December 23, 2018
Pretty forgettable Raptors game last night and there’s not an awful lot more to say about it.
So we won’t.
Christmas mail? Sure. But, also, Happy Festivus!
We’ll be back with usual fare tomorrow morning and some off-day stuff later today and for the Boxing Day paper (no paper Christmas morning) but until then, tons of mail.
And a fervent wish for a Happy Festivus!!!!
Air your grievances, conduct incredible feats of strength. Have youself a day!
Q: Hi Doug.
Hope your cold is better and that we can focus on your sticking to your new eating habits rather than a boring cough. Face mask on plane trips?
Doug- you’ve said it before but it bears re-examination - will this Raptors team “only be judged” by playoff performance? “Only” is a big word. You have tried to encourage us to enjoy the journey, appreciate the team game by game and follow all the many ways improvements can appear.
When it comes to how teams are judged we are up against human nature and all that goes into the idea that WINNING is all that matters. The Raps are giving us exciting, engaging moments- how can we learn to appreciate them more?
Charles N.

A: I’m probably too guilty of looking too much forward and basing the success or failure of this season on the coming playoffs rather than considering the journey, the nightly excitement and disappointments that come with an NBA season and, yeah, the stories that emerge.
I guess it’s just the times in which we live or something.
But I think we should appreciate the developing stories rather than the ultimate end, which odds say will be disappointing if a championship is the only stated goal.
Seeing how teammates meld together, how they handle the pressures of the day and grow, the athletic abilities on display; that’s most important.
Winning is the ultimate goal in a zero sum game but it’s not the only fun part of a season.
Q: Hi - I was just reading about the holiday track Jack and Eric recorded. Please tell us who, among the current and past Raptors has the best potential for producing a successful record. (Excluding Master P, who is a great trivia question) As a singer, that is! From the ads I've seen, I know Powell produces music.
A: Of the current ones, I’d probably go with Norm only, he seems to have some interest, although C.J. dabbled in some music composition early in his career.
All time? That’s a tough one because so many guys have come and gone but I do remember, outside of P that is, was Acie Earl did some music production. Not sure how serious it ever got but it was a thing with him.
Q: Hi Douglas,
A Very Merry Christmas to you, your family and all the other irregulars. Please keep up the great work that you do for at least another year or decade.
This is a question about tampering, It appears that some employees of teams are allowed to suggest, hint or outright talk about players on teams other than the team that they work for. Is this true? Are not the players employees of the team that they play for? Why can it be so widely reported that Player A would love to have Player B join him on his team when possible. Are the reports, innuendoes? The super teams just bother me , as does the double standard. It seems that the players are allowed to do it, but the teams get huge fines if any improprieties even appear to have occurred. Just my overly sensitive b.s. meter sounding off as I age. I think the answer would be to have large fines to the players commensurate with their salary should this occur. Policing it would be difficult, I am sure.
Nick from Niagara.
P.S. I do miss 35 cent Bon Villa draft.
A: Players are allowed, ownership and management are not, it’s actually just that simple. Here was a league statement to ESPN in the wake of LeBron’s Anthony Davis comments last week:
“Each case is assessed on its own facts. In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player.”
So, I don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon.
Man, the 35 cent drafts – a tray was always a solid order – and, I believe, Zappi’s pizza and maybe a pickled egg or two was a heckuva Bonny night, wasn’t it?
Q: Hey Doug:
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas. Hope you get to spend some meaningful time with the people that are most special to you.
Are you hoping to find a Remington under the tree (the one with keys, not bullets)?
Thinking of how much the reporting gig has changed since you started out as a young cub reporter. How did you file stories? Was it as shown in some many movies, rushing to a pay phone to dictate the story to someone at the desk?
Now I guess all you have to worry about is the network connections in the various arenas. Which ones are the best? The worst?
Finally, in the game Monday evening between the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves, Taj Gibson tried to block a shot – with his shoe in his hand. Was that legal? Should the refs have called goaltending?
Appreciated as always, looking forward to many more years of reading your insightful words.
A: Here’s the funny thing: It’s generally accepted knowledge among the beat grunts that the AT&T Center in San Antonio is by far the worst wireless connection in the league. I know, a communications company-named arena and it’s brutal.
The rest are pretty much the same across the board, good to very good.
The past? Well, I have dictated a story after I’ve typed it out on a typewriter, we used to have to have landlines with handsets that we could plug into acoustic couplers to transmit electronically when it first came into vogue.
Lots sure has changed.
The use of a shoe is not, as I understand it, legal and had it been actually involved in a play on the ball, a foul would have been called.
Q: Hey Doug,
In the pre-season and early days of the regular season, any commentary on the Celtics inevitably noted the difficulty of integrating Gordon Hayward into the lineup after his season-long absence following his “gruesome” injury. In seemingly every article, there was some strong adjective emphasizing how his injury was different than, say, a torn ACL or an injury requiring microfracture surgery, both of which could also have put a player out for an entire season and created the same re-integration problems. The same was done with Alex Smith in the NFL recently. My question to you is whether you think there is any journalistic purpose in continuing to remind readers (and put images in their heads) of the “gruesome-ness” of the injury as opposed to their rehab, timing of return and the impact on the team. To me there seems to be a bit of sensationalism in constantly going back to the injury itself. Thoughts?
Thanks, as always, and happy holidays (sorry for the “gruesome” question before Christmas)!
A: I think mentioning it gives context and that’s never a bad thing. Maybe not on every reference or in every story but if you want to re-assert the point of how far he’s come, you need at least a bit of context on how bad it was. Maybe there’s a better way to describe and I’ll keep it in mind.
Q: Sir: James Dolan has suggested he's had "feelers" for the Knicks at "upwards" of $5 Billion. Is this a pipe dream or realistic?
Paul M
A: The Clippers sold for $2 billion in 2014, I have no doubt the Knicks in 2019 would be in the $5 billion range.
Q: Thought there was some less than stellar Raptor coaching at the end of the game last night. Not the way I would have handled it (I know, I’m not the coach).
2.5 seconds left. Danny green hits the first of two free throws to put the Raptors up by two.
Immediately I’m yelling at the screen, “call time out and then miss the second free throw and DON”T FOUL but loosely contest any rebound”. A deflection off the rim very likely uses up 1-1.5 seconds (minimum) followed by (at the very worst) a loosely defended and very difficult hail Mary shot from 75 feet. Game over.
Instead, Green makes the second free throw to put the Raptors up by three (but still 2.5 seconds). Pacers deadball timeout moves the inbound to the front court (35 feet?). Sound coaching at that point would have put the five most cerebral defenders on the floor with the marching orders:
1. Allow only inbound towards mid court (away from the hoop)
The Raptors are very fortunate that a three point foul was not called at the buzzer. Brain cramp, big time. But shouldn’t have come down to that.
Side thought: the next time a Raptor defender allows a baseline inbound pass between him and the hoop (going back a few games), I’m going to go berserk. JV (not Val…) ball.
Side thought 2: I know it’s early but a trend is developing that could have a significant impact on the Raptors for next season. I know Leonard is widely recognized as one of the top 5-6 players in the NBA but the Raptors have shown considerable success when he’s not in the line up. He’s certainly not ‘Miss Congeniality’ on the floor but he may be much better in the locker room. If he’s serious about heading to LA after this season (or even if he’s not), I’m thinking the Raptors might be well served by not chasing him and rather using his cap space on addressing any spot(s) that could use an upgrade. I guess title/no title will help clarify the decision.
One more small item. Your earlier article this week referenced the Raptors/Pacers game on Tuesday. Proof reading?
Go Raptors.
Harry B, Campbell River
A: Why in the world would you intentionally miss a shot to set yourself up for a chance to lose rather than be tied? Seems utterly ridiculous to me. You miss the shot, Indy gets the rebound, calls timeout, advances the ball with a miracle shot to win rather than a miracle shot to tie? Makes no sense, and with all due respect, if I’m your GM and to do that, we have issues.
The Raptors will have no cap space regardless of what Leonard does or doesn’t do. It’s not a factor.
Q: Hello Doug,
I’m no statistics guy—that’s part of your job and you’re great at it—but it seems to me that Anunoby misses too many shots and takes too many of them. Am I wrong or, without forgetting he’s a young and promising player, is he just a bad shooter?
Jaime O.
A: I agree wholeheartedly agree he’s missing too many shots of late, particularly in the Denver game and from the free throw line, but I don’t think he takes too many and I’m willing to give a second year player a bit of break.
Q: Good afternoon Doug. I’m following up on my previous emails about the possibility of sharing a stool in San Antonio on January 2. You indicated in your November 11 Weekend Mailbag that you would be amenable to that if you did make it San Antonio. Have your travel plans been finalized and are you still interested in meeting up with a fellow traveler and sports fan? I’d appreciate it if you could let me know.
If it doesn’t happen, I’d like to wish you and your family all the best for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Keep up the amazing writing.
p.s. – I agree with you about Christmas cards. I enjoy getting them and enjoy sending them.
A: I would have answered this in another fashion but I cannot reply to e-mails sent to so this is the best I’ve got.
I am going to San Antonio but I have no idea what my day before the game is going to be like. Am pretty sure the day time will be spent at a Spurs practice to see DeMar and there might be a Raptors availability at night so, right now, I can’t confirm anything. It’s kind of how life is on the road, planning seems futile because something often comes up.
Q: League's final two minute report just said that there was a foul on OG on the final play in the game against the Pacers. However, I do not see how the contact in that play can possibly be more significant than the contact made by Green on JV in the Warriors game. If the explanation for a no foul on Green was that "hand is a part of the ball", then why doesn't this explanation apply to the OG missed non-called foul?
Bill W
A: We don’t know what the league saw when it reviewed the Green-Valanciunas play – and it reviews every play and every game – because they don’t make those reviews public outside of the Last 2 Minutes of close games. Maybe they did determine it was an incorrect non-call and, if so, it would have been added to the files on the officials.
But, by definition, the hand in contact with the ball is deemed to be part of the ball.
OG got the guy on the forearm.
Q: Hello Douglas,
How do our heroes keep winning games when half the rotation are in suits at the end of the bench? Simply put they are damn good and having a top 5 player like Kawhi always helps right.
What is super encouraging is that they are not yet clicking on all cylinders which makes waiting for the playoffs excruciating. But will enjoy the ride!
The only area of real concern is CJ Miles and his shot, I know he only plays 15-20 mins a night but nonetheless his shooting is critical for the 2nd unit. Has Father Time caught up CJ? Is Powell the answer? Is a trade the answer...personally would like to see a Brazmore type to add punch off the bench.
Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and good health!
Richmond Hill
A: As I type this they are 25-9 and have had the full roster together for precisely one game. I’d suggest they don’t have to do a single thing trade-wise, they need to get healthy for an extended period and figure out a rotation.
I presume you mean Kent Bazemore? Where in the world would he fit in the top10 of this team? Lowry, Green, Leonard, Siakam, Ibaka, VanVleet, Wright, Anunoby, Valanciunas, Miles/Powell. He’s not an upgrade on any of them.
The last thing they need is a trade right now.
And these are all very much appreciated.
Q: Doug,
Here you go. Feel free to print and put on the mantle.
A comment and a question. I have an older red Raptor jersey that I wear to games - #18 Anthony Parker. It was a gift, I assume purchased on deep discount once AP became a former Raptor, but I love it and wear it proudly. I've been sharing season seats since they moved into (INSERT SPONSOR DU JOUR HERE) Arena/Centre/Barn and I wear AP's name and number because I liked how he played and how he seemed to be a consummate pro, doing what his team(s) needed during a hardworking career. I cheer for the current squad but appreciate the pros that came before.
Taking off your journalist hat for a moment, assuming you're just Doug, NBA fan AND a person that wears jerseys (which I suspect you may not be), whose former Raptor or NBA jersey does Doug Smith wear and why? (We'll see you rocking a Mensah-Bonsu jersey someday, right?)
Best to all at Casa Doug and Mother Star,
It’s time to spread some holiday cheer,
And say thanks, dear scribe, for another year
Best wishes to Irregulars, both near and far
And to Doug’s heart doctor, this year’s all-star
To our favourite scribbler, our roundball bard
Here’s your virtual Christmas card.
A: Now, that’s a virtual card! Thank you very much.
You’re right, though, I am not in the least a jersey guy, never have been and can’t imagine I ever would be. But, of the Raptors, if I absolutely had to choose one?
I bet I’d end up with a Calderon jersey. Given all he had to get through – coming to a new country and a new league and basically a new game with no real support system and no ability to speak the language and turning himself into a 15-year NBA guy? That’s dang impressive, no? Plus, one of the all-time good, normal guys you’d ever be lucky enough to meet.
Q: To Doug and all irregulars, compliments of two seasons, both this endlessly interesting 2018-19 NBA edition (LeBron announcing an early start to the 2020 free agent fest, anyone?) and more traditional winter solstice celebrations of choice. I wonder whether this rash of injuries (the HOTH were almost supernaturally healthy last year) might be a blessing in disguise, in the form of increased floor time and a confidence boost for (among others) Norman Powell, my favourite x-factor. Were he ever to recover his form from a couple of years ago, this very good team could take a further leap. Most impressive to me recently has been their defence, keyed by the brilliant Leonard. What a treat to watch him game after game, for whatever length of time.
It’s a real pleasure as always to follow things through your eyes; I’ve learned over the years to trust your perceptions. I was particularly tickled when you named every player who contributed to Canada’s men returning to international championship competition. Nice touch.
This was once a traditional time of tune exchange in this corner of the Internet and I submit a couple I’ve run across this week:
James A., Victoria
A: I agree that a lot of guys are getting time now that may serve the team well in the future and they’re still winning so all’s well. I also agree that Powell might become the 10th man over Miles at some point but we’re not there yet.
And, yeah, holiday tunes are cool and the best from me and mine to you and yours.
Q: Greetings Mr Smith,
Nothing really Rap's related here just taking a moment to wish you and yours, a Merry Christmas and best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.
As the world seems to change constantly, sometimes for the better and sometimes not, it is a comforting moment to visit your corner and check in with what is the topic(s) of the day.
Truly, thanks for what you do,
Doug from B-ford
A: I appreciate that very much.
Merry Christmas.
Q: Hello Doug,
No question this week. I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and HEALTHY 2019! Please also send my best to those that are responsible for keeping you going so that I can enjoy your grounding and calming analysis that keeps me sane throughout the long NBA season. I couldn’t do it without your blog/emails/articles.
Also, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the Irregulars out there!
A: I very much appreciate the sentiment and the thoughts. Merry Christmas to you.
Q: Hi Doug,
First I want to wish you and all of yours a very very MERRY CHRISTMAS and best wishes for the New Year. May you have health, happiness and love of friends and family for 2019.
In the past, you have occasionally put up videos during the Christmas season. Might I suggest, for those interested these two uniquely Canadian Christmas Songs, beloved by those of us of a certain age.
First, Bob and Doug MacKenzie (?McKenzie)
And second of course, the Northern Lights..
A: There you go, suggestion shared.
And thanks very much, Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well.
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