Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bargnani knows how to deal with racist players; lock'em in a room with Dwight Howard

I stumbled upon this little interview from an Italian site, and used Google to translate. This little segment was the most interesting I found (translation is shaky since its literal, but you can make out what he's trying to say):

Now a matter a little 'more delicate. In Italy the players of color are targeted by racist songs. Even an Italian like Mario Balotelli is in their sights. Nba player accustomed to playing with guys from all over the world, how you rate this?

"For me it is such a thing outside the world that it is difficult to give an answer. It is inconceivable, but we must also be careful not to give too much importance to these people. And we must not do the whole apples and oranges, because it is a minority. In the world's all, you encounter all sorts of people and sometimes also deficient.

Italian football is, however, the victim of this scourge. While the basketball players have already played as Carlton Myers and Daniel Hackett.Why basketball is more than skin color?

"I do not know. If I have to tell the truth I like to be black. I have always envied their physicality. Jumping all like mad and it's great to see them play. If only jump as they ...».
Perhaps you would be the strongest player in Italy dell'Nba but you peck whistles and someone would say that you're not Italian. Have you ever thought about how to react if you were in a similar situation?

"I do not know how to react, but I have the solution to this problem. Take one of these racist and place it in a room together with Dwight Howard and let alone a few minutes to clarify (he says jokingly, ndr). I am sure that would work ... It is a fact that has cultural roots associated with 70 years ago. People who have this kind of problem in the wrong time, perhaps living in the wrong century and is out of time and the world. "

It's interesting to hear Bargnani say that he'd love to be black because of the physicality and athleticism most black players seem to have so easily, at the same time I'm sure a lot of players (especially his size) would love to be him and behold that infinite range he has on the floor when he shoots.

I must say it's also nice and impressive that he answered a huge issue such as racism so candidly and handled it with grace. Football (or soccer if you're North American) players of colour playing in Europe facing incessant racism on their 'homecourt' is nothing new and it's cool to hear Bargnani address the issue. And the Dwight Howard thing, that had me laughing - you can't say the guy doesn't have humour.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Triano What does this mean? Part II

So I saw that my previous article got posted on a forum and saw that people were nice enough to talk about it which is much appreciated. After seeing some of the comments I thought I'd right a sequel to that.

First of all, my apologies for not including pop and adelmen, they definitely deserve it and just slipped my mind.

Second, in terms of Mitchel, what I meant was what some other people alluded to in that he is great at getting teams with less talent to play hard and play motivated. Thus he has strong value with rebuilding teams where the fans want to see the team still try. Even in the wake of that disaster raptor season before the playoffs, you have to give him props for keeping hte lid on what could have blown up into a team chemistry nightmare. As such, for young teams like the wolves, the grizzlies, the thunder, Sacramento, hes a goodfit for these teams. This is mainly due to the fact that people often say you are what you coach. He was heralded as a hustle player which is what he coaches and which is why he's not good in the playoffs where x's and o's, in game adjustments, in bound plays win out over hustle because usually everyone is hustling.

Third, the aspect of the importance of coaching. I did not mean to imply that coaching was unimportant what I meant was that the real significance of high quality coaching comes in the semi finals, conference finals, championship. AT the end of the day, less talent doesn't beat great talent but good talent can be made great with coaching. For example, with the Raptors this year, they don't need to bring in a high quality famous coach because the goal is to get back to the playoffs. For this mission, talent is more important. Once playoffs are reached, those one or two pieces that are added bring that talent up the necessary threshold. Its here where such talent is amassed that you need the high quality coach to push you over the edge and as someone alluded to, manage personalities. To sum up, its not that coaching isn't important, is that different levels of coaching meet different levels of teams. The poor rebuilding teams, need a coach that can still get you motivated, that can force you to play hard. The teams striving for playoffs and who are happy with the second round, this is where the majority of coaches who are just medium quality can fit. To get this far, generally the team with more talent wins and the priority of the team is to add more pieces, not fine tune. Finally, the championship calibre teams are generally already loaded with talent and the differentiating point comes from your head coach who knows how to manage all this talent, find the best fit for the team and can add those 3-5 wins that could mean home court or a championship.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Triano, What does this mean?

Well first off, congratulations to Triano on his deal!

So what does this mean for the raptors?

In a nut shell, nothing really. Coaching is perhaps the most over estimated aspect of basketball team performance in the league. In fact, for the most, there are really only a handful of coaches whose mere presence can add to the win column while the vast majority of head coaches out there are really only as good as their roster. Look no further than Mitchel, or Doc Rivers is perhaps an even better example. The year before he wins coach of the year, the celtics had what, an 18 loss streak and a record that rivaled the worst all time in NBA history. What did it take to win, a complete roster revamp. The same thing with Mitchel and the Raptors.

With the exception of george karl, jackson, sloan, jeff van gundy and carlisle, (apologies, I forgot to include the GREAT pop and adelmen) the rest of the coaching faculty are relatively mediocre, each with their own strengths and weaknesses but are made better by the right fit. Dantoni with a running team, mitchel with a younger team, jackson with managing star personalities and so on so forth. Its in fact extremely unfair to coaches that they carry the blame for underperforming teams but ironically, i think even the gm's know that its unfair, and in most cases, its simply to keep the fan base from rioting.

So why keep Triano rather than bringing in another mediocre or even a star coach. Well, no matter how a good a coach, you still need a talented roster. What I've seem to noticed is that the star coach is what helps push teams to title contention and as the raps are far from contending, its more crucial to change the roster now, and bring in the star coaches to help push us over the edge in a few years. Which also explains the length of his contract.

Other than that, there are really only two other reasons to keep him. The most important being that the players like him. What resonates with title contending teams? continuity and consistency. These need to start in the head office to spread down to the team and truly allow them to take steps. Every time something changes, you start again and the raps definitely don't need to take another step back. The last reason really is that he will be much more affordable as opposed to another mediocre coach which is extremely important with the roster makeover the Raptors need to make. In fact you'll probably se the raps make one big financial move while trading into the draft for low cost high potential roster picks to ease the burden should bosh leave while maintaing a decent roster. With the resigning of delfino, parker and pops, a low budget sg signing and returning marion through bird rights is enough to take huge steps forward but we'll get into that more after the playoffs.

Here's to a denver cleveland final!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Whose the better TEAM?

Something I've been talking about a lot with my friends is obviously the playoffs and who are the impressive teams and one thing that has really stuck out to me is that people are obsessed with looking at the paper. They seem to think success is dictated by who names do you have on your team, what do they average?

To me the biggest example is Denver. I'm not a carmelo fan at all and it's for that reason really that I have never really liked Denver but its amazing what one player can really do for a team. But if you ooked at the statistics behind it, iverson and billups really averaged very similar numbers. But what is not in the statistics is the chemistry. Denver is without a doubt so much better than they are on paper and it's for this reason that many people sleep on them. For this reason that a lot of people picked new orleans and probably a lot of people will pick dallas. What stands out about Denver is that they love playing together and they love being together. Karl has been quoted as saying that he simply loves his roster and can't imagine replacing anyone there. To me, Billups is the mvp of the playoffs so far, his statistical averages are nothing amazing but his presence and demeanor set the tone for new orleans and have already set the tone for the dallas series.

Cleveland is next. I'm not usually one of those people who supports the stacked teams, I'm definitely an underdog guy and its for that reason that I didn't watch cleveland that much throughout the regular season. But once I did towards the end of the season I was SHOCKED with how good they are. How much better they all make each other and what really stands out is how much fun they have with each other. The team itself is simply very genuine. But their secret ingredient for success is really their tenacity. From lebron to the 13th man on the bench, they all have that killer instinct and that work ethic so that they never let up and they want to always bury you by as much as thy can. So far in the playoffs, Denver is the only other team to show some semblance of this where they will BURY you if they give you the chance. Look no further from that 50 point ousting of the hornets. The fact that they were the only team to sweep is just further evidence that they are always prepared and always full effort and to me, this is their trophy to lose.

The lakers are undoubtedly the most talented team in the NBA and the fact that they know it is their greatest weakness. Nobody has more of a killer instinct than Kobe but to me the fact that he has a very quiet demeanor makes it so that the rest of the team doesn't feed off of that. I remember early on they were talking all about defense and you simply never hear that anymore . They are an offensive team first and foremost and they will only beat you by outscoring you. To me what is a real shame is simply the fact that as much great players as they have, If Kobe doesn't have an EFFICIENT night, they still lose and that simply shouldn't be happening.If he doesnt shoot the ball well, they lose but with so many people able to get their own shot, if he's off, they shouldn't keep running everything through him. Unfortunately, their probably still good enough to make the finals but if they dont develop that work ethic and commitment to playing hard on both ends for 48 minutes, they WON'T beat cleveland. Their weakness is still the same as last year, mental toughness. Houston showed an edge and the lakers couldn't respond. This is probably their greatest challenge because Houston is a defensive team with the best perimeter d in the league. If anyone can take them out in an upset, its houston. I'm not sleeping on denver who will make it to the eastern conference but the problem is they love the high scoring game which is la's strong suit while houston will slow the game, force more half court which is the lakers weakness. Its essentially the same problem they'll have with cleveland in that they also want a low scoring game and are defensive giants. The lakers need that edge and if they can't find it, their going home empty handed for SEASONS until they find someone who is VOCAL and brings that edge. Thats really what stands out about Artest is that although he spews a lot of shit, he is a vocal leader with attitude and edge.

(On a side note, I'd love for the raps to pick him up, resign marion, bring back delfino and parker and pops and I think we're set for the year then. Also I saw rasho talking with maurizo a lot so I really expect him back as the back up centre. Any trade they can get rid of hump, kapono or banks is just a bonus)

It's a bit weird to be talking about the great things other teams have because this is normally the time where we pine about the raps being eliminated but you cant deny the fat that there are some AMAZING teams out there who are really greater than their parts.

Also on a side note, van gundy is not an idiot but I'll never understand how you don't pass to your best player when the lead is dying away. It's a common symptom of how they always blow leads and let people back into the game and you'd think they'd learn that after the Phili series. AFter seeing it so many times, they DESERVE To lose but i still want them to kick boston's arrogant ass.