so there. Raptors in action Monday night vs the Wizards.


DNB Fan Zone: Raptors vs Grizzlies

I have been saying for a long time that the Dino Nation Blog was going to get more into audio and video. The process to that has been slow but it is finally starting to take shape. We have been doing This Week In Raptorland our weekly Podcast with myself and Josh Lewenberg. Which I hope people are enjoying I know we are in doing it for you.

Now this is another step in that road to a more multi-media DNB. Raptors took on the Grizzlies at the ACC on Wednesday and Ed Davis #1 fan Jerrica was not going to miss that one. To keep her mind off the fact Ed was in another team's jersey we sent her out to talk to some of you at the game and get your thoughts on the Raptors. She is joined by her camera man Jevon as they found some folks to talk with. So have a look.

That was pretty good job from our DNB crew. They also were wondering around the Raptors Red Party and will have that video for you next week likely on Tuesday. This is just the start of hopefully a lot more video stuff we will be doing going forward. You may even see my ugly mug. We also will try and do some stuff with Candice too. We has some plans in the works and we hope to get a lot of them started this season and build on them for next year. So be on the lookout for us at Games and Raptors events and come be a part of the shows. I am very excited to get this stuff finally going. I hope it is just the start of exciting new things for the DNB.


Boos To Cheers As Gay Leads Raptors Over Knicks Again

I want to start this recap by giving some credit to Paul Jones who I spoke with via twitter in the afternoon. He said this would be a close game and he was right. I thought we would see a hungry and determined Knicks team. We did see that but it took till about the mid-point of the third quarter for that to happen.

What I did have right is that the Raptor fan base would make their thoughts perfectly clear on how they feel about Andrea Bargnani still being a Raptor. Boy did they ever booing him at every single opportunity he gave them to do so. Even in some where he really didn’t. This is not going away, so for those of you that choose to not accept this fact be my guest. That said, tonight was probably the worst it will be. Assuming he is not back to start next season. If he is that might be worse…in fact much worse.

I will not deny it does nothing to help the situation with Bargnani and any hope of his improvement. That said, this is freedom of speech and the paying customer making a comment on the product they are being presented. Maybe it is because of my love of wrestling that I understand this more than many of my respected media colleagues I am not sure. Still, some media and fans like the WWE does with John Cena refuse to accept that a majority of the audience does not accept him. That is the simple reality.

Where the comparison stops is Cena also has a loyal fan base that cheer him and try with all their mite to be louder than his detractors. Even the supporters of Bargnani are not foolish enough to try and lose their voice or waste it. Bargnani’s reaction to this has been to produce next to nothing. He scores 0 points with 0 rebounds in just 12 minutes on the floor. It proves a point for both sides. For the people that boo him they see it as see this is why we boo this bum. The people that support him see the bad people booing him as part of the problem. Which they are in fact right, Andrea Bargnani has had 6 years to win these people over and he has failed miserably. The fact some people feel sorry for him based on all of this is silly to me. This is the same guy that makes 10 million a season and said this team at start of the year was the worst in the league. Funny, how they are not anymore, with little influence from him on the club and its fate.   Maybe that is part of why they are booing him too. The other reason is they can’t really boo who ultimately is responsible beyond Bargnani and that is Bryan Colangelo.

However, B.C might be saving his job and his reputation with fans by his move to acquire Rudy Gay. This guy is a lot of things Andrea Bargnani is not. At the top of that list is a leader. He fully accepts and embraces that role. Another one he embraces is being the man down the stretch of games.

The Raptors led this game for most of the night until the third quarter where a 13 point lead was established and would eventually vanish into thin air. If this was a game in November before Gay came on the scene there would be a collective sigh and here we go again. This is not the case anymore. The Raptors still had fight in them and would not just let this thing slip away. That effort was led and inspired by Rudy Gay.

This is what a leader does. Fans have been sold a bill of goods for years about Bosh being a leader and than Jose Calderon...Andrea Bargnani and even DeMar DeRozan. None of them were and Rudy Gay is.

Kyle Lowry feeds off this too and his hero act works far more effectively with Gay along for the ride. Lowry would make a big bucket down the stretch as a switch from Gay making the majority. Another guy feeding of this is DeMar DeRozan who has benefited far more from Gay’s presence than Andrea Bargnani’s spacing.

Oh and all those fans that were so mean booing the hard done by Andrea Bargnani, know how to cheer too and did so down the stretch of this game. I saw many comments on Twitter about the great passion from the fans in the forth. Passion is a two way street. That same passion is in boos sent in the direction of Bargnani. So please try not to be too much of hypocrite if you praise the fans for being so good for the forth quarter and so bad for booing Bargnani. You want passion that is the price you pay for it.

The Raptors would pull it out in the late stages powered by in a sense Andrea Bargnani and Vince Carter’s replacement Rudy Gay with 32 points going 11-23 from the field. DeRozan had 18 and Lowry 15 in support. Jonas Valanciunas had just 3 points but hustled to get 10 rebounds. This is part of the problem with Andrea Bargnani if he doesn’t score he basically does nothing else to help his team win. He is essentially a dead man walking on the floor.

In the end it was a spirited night at the ACC and the good guys won the game 100-98 and have earned at least a season series split ironically enough with the Atlantic Division leading and second in the Eastern Conference New York Knicks. 

Looking Ahead To Bargnani's Future and Other Things

Today could be my favourite day of the annual NBA Calendar: The day after NBA Trade Deadline. Not to evaluate all the great trades that happened. Which based on yesterday amounted to a total of maybe one made by the team the Raptors chase, the Milwaukee Bucks. It is the end to the constant rumour mill that some sites make a living off on the internet. In the end all their rumours and bluster amounted to next to nothing. It is the case more often than not.

The end result if we cut though everything in my opinion is the Bucks got better in the deal they made with the Magic. The attention to match the big game changer type move the Raptors made by acquiring Rudy Gay with targeting Josh Smith. That didn’t work but for very little in terms of their short term they add some much needed 3 point punch to their line-up with J.J Redick. The Raptors move to get Sebastian Telfair is just insurance and a look at a player to consider as the long term back-up. I would suspect we only see him to April and never again. The Raptors paid very little to get that done. They were rumoured to be looking at other options like Eric Maynor from the Thunder but ultimately the Thunder went a different direction.

All that said the key figure people were focused on was Andrea Bargnani. If we are to believe David Aldridge who is one of the more respected NBA Insiders working for TNT/NBA TV the market for Bargnani had dried up over a week ago and it never was even in the mix for the Raptors to move him yesterday.

Now you are left with a fan base that I would estimate is 60/40 in wanting Bargnani gone and he isn’t. That said of the 40 that still support him I would venture to say that support is not all that strong for most of them. The 60 percent that are against him are much more passionate about what they believe and no doubt Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors will hear from them in the stands and on the internet for the rest of the year and heading into next off-season.

 Going into yesterday I never expected Bargnani to move but a couple things about yesterday have me deeply concerned if you can move him in the off-season. The fact that there were no discussions about him leading up to the deadline at all is first. That makes me question the Raptors assertion that there is interest in Andrea Bargnani. I question if there is based on the lack of activity and the rumoured deals that were on the table prior to that. It seemed the only interest there was from teams looking to unload contracts that are worse than his. Boozer at the top of that list in Chicago with the biggest and worst contract of all.

This leads to my second concern. PLT: Punitive Luxury Tax is likely the biggest factor in why we saw a dud of a trade deadline day around the league. In the new CBA the PLT kicks in this off-season and teams were clearly aware of that in the moves they made and didn’t make yesterday. It makes the idea of adding the 10 million dollars a season plus a trade kicker that comes with getting Andrea Bargnani not a very appealing idea if you are concerned about your cap number and the PLT.

Andrea Bargnani could turn all of this, if he played well in a role off the bench. That doesn’t seem likely and if he struggles and the game occurs at the ACC like tonight against the Knicks he will hear from the people that want him gone in the form of boos. No speech on the radio from Coach Casey or appeal from anyone is going to stop these fans from expressing their opinion in the form of boos. It just isn’t going to happen. The more you tell them not to do this likely the louder and more dedicated it becomes.
Don’t believe that? How many articles appeals and energy has been wasted on two things involving fan reaction in terms of Vince Carter and Pizza. While the Raptors could solve their Pizza problem by pulling the plug or changing the promotion they have not done that. Many folks have pled for fans to come to their sense about this issue including me with honestly no success. The same type of thing has been done about booing Vince Carter yet the fans still do it and likely always will.
Bargnani like Carter has worn out his welcome with enough fans that there is little that can be done to turn that situation around.

As for the game tonight the Knicks should be very hungry for some revenge and the key match-up of the night should be Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony as we likely see Gay match-up with him at the 4 as he did in New York. I expect the Knicks to get their revenge and pound the Raptors.

In a thing I thought I would never see. Matt Devlin has made his way to the TMZ website as a result of this whole Wale nonsense. I truly can’t believe this whole thing has been as big as it has become and it is all just so stupid. I didn’t know who Wale was either. What I know now is he seems to be a pretty insecure punk and if that is what you our why on earth did you get into rap music? I have never heard a Wale track and likely never will. What I did hear was TBJ having some funny with all this if you have yet to see their little rap anthem taking up the side of Matt Devlin in a pretty funny way….go see it.

That is a Rap for me not much of a preview for tonight as we already have talked a lot about this match-up last week and not much has changed. Rumour has it that Telfair will sport Doug Christie’s old number 13 and the number that Steve Nash would have worn had things gone differently in the summer.


Deadline Day Blog (Updated Throughout The Day)

I don't really have much thoughts on last night's loss to the Grizzlies. It was not unexpected by me and on Twitter I pointed out the Z-Bo would be the big issue not Gay or Davis. Zach Randolph with his 17 points and 17 rebounds made that seem pretty smart. I bet some morning show hosts could not have been that wise. Wait what was that about? Maybe if yo have been following my Twitter that will make sense. In any case will leave that for you to solve. The Raptors did not solve the Grizzlies as they lost 88-82.

Highlight of the night was DeMar DeRozan getting a ball stuck in the scoreboard....That no on could have seen coming not even me.

As for the deadline today.....most people desperately want to say so long and good riddance to Andrea Bargnani. I am one of them but this is where my brain kicks in and spoils it for everyone. Given the climate out there it seems HIGHLY unlikely we see Bargnani move today. If we did it likely would be in a terrible trade money wise for this club that would handcuff them badly. As much as it pains me to say it waiting for the off-season might be the best course of action.

Bryan Colangelo quickly back tracked when he promised more to come after the Rudy Gay trade. I would suggest you might see Hamed Haddadi released and Raptors go get the best PG they can find not currently in the NBA if they fail to do anything today. If they do anything it likely is secure a legit back-up point guard. If Kyle Lowry were to be injured this team would be in serious trouble. One interesting name would be Cory Joesph from the Spurs but hey still are high on him and that is probably me with a bit of Andrew Wiggins hangover.

Whatever happens I will provide updates as need me throughout the day. I expect a quiet day overall....If there is one big name to move the smart money for me is it will be Josh Smith. Will see what happens and also watch what the Bucks and Celtics do and if they finally put to bed this dream of a Raptors playoff push. 

Update: 9:45 AM
Here is the likely trade with a 2nd round pick going to Suns as well. No Marbury in the deal as a family bonus. That is your first update of the day.

Update 10:30

Raptors may only need a second in that reported trade and waive Haddadi.

The bad news for the Raptors is the Bucks are looking to be very active in pursuit of both Josh Smith from the Hawks

and J.J Redick from the Magic they pull this off and you can call it a day for the 8th playoff spot.

Update 11:33

Not a peep of news about Andrea Bargnani....everyone get your shocked faces on. Bucks still in Top 2 for Josh Smith battling with Suns. Hawks would like to deal him to the West but can get a much better deal from Bucks in my opinion. To this point around the league nothing to exciting beyond Smith and Redick they are only major names people are talking about.....back to making you all laugh on the Twitter Machine....hopefully.  

Have yet to mention the Celtics till Now.

If your keeping score on the rumours standings: 1. Bucks 2. Boston 3. Raptors does not a playoff run make. That is all for now.

Here is more on the Raptors minor move and how it will look like at the end of the day.

I know you want Bargnani gone well sometimes life sucks like that.

Update 12:50:

Seems Josh Smith deal may be falling apart....now 50/50 if he will be traded. Raptors deal is still on track....Worst Trade Deadline Day Ever.....Could be. Blame it on Rumours!!!


Don't get to excited Dexter Pittman goes to Grizz from Miami for a pick even less time for Ed Davis?

In other more important news as you may have heard first on our Twitter account we have named the Officially Theme Song for  NBA Trade Deadline 2013:

Call me Maybe? 

Worst Trade Deadline ever is becoming VERY LIKELY!!!!

Oh and Raptors Deal is OFFICIAL according to THIS:

Can it get bigger than this....likely not!!!

No trade update just FUN UPDATE from the Guys at TBJ....Matt Devlin Rap Video.....Oh it is Good:

J.E Skeets would clearly kick my butt in a battle Rap.....LOL.

Waiting for a Bargnani trade? David Aldridge with your COLD SHOWER/ evidence Bargnani might not have value we are snowed into thinking he has:

On the bright side you get to boo him till at least April maybe even next year too!!!


Recap In Rap

Ok so some rapper name Wale became the story of this game....I have not clue who he is but I do know how to bust some rhymes so should we do this? AWWWW YEAH. I couldn't help myself here is the boxscore for this one.

Raptors Start A Series of 4 Games They Need To Win With Wizards

Toronto Raptors kick off a season series in Mid-February against the Washington Wizards. It will be a 4 game season series and this is one of those cases where the Raptors face a tougher version of the Wizards based on the schedule. The Wizards started the season with John Wall and struggled as a result. Wall is back and Wizards while still not a powerhouse are at least better than they were without him. Bradley Beal the Wizards top pick in the draft is starting to develop more as well with having a talented point guard to help better use him in the Wizards offense. Proof of the Wizards improvement is the fact they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They also have a decent home record 11-14. That said the Raptors closed out heading into the All-Star Break winners of 4 and a row. The Raptors are also 5-5 in their last 10 games. What is of concern is their road record of 7-19 on the season. That said, since Rudy Gay arrived the Raptors are a perfect 2-0 on the road and 5-2 overall. The trade deadline also looms and the odds of Raptors being able to unload Andrea Bargnani prior to Thursday seems to be growing less likely as the trade deadline approaches. Bryan Colangelo after the Gay trade promised more to come but quickly back tracked from that comment and it is becoming clear that not just for the Raptors but the league as whole seems to heading to a very dead trade deadline. Franchises seem to be very worried about the new penalties that will kick in with the new CBA that will start this off-season. The price to be a tax-team will become far greater for teams. That becomes a big question for the Raptors going forward. If Toronto truly are committed to being a tax-team and running that risk that goes with that? When you look at the many contracts they have that would be classed as over-valued it seems an almost impossible task to grow this roster without a commitment to be a tax team in at least the short term. If not the Raptors are no doubt improved with Rudy Gay but still are far from being a true contender in the East. Yes, this group could likely get to the playoffs next season if they had it from the start. Is the goal just to return to playoffs or something bigger than that? In any case the road to playoffs this season is still very long indeed. This series with the wizards are 4 games that the Raptors must have and can not afford to slip up. The Raptors need to win all of the games they have left with teams they are capable of beating. The Raptors have a weak schedule to close out the season with a winning percentage of teams below .500. That schedule is easier on the road with remaining opponents having just a .470 winning percentage. So ultimately how the Raptors play on the road should play a big factor in any playoff hopes they still cling too. Make sure to go have a listen to This Week in Raptorland where we talk about a great number of topics including the upcoming trade deadline. Raptors lead the all-time series with the Wizards/Bullets 32-31 but are just 10-21 in games in Washington D.C. The two squads have held serve so to speak for the last two seasons splitting their season series 2-2 with neither team being able to win on the other team’s home floor. The Raptors last win came in 2009 in December with a 109-107 win. They have played in 7 overtime games in the last decade including one last season with the Wizards winning 111-108 which was the last time the Raptors visiting D.C last February.


This Week In Raptorland: Back To Business

On this show we look back on the Dunk Contest won by Terrence Ross. In addition we look to the future and Josh and I were part of the mass amount of media that were out to see Andrew Wiggins play in my hometown of Hamilton. We get into why trade deadline may leave you feeling blue. You need something blue for a wedding and we even had an announcement of one of those. It is an hour long ride as we try to figure out what exactly Family Day is along the way.

Thanks to Josh as always for co-piloting the show and to DeMar and Amir who are always willing guests to talk with. We get back to business tomorrow with the Raptors in action against the Wizards. Also the trade deadline looms and who knows if anything will happen. I make reference to Vince Carter not commenting on Terrence Ross dunk tribute to him it appears he has.

I had not seen this at the time we recorded the podcast. So looks like Vince did reach out to Ross which was the classy thing to do. If you are unable to listen to the podcast here or would like to download it using I-Tunes or other means please head over to our podcast host and do so there.

Andrew Wiggins Is Indeed As Amazing As Advertised

Andrew Wiggins was in my hometown will be the beginning to a story that I will tell 20 years from now God willing. What is said next remains to be seen. If you believe the hype it will be a story about Canada’s greatest basketball player ever. The fact he should be the first Canadian to be picked number one overall in the 2014 draft. Who knows maybe someday he will even come home and play for the Raptors?

I fully admit Terrence Ross winning the slam dunk contest on Saturday night was not the least bit exciting for me. He may have worn Vince Carter’s jersey, but I don’t think he ever will be Vince. On Sunday I was going to see “The Next Big Thing” not that he looks anything like Brock Lesnar. “Canada’s Lebron James” he is filled out for his age but not the mass of humanity that Lebron was in high school. However, it became obvious at the end of the warm-ups that the hype is all justified. Wiggins was unassuming for most of the warm-ups and than he threw down a dunk that put half of last night’s NBA Dunk Contest to shame.

It was just the beginning as Wiggins came out of the gates and looked like he was on his way to beating his 57 point performance from just a week or so ago. That would not be the case though after a couple of dunks that made your jaw drop and a three that looked so easy for him from the high school three point line, he would slow his roll. The great ones seem to have that switch they can turn on and off and you saw that from Wiggins throughout the rest of the afternoon. Every once in a while there was a block or a dunk just to let you know he could do it.

That said, he seemed a lot like Lebron James as high school player in the sense he seemed just as happy to let the others on his team have success. Like his best friend Xavier Rathan-Mayes who if you haven’t heard is already set to go to Florida State. Wiggin’s father and mother also went to FSU as well. Rathan-Mayes told of his friend and his talent that it was “mind boggling.” He continued talking about his friends talents “His athletic ability is something you see once in a lifetime.”

He goes on to praise his work ethic and his humble nature. Wiggins is pretty humble and pretty matter of fact. He is soft spoken and his game talks much louder than anything he had to say in the 15 minutes or so he was thrown in front of a media gathering that was larger than your average Raptor game.

I joked on Twitter that if you covered basketball in Ontario and were not on assignment in Houston for All-Star Weekend you were visiting Hamilton, Ontario. It was a who’s who of Canadian basketball media. It really was good to see not as someone who works in the media, but as a fan of the sport of basketball.  When All-Star Saturday Night is still on TSN 2 and not TSN in favour of curling it gets discouraging.

The first one of these young kids that I got to know was Myck Kabongo who is finally back playing for Texas. I will always say that if kids are talented enough not just because of Myck’s issues with NCAA but growing up with the “Fab 5” of Michigan that you should get out as soon as you can.

Andrew Wiggins could step on a NBA floor next season and I don’t think he would look out of place. He already looks bigger than a rookie DeMar DeRozan who I got to see up in Ottawa at his first camp with the Raptors.

Another thing I learned from getting to know Myck was how many players that he knew from the NBA that would be a phone call away for him if he wanted advice. Andrew Wiggin’s list of those guys is like a hall of fame list that includes Lebron James, Kevin Durant and turned 50 yesterday Michael Jordan.

I can’t imagine at the age of 17 having the ability to talk to such royalty in the sport or business I love. I will be honest I am still amazed Jack Armstrong knows me and is an e-mail or phone call away. This is at my age which is far from the age of 17.

Andrew Wiggins looks to be the most talented of a group of young Canadian basketball players that I am getting to know and many others are as well. There are a few things I find they all have in common.

They have a pride in being Canadian, a sense of responsibility to grow the sport and be role models for the kids younger than them. They also all have a humble nature but despite that have a swagger and are not hiding the fact they are good from anybody. You should be proud of these kids and what they are doing to make America aware that Canada has talent in the sport that was invented by a Canadian.

Can I tell you Andrew Wiggins will live up to all these great expectations? No, but neither can Andrew Wiggins himself. That said, after seeing him on and off the floor I can totally understand why people think these massive thoughts and feel confident this is a young man that gets where he is at and wants this perhaps more than a nation of people that want it for him.

That said, he is still aware he is at the end of the day a kid on the verge of his eighteenth birthday. As much as I might get mad at the fact if he was hockey player he would be known from coast to coast in this country, there is lots of time for that. He is likely a bigger deal in the U.S than he is in parts of this country. Those must be those people watching curling on TSN. Wiggins is another example of a young man that has proven he is a talented basketball player regardless of the fact he comes from Canada.

He just might be the one that takes basketball to a new level in this country. If there is anything I have learned in the past few years, even if for some strange reason he isn’t, there are more and more kids coming. It is not to say that I am betting against him after what I saw today that would be pretty foolish.


Terrence Ross Honours V.C and Wins A Lacklustre Dunk Contest

In a season where the Raptors could not catch many breaks Terrence Ross got more than his share in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. It took him 5 or 6 attempts to make his first dunk and was still given a 50 for what was a nice dunk in the end but no one deserves a 50 on the fifth or sixth try. That would leave him tied with Gerald Green on the east side of the bracket.

More help as both James White who was a complete train wreck in this contest and most had pegged as the favourite going in. He had a home hum first dunk complete with a flight crew full of props. His second dunk he did not even finish. Gerald Green than cut down the net like he won an NCAA Championship and than tried something pretty cool if he was able to do it. He was attempting to dunk the basketball twice. This was no cupcake of a dunk though and he was not able to pull it off.

So basically as long as Terrence Ross didn’t fall on his face he had a spot in the finals. He did not fall and made a nice but not spectacular dunk to advance to the finals.

Jeremy Evans on the West side advanced to the finals. He won last year in one of the worst dunk contests till this year’s.

So the finals began with a prop dunk from hell in which Evans leaped over a painting which I thought he was going to rip off the sheet covering it as he dunked. It was nothing so dramatic. He would dunk and than go back to painting which was of the dunk he just did and he autographed with a sharpie. I am sure if Terrell Owens was watching he liked this.

Ross would counter with another gimmick that I believe Josh Smith started going with a retro jersey. Ross would have a purple 15 Vince Carter jersey on. He would live up to wearing it with a dunk catching the pass of the side of the backboard and throwing it down. It wasn’t exactly “Let’s Go Home Everyone….” but it was the best thing we had seen so far.

Evans had a better second dunk but was nothing all that spectacular and Ross stuck his last dunk over a ball boy which was likely better than both of the ones Evans put in.

Only thing left to see was if the fans would screw Ross like they did DeRozan against Nate Robinson. In the end by a margin of 58% to 42% Ross would be named the winner.

Raptors fans went nuts of course but on TNT Charles Barkley was not praising the winner but talking some truth on what this contest has become. This quite honestly Ross’ win aside this has become a joke. The record books will list Vince Carter and Terrence Ross as one time dunk contest champions. But the reality is Carter’s performance was in a different universe from that of Ross. The only thing the shared was a purple 15 jersey in common.

Hopefully this is something Ross can take and build off of for the rest of the season with the Raptors. That would be the only real thing that would matter out of this. Dunk Contests are nice but Vince also led this team and they reached the playoffs for three seasons. Ross is far from leading this team and the playoffs still maybe out of reach.

In the end it was a nice night to puff out your chest and see the Raptors through Ross do something on a world wide stage. That said they go back to obscurity until they can find a way to be a playoff team consistently. 

Here is some comments with Ross and the media after the contest:

So Terrence Ross is your 2013 Slam Dunk Champion: Congrats to him.


Love A Win No Matter How Ugly

The Toronto Raptors head into the All-Star break much like they ended the calendar year of 2012 riding a 4 game win streak. The Raptors in a game that was truly ugly in many ways found a victory in NYC last night. It was not a game that was pretty but at the end of the day it is about wins and loses and there are no style points.

You can debate if it was a great defensive struggle or a bunch of players focused on the fact the All-Star break was here. It would have been easy for the Raptors to roll over and die. When you consider Rudy Gay was struggling and Kyle Lowry was sent to the showers late in the third quarter.

The Raptors would continue to show a new found ability to deal with adversity and finish games.  Something early in this season they simple could not do. The Raptors would get a great performance from Alan Anderson and would ride that to a 92-88 victory.

Much like that run to close 2012 the Raptors once again find themselves sneaking back into playoff consideration. It likely isn’t going to happen but the fact this team looks totally different since the arrival of Rudy Gay with a 5-2 record gives some hope. What may ultimately play a role is what not only the Raptors do but other teams do prior to the trade deadline next Thursday.

I still think the Raptors are a very long shot to make the post-season. That said anything can happen I suppose and the Raptors are playing with a different attitude that could serve them well.

Terrence Ross is off to Houston for the Dunk contest while most of the Raptors are heading home to take a well deserved rest. It has been a roller coaster season to this point and to think anyone can predict what will happen post All-Star break is just educated guess work.

Will be not as busy here in the DNB but will keep taps on the Slam Dunk Contest and an event here in Hamilton where perhaps a future NBA All-Star will be in town in Andrew Wiggins. If he matches the hype that is surrounding him we could be talking about him in All-Star Weekends for years to come in the future.

It is Valentine’s Day and congrats to Landry Fields and Elaine Alden on getting engaged. Not sure what you do for an encore after that for Valentine’s Day. This is thankfully not my problem. I will just say this. Roses and flowers die but stuffed animals live forever…But as smart women will say…. so do diamonds. In any case have a great day and remember the most important person to love is yourself. This line will not work on a girlfriend or wife either.


Raptors and Knicks Get Reacquainted at MSG

It was no doubt a happy group of Raptors flying to New York after Rudy Gay did it again and helped them win. After the game last night he was searching for a ride to the airport being new around here probably not familiar with the route to Pearson International. Safe to say the Raptors flight to New York was not leaving without him.

The Raptors as strange as the NBA schedule can be face their division rivals the Knicks for the first time this season in Mid-February. Way back in October when the Raptors met the Knicks in Montreal for an exhibition game you could have had no clue what would happen for both these teams to start the season. On that night the Raptors steamrolled a Knicks squad that looked lost. The Knicks would storm out of the gate to start the season. While the Raptors great pre-season would long be forgotten after a 4-13 first month of the season.

Why the Knicks have been successful comes down to guys buying into some things. Carmelo Anthony has finally come to realize it takes a team effort to win games. While Amare Stoudamire who missed the Knicks big start to the season with injury came back to the team and came off the bench. Understanding that it was what was best and accepting that role.

It is not unlike what the Raptors are asking of Andrea Bargnani to do. The amount of success remains to be determined for Bargnani in this new role.  Bargnani did not look good in a win over the Nuggets and is said to battling the flu. He is also battling a fan base that is pretty much fed up with him. There is no denying that on a given night at the ACC you could have more people willing to boo Andrea than cheer him. Many fans have fingers crossed that by next Thursday Andrea Bargnani will no longer be their problem. It seems difficult to imagine a deal that makes sense for the Raptors materializing prior to the trade deadline. It seems more likely a deal that could go down in the summer rather than at the deadline.

This is the first of four contests with Knicks starting tonight at MSG. Despite being the home of perhaps the Raptors most famous road win of all-time it has not been a place that has offered them a great deal of success over the years. Just 12-21 all-time in New York but one of those wins did come last season as the teams split the season series 2-2 with each winning once on the other team’s home floor. The Raptors 6-19 road record is the major reason they are an outsider in terms of the playoff race in the East.

Defending the three point arc will be vital for both sides in this one. The Raptors were hot from distance down the stretch allowing them to be in position to have Gay be the hero at the end of last night in Toronto. New York sits second in the east and are winners of 7 of their last 10 games. They have a 19-7 record at MSG so far this season.

It should be interesting as this will be the last game before an All-Star Break in which a lot of players you could tell were looking forward to it last night. But they will enjoy that break more entering it with a 4 game win streak. The Raptors are on a roll and looking to have a one like they did to close 2012. They need many extended runs like this if they want anyone to take them seriously in the playoff hunt.

Rudy Gay Is Restoring Hope and Faith One Win At A Time

Sometimes the fact that I don’t cover every game has its advantages. You get to see changes in the time you are away. The changes with Raptors since Rudy Gay has arrived have been noticeable to anyone watching regardless of if you are around this team or not. But the changes are noticeable in that room as well.

Gay is in the locker that once was that of Ed Davis who was traded to Memphis in the deal that landed him here. On the other side is the vacant locker that once belonged to Jose Calderon. The presence of Gay in that room might deserve two lockers.

Tonight was a night where DeMar DeRozan really was the story most of the night. He had a dunk that perhaps will be better than anything you will see at All-Star Saturday Night. DeRozan will be watching the dunk contest from his home in L.A and he likely can say nothing he will see will be as good as what he did tonight at the ACC. He says he will be watching though rooting on Terrence Ross. As for his new team mate in Rudy Gay, DeMar had this to say pre-game before Gay had put on his cape to save the Raptors once again like he did in Indiana.

“It does a lot, it frees me up a lot of teams can’t double team or focus in on me. We got another great player on this team.” DeRozan when asked if it makes life easier for him and takes away some of the pressure on his shoulders. “I don’t mind, I love the challenge, but this is what it is all about to have as much help as we can to help win more games.”

Win more games is what Rudy Gay is doing, twice closing wins out first in Indiana and last night at the ACC.

Amir Johnson talks about what it means for the team to have a true closer in Gay as part of the mix:

 “We have a legit closer. He is not scared to make those tough shots or those end of the shot clock shots. Give him the ball and he gets it in the bucket. We haven’t had that in awhile.”

I would go as far to say as the Raptors haven’t had that since Vince Carter was in the building. When the Raptors played back in those days, you always felt they had a chance to beat anyone. Raptor fans have been so use to this team giving away leads and finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in more recent times.

Tonight, like many nights, the Raptors stormed out to an advantage and took control against an undermanned Nuggets squad. Nuggets had no Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallanari or Wilson Chandler. They would also lose Javale McGee along the way during the game. But as so often is the case, the Raptors could not make things easy and let the Nuggets hang around to the very end. What is different is the Raptors would not give up the lead entirely and fold. They gave themselves a chance to win and Rudy Gay who struggled most of the night and had 5 fouls would come in and hit the shot to give them a 109-108 lead. A defensive stand and another win would follow to make that the final score. This was a game in the season in November that Raptors lose.

The addition of Gay has had an impact on this team’s whole approach to close games. He believes he can make the shot and the guys that he shares that locker room with believe it too.

While Gay is the hero, Andrea Bargnani has become yesterday’s news for a lot of folks. Some fans showed little sympathy for the fact Bargnani was playing with the flu. It didn’t stop some from booing once again when he checked into the game. He played like someone who was not 100% and fans would let him hear it on occasion.

Six games into the Rudy Gay era the Raptors are 4-2 and he has hit the game winner in two of those 4 wins. The losses came at the hands of the Miami Heat and a Boston team that at the time was on a big role. While Gay may not save the Raptors playoff goals this season he makes the prospects of the playoffs for next year and years to follow much more realistic.

Rudy Gay is far from Superman and you do see on nights like tonight he can be far from perfect. That said, it makes what he did tonight even more impressive. He had a rough night at the office but he pushed it all to the side and when it mattered the most he made the big shot. He seems to fit in well with this group and has been very comfortable with stepping in and saying follow him. To this point the Raptors have willingly done so. You really could not script things much better for his arrival in Toronto.

What the Raptors do to build on this moving forward will ultimately to determine how successful he can truly be. Will the organization put the money behind him to make up for some pretty awful contracts they need to contend with including Gay’s own deal.

Chris Bosh left this franchise frustrated that this organization ultimately lacked the faith in him to spend beyond the tax threshold. Vince Carter left frustrated as well with management. Can Rudy Gay get the kind of backing that Bosh never got and can this new ownership lead the Raptors in a direction that would take them places that Vince Carter wanted to go.

Only time will tell on these questions. But for the here and now Rudy Gay is taking over the Toronto Raptors by storm and giving them a true centrepiece to build around. He is a true leader that embraces the role and does not shy away from it. Something that you can argue Bosh or Carter never did? Rudy Gay has got people talking about the Raptors and it isn’t in the form of jokes. He has restored something that seemed on the verge of death in the beginning of December. It is a simple word but the most important one for any sports franchise. Hope is back and Rudy Gay is the major reason it is.


This Week In Raptorland: All-Stars and Future Stars

This week on the podcast we take a look at how Rudy Gay is fitting in with the Raptors. What to do with a problem like Andrea or is Bargnani a problem at all? Talk of All-Star Weekend and the fact the NBA has indeed "Let Terrence Ross Dunk." Also talk of what exactly the rest of season season should be about. All this and talk about an event here in Hamilton on the weekend in which Andrew Wiggins will be here to show why he is worthy of all the hype. We have all substance and hopefully little hype in this edition of This Week In Raptorland with myself and Josh Lewenberg from TSN 1050.

That is it for the show heading down to cover the Raptors and Nuggets tomorrow in the Raptors final home game before the All-Star Break. Looking forward to that and look for some coverage on the Wiggins game this week in the DNB. Game is being held at McMaster Gym and is set to start 2pm on Sunday. Well worth coming out for if your able to do so to see one of the most talked about young players in history of this country.

If you have trouble listening or downloading from here please head over to our Podcast host and you can listen or download there directly or using Itunes.


Raptors Tangle with Hornets One Last Time

The Raptors will for perhaps the last time line-up against a team named Hornets. New Orleans comes to town to play the Raptors for the second and last time of this season. When we see them in 2013-14 they will be call the Pelicans. There is chatter the Hornets name could return to Charlotte, but for now the Hornets name is dead. The franchise in New Orleans is not dead and is actually starting to look like it is turning a corner slowly.

At the end of December the Raptors got 30 points from DeMar DeRozan and it was enough to produce a rare road win over the Hornets 104-97. A lot has chanced since than for both teams. Eric Gordon is in the line-up for the bugs while the Raptors no longer have Jose Calderon or Ed Davis but now of course have Rudy Gay. The also have Andrea Bargnani who you still have the right to boo. That said it really can’t be for anything he has done since returning to the line-up. He has been as good as you can expect. Good enough to stop him from being traded if not now or in the off-season, probably not.

The Raptors get the unexpected win in Indiana look to follow it up with a game that most feel they are capable of winning. It still remains a struggle in terms of the playoffs as they look up at Milwaukee, Philadelphia and even Detroit. That Jose Calderon guy helped the Pistons to their 20th win on the season with 24 points and 10 assists on the night in a win against those Bucks.

Rookie Anthony Davis was able to get 25 and 9 rebounds in his lone meeting with the Raptors.

Raptors have won 5 of their last 6 match-ups with the Hornets and are 11-14 All-Time vs. Hornets in Toronto. New Orleans did not play in Toronto last season because of the lockout shortened schedule. The Raptors have won the last two contests at the ACC. 


Rudy Gay Finds A Way To Be The Hero In Indiana

The Toronto Raptors have had very few good moments on the road this season. They were just 5-19 entering last night’s contest in Indiana. One of those wins came at the hands of Pacers on their home floor. The Raptors managed to hang on to a win despite scoring just 5 points in the final quarter. The Pacers had won 16 straight on their home floor and had only 3 losses total all season at home.

This game was going to a script that would suggest the Pacers remembering that loss in November and exacting some revenge on the Raptors. Rudy Gay was struggling against the Pacers as he did as part of the Grizzlies in two contests earlier in the season. The Raptors were fighting from behind for most of the night.

The Raptors also were having to deal with a physical Pacers squad and not getting a lot of help from the refs. David West has always been a problem for the Raptors and he was again on this night. He led all scorers in this game with 30. Another problem was Paul George who even with Rudy Gay on him was still finding a way to contribute.

The Raptors would enter the fourth trailing by 8 points and it seemed were heading to an expected defeat. It was a case of roll reversal to start the fourth though. The Raptors did to the Pacers what many teams have done to them. They quickly erased the Pacers 8 point advantage.

Two of the people carrying the load for the Raptors were Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson who carried the load in the final quarter for the Raptors.

Tyler Hansbrough drew the anger of Raptors fans tossing Jonas Valanciunas to the ground and not getting even a foul call. Worse still was Jonas appeared to re-injury his broken hand. Both he and Kyle Lowry missed a large portion of the fourth but would eventual return. Lowry apparently was not injured just some strange roster selection from Dwane Casey choosing to ride John Lucas III for far to long it appeared.

Andrea Bargnani had a decent night off the bench and DeMar DeRozan was having a decent night and despite not getting a lot of calls was finding his way to the line. The Raptors would find a way to tie this game late and extend it to overtime.

That said with just one win in extra time this season the Raptors 26-18 fourth quarter performance seemed to be destined to end in failure. This was the first time the Raptors would have Rudy Gay in extra time and in the end that would make a difference as he landed the dagger shot with 1.7 seconds left in OT to secure the win for the Raptors 100-98.

While many fans were frustrated by the refs in this one the Raptors found a way to battle through and win. In the end that is what the Raptors need to do more of. You can sit back and complain about things but in the end that will earn you at best an apology from the league. In this game the Raptors fought through the adversity and found a way to win. That is progress and while it likely means little for the outcome of this season it is a sign for the future that is positive.

Rudy Gay showed that star like quality that even in a gem in which he struggled throughout he found a way to show up when it mattered most and became the hero at the end of the day. He shot 8-25 which is nothing to write home about but he had 5 steals one of which at the end of regulation that set up Amir Johnson for the tying basket to send it to overtime. Johnson had 14 points and 14 rebounds and really is playing like a guy that is becoming the heart and soul of this club. 


Let Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas Play...Dunking Is Overrated.

Terrence Ross will be in the Slam Dunk contest.  He won’t be in the Rookie/Sophomore game and neither will Jonas Valanciunas. While everyone is all excited over Ross being part of All-Star Saturday night I honestly could careless. Former Raptor Matt Bonner will also be in the three point shootout while we're on the subject of All-Star Saturday Night.

The bigger issue to me is the lack of development in terms of playing time we are seeing for both Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. I think it is fairly clear the Raptors are not heading to the post-season. Even for the most optimistic, the loss to Boston has to pretty much put an end to logical debate on if they can make it.

In my view, the playoffs are and were a pipe dream for this team after their disastrous start to the season. Obviously, the East being what it is there have been moments where the Raptors have been let back into the race to some degree but realistically they have always been on the outside looking in.

So the focus should be the future and that includes both Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. It likely doesn’t include guys like Aaron Gray and Alan Anderson at the end of the day. When this team builds to the position of being a legitimate playoff team and hopefully eventually a contender, it is safe to say no one sees them as part of the rotation.

So the minutes they play going forward are lost minutes in the development of both of the Raptors' rookies. They both need that time as well. Jonas has been a bit of a disappointment at the end of the day. He came in with all the hype and all the expectations and really has not lived up to it as of yet. Missing around a month of time in the season due to injury was not part of his development plan. It likely shouldn’t have been starting at center to begin with either.

Still now with nothing to really lose it does make sense to let him play more be it starting or coming off the bench. It also makes sense to do what you can to trade Andrea Bragnani. He is just not going to work going forward. The simple fact is he will continue to be a dividing force with the fan base and you really can’t afford to play him on the floor with Jonas.

It is Bargnani’s seventh year and the time was up long before now on giving up on him and moving forward. Even being booed by a rough estimated 50% of the ACC had little to no response from him. I would be much happier if he was at least pissed off. Any kind of emotion would be nice. That just isn’t him at the end of the day. He isn’t a fit for this athletic group the Raptors are starting to build either. Rudy Gay is now the centrepiece of this squad.

The arguments about creating space on the floor have just become weak. Sure that might be true, but a couple things are also true. Rudy Gay is capable of creating space as well, by attracting double teams and making things easier for his team. In addition the Raptors record with Bargnani in the line-up as opposed to out of the line-up is too significant to ignore. Regardless of how he performs it ultimately does not contribute to wins enough.

The Raptors need to cut bait and move on once and for all. If they fail to move him by the deadline it will be a failure and it will be a strong indication that interest around the league is not as high as Bryan Colangelo would like us to believe. His publicly declaring him available might be a sign as well.

Trading DeMar DeRozan to go with Terrence Ross would be a major blunder however. Ross is simply not ready to be a starter in this league. On some nights can he play like a starter? Yes he can, but on other nights he looks totally lost and a mess. Inconsistent is what he is when you cut away all the highlight dunks and flash about his game.

DeRozan and Ross can co-exist long term and they actually fill each others gaps nicely. The Raptors by extending DeRozan have likely made him someone that would be a challenge to move anyway. Not to mention that the Raptors have shown a willing nature to play small ball, this makes it far easier to find both minutes.

That process should be starting now and figuring these things out. Can the Raptors be effective with Ross, DeRozan and Rudy Gay all on the floor at once? It sure seems like a very exciting trio to have on the floor given the skill set of all three.

These types of things are what this season needs to be about. The Raptors need to continue to build towards the future and be far less concerned with the present. Colangelo promised more moves and hopefully we get to see some especially in terms of Bargnani so we can officially turn the page on an era that has produced little.

As for Ross in the dunk contest we have seen this movie before. The NBA Dunk Contest is more side show than substance. DeMar DeRozan knows that all to well. Ross is rather soft spoken and lacks the swagger with his words and does it more with his actual ability. The dunk contest no longer rewards the actual dunks as much as it rewards the whole show around the dunks.

I would like to say Ross stands a chance of winning because he has the skill to dunk the basketball. I watched DeMar DeRozan get screwed twice which has taught me to know better.

At the end of the day….Let Ross Play means more than letting him perform dunks at All-Star Weekend. It will be a good experience in terms of getting a chance to be around some of the NBA’s elite but ultimately what he needs is the experience to make his overall game better.

That doesn’t happen at All-Star Weekend….It happens in games like Friday vs. the Pacers and all the rest going forward. 

Celtics The Latest Team To Comeback And Win In The 4th

We start the recap of last night with some words from the group Bon Jovi. “ It’s all the same, only the names have changed. Everyday it seems we’re wasting away.” That seems to sum up last night at the ACC fairly well. Andrea Bargnani is a name we do know and he would in fact make his return to the line-up coming off the bench. He would be greeted with what at best could be called a mixed reaction with lots of boos and cheers mixed when his name was announced.

If anyone is surprised by that reaction they really shouldn’t be. Bargnani prior to his injury in Portland would have almost certainly heard these jeers if not for his injury in a game against the Nets upon returning from a 5 game losing Western Conference road swing.

While Bargnani was booed, cheers of “Let’s go Rudy” would ring out in a strong third quarter for the Raptors. They would have a lead of 10 heading into the final quarter against Boston still holding down that final spot in the East.

As it has happened so many times before the Celtics would come out and erase the Raptors advantage fairly quickly. Not lost in all the hoopla with the return of Bargnani was the fact Alan Anderson was struggling in this one. In fact Anderson has really not looked the same since that overtime loss to the Heat. He played while Terrence Ross who may or may not be allowed to dunk did not that much. Same said for Jonas Valanciunas as Aaron Gray continues to log minutes.

In the end the Celtics matched the 30 points they scored in the second quarter in the fourth and out scored the Raptors 30-16 to close the show and win the game 99-95.

Rudy Gay continues to produce points but on this night  was much more of a volume shooter going 8-24 with 25 points and 12 rebounds. As for the returning Andrea Bargnani it was not a terrible night for him as he had 13 points go with a massive 3 rebound total. I refer you back to the Bon Jovi line at the start in terms of Andrea Bargnani’s rebounding performance.

Amir Johnson continues to impress win or lose with 16 points and 12 rebounds on this night. Nice night for Kyle Lowry as well with 17 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds along with 4 steals and 4 turnovers.

At the end of the day we can talk about a lot of different things but what needs to be clear now once and for all is this team is not getting to the post season this year. If we all accept that than the time has come to LET ROSS PLAY and Jonas too as that is far more important than if Terrence gets to be in the NBA Dunk Contest.


Boston, Bargnani and Boos?

The dark cloud that had been looming in the distance maybe coming into the radar screen. Andrea Bargnani is on the verge of the least anticipated return from injury in Raptors history. It could be as soon as tonight against Boston. Normally in sports a player returns from injury to cheers. In pro wrestling, even the biggest heel can not come back as bad guy very often, as it is the fans instinct to cheer him. Andrea Bargnani has no doubt become the villain in the soap opera that is the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors' record with him will tell you why as they have a 4-17 with the former first round pick in the line-up. Toronto fans have in the past booed players they have lost faith in. Vince Carter was booed a lot even before he demanded his trade from the franchise. People grew tired of his act and wanted him gone. Despite Vince being the Raptors most talented player at the time and quite honestly in history of the franchise.  Andrea Bargnani has been the most talented Raptor without argument until Rudy Gay arrived on the scene.

Colangelo made mention of it constantly how Gay joked with him that Bryan should have drafted him to begin with. Which as many of you are aware would have meant not drafting Andrea Bargnani. You can speculate as to why Colangelo was so willing to share this private conversation with the media. Maybe it was as simple as he wanted to say it first for fear Gay might mention it. It might be a not so subtle message to Andrea Bargnani that he will no longer have his back.

Proof of that fact is when we do see Bargnani return it is almost guaranteed he will do it coming off the bench. What we get from that remains to be seen but Bargnani does have to play at the end of the day. You will have no hope of trading him if you can not at least showcase he is healthy. The damage this could do to an ever changing chemistry of this roster remains to be seen. The most unlikely situation would be he actually helps this team. There is no doubt he could add some scoring punch off the bench if he is motivated to do so. It is just no one really expects to see that.

If the return comes tonight it is on a very important night for the Raptors fading playoff hopes. Boston comes to town to play the Raptors for just the second time this season. They recently lost Rajon Rondo for the entire season and most likely a chunk of next season as well. Despite this major loss the Celtics have somewhat surprisingly rallied without him. Even though most feel they are like a dead man walking as far as holding on to the final playoff spot in the East.

Boston already saw the original “big three” broken up with Ray Allen signing with the rival Heat. Now talk of the unthinkable and trading Kevin Garnett has been one of the latest rumours out there in a season full of them at this time of year. The destination being talked about is the L.A Clippers. Will see if this turns out to be the case or not? The Raptors would not miss him if this happened as he has been the poster boy for the Celtics dominance and bullying of the Raptors over the years.

This game and the two remaining against the Celtics are all pretty much must win situations for the Raptors. Prior to last season the Raptors were 2-14 against the Celtics in that “big three” era. Last season the Raptors actually were able to win both their match-ups at the ACC against Boston. The last time that happened was the year the Raptors took home their only division title in 2006-07.

If anything for many reasons this should be a very interesting contest for the Raptors. Rudy Gay has a few more practices under his belt and has been doing media all over the place introducing himself to Toronto. He is a happy guy as well as his hometown Ravens took home the Super Bowl on the weekend. It is good to be Gay in Toronto…Rudy Gay that is.

The Raptors have become fun to watch again and even some of the most casual fans have taken notice of the arrival of Rudy Gay. While players have hesitated to embrace or acknowledge the term “franchise player” since Chris Bosh left town, Gay does not shy away from it. He seems to have the attitude of bring it on as he truly has embraced the role.

No one is exactly in position to deny that he isn’t. This might be the biggest reason this trade makes sense for the Raptors. This is a star driven league and many feel Rudy Gay is and can be that guy for the Toronto Raptors. While few still believe that Andrea Bargnani deserves to even be here anymore. Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge it is hard to find a player in the draft class that is better than Rudy Gay. It sure isn’t Andrea Bargnani we know that much.


Rudy Gay Finally The Replacement For Vince Carter In Toronto?

Have the Raptors finally replaced Vince Carter with the acquisition of Rudy Gay? It has been a long list of players that have tried to fill the rather large legacy that Vince Carter built in Toronto.  Rudy Gay may have a chance to finally give Raptors fans someone at the small forward position that is at least comparable to Vince in terms of talent and skill.

Carter spent 6 seasons plus with the Raptors and that is the same amount of time Gay spent in Memphis. Carter was better overall in terms of scoring with a career high 27.6 points in his third season. Gay had his career best 20.1 points in his second season in Memphis the only season he has averaged above 20 points per season. To suggest Gay is equal to Carter is a stretch statistically speaking. That said he is far closer than any of the many that have tried to fill his shoes since he left in December of 2004.

Like Carter, it appears that the Raptors offence is going to be built around Rudy Gay who is the one player on this Raptor roster that you can feel confident can create his own shot. In past years it has been an offence that has been designed for Andrea Bargnani and at times DeMar DeRozan.

Gay seems to be comfortable in embracing the franchise player label that has been thrust upon him since the trade. Andera Bargnani and to a lesser extent DeMar DeRozan have had their chances to claim that role for their own. Now it seems that time has passed and this is Gay’s team to make his own around him.

While some Raptor fans still hold hope for this season, realistically this is more about future seasons for the Raptors and Gay. He also becomes perhaps the Raptors most realistic shot at sending someone back to All-Star Weekend to be part of the actual game on Sunday. There have been potential All-Star tags thrown on guys like Bargnani and maybe even DeRozan in the past. Not to mention Kyle Lowry who the Raptors acquired in the summer. That said from a talent point of view Gay seems to be the best shot at that despite playing at perhaps one of the more competitive positions to become an All-Star.

What also should be interesting is how this team is built around Gay. Chris Bosh made it clear long before he was thanking Raptor fans for their jeers, that he felt ownership needed to spend money to be committed to winning. That remains an unanswered question if the Raptors intend to go beyond the tax-threshold to build around their new franchise piece in Gay. Love him, or hate him, they never made that commitment with Chris Bosh.

You almost think they have to now, when you consider all the over-valued contracts on this roster including his own.  Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Linas Klezia are just a few of the contracts beyond Gay’s huge price tag that make you think something has to give. Many feel Bargnani will ultimately be traded but it seems highly unlikely they could do this without taking at least some of his 10 million dollar per season salary back.

The Raptors promotion heading into the season featured a song proclaiming it was a new day. The season certainly did not start out like that at all. However now with Jose Calderon the longest serving Raptor gone and having played his first game in Detroit last night it truly does seem like a new day now. The Rogers portion of the Raptors new ownership in the non-capped MLB has been busy spending lots of money building the Blue Jays into a legit contender for the World Series. There is obvious some restrictions to spending in some respects in the NBA. However if you are willing to spend you can as the Raptors have seen in their own division with the Nets and Knicks.

Gay has had a great start and clearly captured the imagination of this fan base and the media in the honeymoon period after this trade. There is still a lot of work to be done to get the Raptors back to being a playoff team and doing that on a consistent basis. After that dare we say into contenders in the Eastern Conference? It is a long road for sure and still likely has many twists and turns left to play out.

That said, it is hard to imagine that any larger piece to the puzzle is coming than Gay. This weight of this franchise will be on his shoulders. Something he was willing to take on going back to his draft year as he made clear to Bryan Colangelo. Something that the guy Colangelo took instead in Andrea Bargnani has not been able to do and failed miserably. Gay now tries to do what Bargnani couldn’t and take this team places that go further than Chris Bosh and Vince Carter have in the past.

When the hangover and buzz wears off, that is the challenge for Rudy Gay. To bring the excitement and expectations that came from Vince Carter’s presence on this Raptors Roster. No easy task for sure, but that is part of the responsibility that comes with that big pay check.


This Week In Raptorland: Road To Recovery

It has been a rough week for me physically but I am happy to report I am slowly turning the corner to feeling better. It was to big a week in Raptorland to cancel the podcast so I did my best to survive talking 60 minutes of Raptors Basketball. I was able to assisted by Josh Lewenberg as we talk the big news of the week with the Rudy Gay trade as well as everything else that went on with the Raptors. So give it a listen and hear are thoughts on trade and what it means for the Raptors going forward.

As I said it has been a struggle with the DNB of late and I apologize for that but things are slowly returning to normal and thanks for you patience and understanding. Also for the many well wishes I have had to shake this bug that has caused me a less than great week. I am starting to turn the corner and hope to be back to 100% soon.

This podcast has been something I have put a high priority in this season and as long as I have a voice to do you can count on it being here every Monday. If you can not download or listen to it here please head over to our podcast host and you can listen there or download via Itunes or directly.


Raptors Have A New Weapon To Combat The Heat

The Toronto Raptors’ came the closest they have to beating the Miami Heat since they formed the big three last week. It was a team effort with the Raptors having 7 players scoring in double figures but it was not enough to combat D-Wade’s 35 and a triple double of Lebron James with 31 points 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

One thing that will likely be different is who is guarding Lebron in this one. The Raptors have added Rudy Gay and his debut vs. the Clippers can only be considered a smashing success. That said, it was a Clippers team without Chris Paul. Heat should have everyone on hand including Chris Bosh who was only a minor factor in the last match-up.

Some positives from the Gay debut were the improved play of DeMar DeRozan who was thrilled to find all this space on the floor playing along side. The one thing Dwane Casey would stress is the defense that was on point against the Clippers.

Case you wondered, Jose Calderon had 17 points and only 3 assists and Ed Davis had 13 points and 5 rebounds in the 123-116 overtime loss. Could a guy like Rudy Gay produce those numbers on his own? On a good day he just might.

Keep a couple other things in mind. The Heat are likely a tad ticked off they almost lost to the Raptors in Miami. Also Lebron James is pissed that this game is going to cause him to miss the Super Bowl. You might have wanted to root for Dallas Cowboys to make the big game and by indication James might have skipped his team flight and maybe walked across the street to Real Sports to watch the game.

It is the Ravens and Niners. For me I am rooting for the Ravens as Ray Lewis is set to retire win or lose.

Also I am sure you are aware Lebron James career high is against the Raptors and it actually came in a loss as part of the Cavs. Before you total hate on all things Miami keep in mind the Jays overall could not have been possible without the Miami Marlins. It makes you wonder with these things being floated about James going back to Cleveland if the Miami Thrice is only a short term show. While Lebron James can be a show wherever he chooses to go that can’t be said for Chris Bosh. Oh that thing called karma can be a really pain in the butt.

But we still have at least a few more years of this to go minimum. Raptors will continue to search for answers in this one-sided beat down and maybe Rudy Gay can be helpful.


Raptors Feeling Gay... while Dinoblogger still ill.

I continue to battle this cold or flu whatever it is. thanks to folks who have sent me get well wishes on Twitter. I can not honestly remember the last time  I have been ill for more than 48 hours.

The time of my sickness could not be worse in terms of the excitement surrounding the franchise.

It was electric at ACC and you could feel it through you T.V screen.

Just some quick takeaways form the Gay debut:

Demar DeRozan seemed to thrive on the floor with Gay. He had a January to forget. More space and more confidence along with a developing passing game.

Amir Johnson continues to play some of the best basketball of his career. he tied a career high in rebounds with 16 to go with 19 points. His play likely made the idea of parting with Ed Davis easier.

Jonas returned and given play of Aaron Gray of late I am fine with Jonas remaining in second unit.

Lowry seems geniuinely happy to have a close friend with him here in Toronto. He also does not have to deal wth the battle with Calderon.

As for Gay he was as advertised with a buzzer beater and dunks for days. He fit in well and seems to embrace a role as the guy in this offense.

It was a dominate win against a team minus it's best player in Chris Paul. A major test awaits on Super Sunday againt the Super Team from south beach


Gay or not Clippers will be tough

So it is a longshot if we see Rudy Gay tonight vs the Clippers. Still maybe an outside chance but unlikely. Gay is expected to be in town though and get his medical to finalize the deal.

As expected Dwane Casey was fined 25,000 after his rather blunt accessment of the NBA refs and their lack of calls for his team. Some fans have said fans should pick up the tap for coach Casey others have said MLSE should pick up the tab.

If fans want to raise 25,000 why not give it to charity in coach Casey's name. This is what Mark Cuban did when he was getting fined on a regular basis. Matching the fine with a charitable donation in the amount of the fine.

Bryan Colangelo has been making the rounds telling anyone who will listen the Raptors are not done dealing. I still feel that this team is too far behind to rise back into playoff race. Colangelo is looking beyond this season it would seem. He has painted himself into a corner promising more in terms of movement.

I am still pretty sick and to add to the issues my computer needs to get some repairs. So it may be a little rough around the edges here in the DNB. I applogize but will do my best to keep things rolling.

This is the first time I have written on my blackberry. if there is a will there is a way.