Friday, January 16, 2009

Is leadership the question?

I could not help but think about the last few lines of the previous post. Is leadership really the problem, can we look at Bosh, or Jose and simply say they are not leading properly? After thinking about it, personally I don't think that its fair to criticize that. So many people tribute Boston's resurgence to KG's leadership, his intensity, leading his crew, but I find it hard to believe that KG learned leadership at the tender age of 32?

Being an avid KG fan in his Timberwolves day, I struggle to remember one year where the team as a whole showed the passion the Celtics showed last year. I quote last year because I don't see it as much this year. Even when they made it to the conference finals, KG was undoubtedly the leader, but his teammates did not show the intensity that he did, it was not visible that KG had a direct effect on "pumping his team up". That was a year where they just had a good mesh of talent, diving for those 50/50 balls was not the reason they made it as far as they did while for the Celtics, the hustle of Posey, PJ and Powe were deciding factors. I can't remember exactly but I think PJ Brown had a +/- of 20 something during the finals. I do think when you see the Celtics this year, you can see that void on their bench. The leadership of those two off the bench, their passion their leadership set the tone for their bench and I think once we hit the playoffs, we're going to really see how much they will sorely be missed. Similarily, I think it will be even more interesting to see the effect Ginobili, Terry, Odom and Kirilenko have on the outcome in the west.

Leaders of the teams get so much criticism because they are the face of the team, but I think it's more important to have a group of leaders, and personally I think the best teams have multiple leaders, different kinds, leaders who are your best player, leaders who are your smartest player, leaders who are your best bench player, leaders who are vets, but more importantly, I think they need PLAYERS who hold each other and themselves accountable. It's always easy to say, oh Chris should have driven on the last possession, but whose fault was it that the game was so close at the end? I think the most underrated leader is the leader of the bench. Having a quality seasoned player accept his role off the bench sends an example to the rest of the bench. I think being able to look at the bench and hold them accountable is important, but I think those players on the bench knowing they are accountable is perhaps one of the most important points in building a team.

Look no further than the spurs and you'll see. Yes, they have a superstar in Duncan and one of the best point guards in the league in Parker, but we also know their success depends on how far Ginobili can carry them. I don't think any Spur took it harder being eliminated by the Lakers when it was clear that him being injured and not having a great series was ultimately the deciding factor. I think too many team s underestimate the value of the 6th man. He's so much more than energy off the bench, he may be the most valuable leader on the team. Down the 13th man, they are the lesser stars, they are the ones who can look to that 6th man, making a sacrifice for the team, helping any way they can, but more importantly, by sharing that bench together, they can relate and learn.

As this is a Raptor blog, let me relate it someway. Looking at their roster, its clear, we are still pieces away, key pieces. In my opinion though, Oneal getting injured may be the best thing that happens to the team this regular season. Not only did we get Bargnani to see that he does belong, but having a former all star, a seasoned proven vet leading the bench, I cant' help but think he will be the example and leader that Joey, Kris, Jake, Jason and Ukic need. I think we didn't realize the psychological implications of the game. Having our 6th man early on be a unproven third year insecure player looking to prove that he belongs, I think that can be a bad sign. Do you really want your leader off the bench to be unsure of whether he even belongs? I think we can rest easy knowing that no matter how many times Azubuike destroy's Oneal's knee, he's going to know he belongs in this league. I think it will be very interesting to keep an eye on how the bench reacts to Oneal being the 6th man.

This was my first post on a blog in god knows so I would appreciate any feedback, positive or negative.

PS. I know its long, I tend to ramble!


  1. That was a great post. You;d be surprised to know this, but my dad has been a huge b-ball fan since he was little (Uruguay's 2nd sport). And last sunday he told me EXACTLY what you just typed. And it just took him like until 1/2 time to realize the RAp's bench was key.

    And I've been struggling with the idea of Bosh being "The leader", and i think he does too. Back in the Carter days, we'd just pass it to him with 1 min left and he'd win us countless games (was famous for that actually). Bosh seems to feel like he has to live up to that on a nightly basis.

    Do you think it's better to have J.O be an important bench player than return to the starting lineup?
    (especially with Bargs pulling "Dirk" numbers?)

  2. Malin, that's an awesome post and please, write as long as you want to!

    Raptor fans don't need to be Einsteins to figure out the shortcomings (that's what she said) of our bench production. And let me just say it's so frustrating knowing the Raptors might never reach the same level as the Spurs, Lakers, Boston.

    I just want to say that CB4 is not a leader, but more a face of the team. He's still young and the game is taking a toll on him because of all the dependency put on his back. But if he was a leader like K.G./Duncan/Kobe, then I feel we would definitely see more unity in the Raptors.

    Right now, the Raptors are all jumbled up and the pieces are [potentially] there, but needs a few more to really make everything fit together. I think the Raps need a proven veteran leader, which as Alvaro has mentioned has to have that "Oakley-like" quality. There's intensity within our players, but it's not the same intensity you get from the players I mentioned above. What Bosh/O'Neal/Calderon/Parker have is a quiet intensity.

    If the Raptors can get a hold of a proven vet., a solid, versatile forward and maybe a key energy player (like JYD), then this team will certainly entertain again. I think we just all need to be patient again...and I know we have been for the last few years, but I really do think the Raptors got something here with Bosh and Bargnani.

    And yes, Shayan...I am finally getting off your case with Bargnani!

  3. Just some advice though... You might want to do more paragraph breaks, so that it might be a little easier to read.

  4. Will do, I just edited it and added tags.

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  6. having bargnani come off the bench again can go one of two ways: either he becomes the focal point for the bench and be a good example, or he rides that slippery slope the announcers often call "confidence". i personally wouldn't like him to be an example for the bench if i had to choose. like you said, i want some veteran presence on the bench. and i dont think voskuhl or kapono are going to be those pivotal presences.

    SO, keeping JO on the bench as having the 6th man role is good to me for now. it lessens his minutes, which isnt bad for someone his age, which will also keep him somewhat fresh for the playoffs if we make it. and he'll probably end up becoming more productive with the less time that he has. and he can be a serious influence on our bench... some strong mentality that can stay longer than he probably will.

    i just hope they dont go back to the lineup of the three bigs with bargnani at 3. the boy is comfortable where he is. leave him there.

  7. Nice post Malin. Having O'Neal being the 6th man would be great for the bench to look up to, but O'Neal's been a lot of talk about leadership and team unity yet I've never seen him on the bench once during his latest "injury." He was probably busy getting "treatment" at Brass Rails (

  8. haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha. really? i thought he'd be more of a zanzibar-type man.