Plea to Raptor Fans, Don’t Boo Chris Bosh!

Chris Bosh released his inner cave man more than a few times as a member of the Raptors

In a quiet, undramatic divorce, not like those ones you see on Divorce Court, Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors parted ways after a 7 year long-term relationship. The break up wasn’t messy but it was by no means mutual as the breaker certainly offended the breakee.

GM Bryan Colangelo went as far to say that Bosh didn’t care down the stretch run of the 2009-10 season. “Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn’t quite into it down the stretch, he wasn’t the same guy,” Colangelo said. “I think everybody saw that, but no one wanted to acknowledge it.” Head Coach Jay Triano further stated that “When you talk about Chris being a leader in the locker room, I think it’s the one thing he wasn’t for us.” Hard feelings much?

Today, Chris Bosh returns to Toronto for the first time since his decision to join Dwyane Wade and Lebron James in Miami. Yes, Lebron James too.

With Bosh essentially leaving fans and most importantly the Raptor organization hanging, it is no wonder why many people expressed their resentment towards Chris Bosh. It wasn’t the first time that their franchise player bailed on them. 3 high draft picks in Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter that had the possibility to carry the franchise all stated their desire to leave the city at some point in their tenure with the Raptors. Not to mention Hedo Turkoglu who requested a trade after one tumultuous season.

It was all too familiar to Raptor fans. Except in this case, like a good stripper, Chris Bosh teased Canadian basketball junkies into thinking he might just come back. However, like a good stripper, the hope dangling in front of them never materialized.

Even though Bosh gave us Raptor fans a good long tease that only ended in disappointment, I am asking you not to boo the man who gave you seven hard-fought seasons.

I understand your pain, but this time the circumstances are entirely different. Chris Bosh didn’t quit like Vince Carter or cry to his General Manager like Damon Stoudamire. He played out the entire length of his contract like a real man should, and wasn’t making any excuses for his team’s lack of success. Almost every night Bosh put his heart and soul on the floor for the Raptors.

It was also the behind the scenes work that makes Bosh different from previous Raptor defectors. His mid-range jumper is as reliable as anyone’s in the NBA and while his size may still be a problem Bosh he worked his tail off in order to add muscle to his 6”10 frame. The growth of Chris Bosh is a product of his effort as Raptor colour man Jack Armstrong likes to say, “Input equals output.”

It became apparent that Chris Bosh was not a franchise player and building the team around him as your cornerstone was not going to work. Nevertheless, you can hardly blame Bosh for that. It isn’t his fault that he can’t carry an entire team on his back like his new teammates Lebron and Wade. His rebounding may not be that of a top NBA rebounder, but he was still a legitimate 20-10 guy. On a nightly basis you could count on his consistency. He didn’t get his shiny new contract for no reason now did he?

Chris Bosh might not have handled his situation as well as Toronto’s other former franchise player Roy Halladay, but he also isn’t a robot like Roy Halladay. Bosh doesn’t just exhibit human emotions either, he exhibits human emotions that are likeable and entertaining. His passion on the court at times was like none other. He was genuine in his attempt to make the Raptors a true contender.

I think after this divorce Raptor fans have forgotten what a great guy Bosh is off the court, which is part of what made us to fall for the guy. Remember this all-star advertisement?

The situation at hand isn’t about forgiving and forgetting because Chris Bosh has nothing to be sorry for. Bosh doesn’t deserve to get what seems to be the inevitable, a hate filled homecoming. He doesn’t deserve to get booed from the fans that he worked so hard to please for seven seasons. He didn’t Lebron James his city or Carmelo Anthony his teammates. Chris Bosh deserves a cheer and I ask you Raptor fans to give him one.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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Milos Raonic — The Next Great One?

Milos Raonic became the first Canadian to win an ATP event since 1995 on Sunday

Riddle me this. What’s 6 foot 5, 20 years old, and can serve a tennis ball 147 miles per hour?

You’re telling me that you don’t know. I guess I can tell you then. It’s Milos Raonic. Milos who?

In less than a month Milos Raonic has shot up the ATP rankings all the way up to 59th after becoming the first Canadian since 1995 to win an ATP tour event today. He knocked off Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 7-6 in a match where there was not one break of serve. Don’t let that stat fool you though, this man ain’t your run of the mill big boy server.

This may have been Raonic’s first tour victory, but this all started with his run at the Australian Open where he reached 4th round of the Australian Open losing out to the Spaniard David Ferrer. Despite the defeat, even the brightest mind in tennis took notice as John McEnroe tweeted that Raonic is “the real deal.”

Born in the former Yugoslavia and raised in Thornhill, Ontario, is it possible that Canada’s first true relevant tennis player could be the next great player as well?

He may be 5 inches taller, but with constant comparisons to Pistol Pete Sampras and high praise from respected people around the tennis world it definitely isn’t out of the question to see Raonic at the top of the sport in a few years.

Milos Raonic has been compared to the great Pete Sampras

As you probably gathered from the opening riddle, Raonic serves like no one else on tour. He may not be the true definition of a serve and volley player like Sampras was, but his net game is still very polished. He likes to come to net and once he’s up there it is no easy task for his opponent to hit a passing shot around his 6 foot 5 frame.

However, his ground game too often resembles that of John Isner’s as he is unable to hang in extended rally’s much of the time. There are a couple of positives though when it comes to his ground strokes. First off, he hits the ball with a lot of force when he gets it right and is able to hit the power winner’s that you need for those all important cheap points (other than the ones he gets off his serve).

I think though that the most significant aspect of his repertoire is that he is just 20 years of age. He has lots of time to improve his ground strokes, which will allow him to at least be able to compete in rallies with the best in the business.

How about another riddle then. What separates the guys like Nadal and Federer from the rest of the pack?

It’s not their incredible collection of abilities if that’s what you were thinking. Give up, again? It’s the quality that you can’t teach anyone, clutch play. Just give Greg Norman a call, he can confirm that for you.

Milos Raonic has shown some of that Jordan-esque capability of coming up big when you need it most. Well, maybe not quite Jordan-esque but you get where I’m coming from.

It was apparent that Raonic was unphased by the grand stage of the Australian Open and simply lost to a better David Ferrer who has arguably the best return of serve on tour. He gave further proof of his clutch play last night when he staved off 4 set points in the first set tie-breaker versus Fernando Verdasco. Was Raonic that clutch or was Verdasco that choke? Probably a combination of the two, but to have the mental toughness to come back from down 6-2 in your first ever ATP Final is something special from such a young man.

Moreover, his serve and volley type of game should force opponents to rethink their strategy in this rally-dominated era of tennis.

I’m going to wimp out here a bit and say that I have absolutely no idea if this guy IS in fact the next one. He is an undeniable top 10 player and from the looks of it that ranking shouldn’t be too far. However, the jump from top 10 to best in the one world is a massive one and right now I think we’re going to have to let Mr. Raonic thaw for some time before making any snap judgements.

Can’t get enough tennis? Check out my most recent tennis post about Roger Federer’s reign as the King of Tennis.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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NHL Head Shots

Matt Cooke has become the most hated player in the NHL

Despite self-serving pronouncements, the NHL head office has been very apathetic over the past couple of years in its efforts to crack down on players who recklessly cause head injuries. In fact, the only cracking that we have seen is the heads of the players who continue to be illegally targeted by these cheap shot artists.

However, it is possible that the NHL may now have wakened up to the issue because the biggest star in the NHL constellation – Sidney Crosby – has been seriously injured by an illegal hit to the head. Although Dave Steckel was not suspended for his dirty hit on Crosby at the Winter Classic, head of officiating Colin Campbell and the NHL handed down a 6 game suspension to Calgary Flames Tom Kostopolous for his brutal shot to Brad Stuart just a few days later.

The injury to Crosby, from which he has still for recovered, had motivated the NHL to finally do the right thing and give a legitimate penalty that will deter players from committing these illegal acts in the future.

It seemed like a step in the right direction.

However, this prettier picture was short-lived. The NHL doesn’t seem to understand what it takes to actually stop the hits from coming because following an intent to injure knee on knee by Matt Cooke on arguably the NHL’s most popular player Alex Ovechkin, Cooke was not suspended. Surprise.

Wouldn’t you know it, Matt Cooke then made sure he was suspended for this hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He got 4 games.

Really? 4 games? It’s unbelievable that the NHL can’t just open their freaking eyes. Matt Cooke isn’t just a repeat offender, he’s a multi-multi-peat offender.

Cooke has become a household name in hockey land for his filthy play. His elbow to the head of Marc Savard being the most well-known in his long line of “highlights,” which in hindsight may have signalled the beginning of the end of the productive career of Savard.

With the onslaught of dirty hits continuing, and the medical knowledge of the devastating effects of concussion increasing, the NHL had looked to be finally grasping the obvious point that, in order to protect its players and its game, it needs to place severe penalties on the players carrying out these actions.

I guess not.

Prior to the Tom Kostopolous suspension, most of the penalties issued by the NHL were either 1 or 2 game suspensions for hits of a similar manner. The problem is that with the amount of money these guys make a couple of games is not enough of a deterrent. Moreover, being suspended for 1 or 2 games out of an entire 82 game season does not penalize the player’s team enough either as they would only lose their player for a very small portion of the season.

20 Games, now that’s a real penalty. Is Matt Cooke or anyone else for that matter actually going to pull another one of their career threatening stunts if the possibility of being out for a quarter of the season is on the table?

Tom Kostopolous got what he deserved as someone who was a second-time offender. He sent out a statement to the NHL expressing his feelings towards the suspension saying that he was “extremely disappointed” in the ruling. Anger and resentment, those are the feelings that you want player’s to have when they get suspended because those are the feelings that will be in their minds the next time they think of doing something vicious.

What about Matt Cooke? I think he’s still applauding the NHL’s decision…even after 3 days.

Protecting their players, especially star ones, should be the number one priority of the National Hockey League because obviously if these top tier players are consistently being forced out for long periods of time as a result of illegal hits, the league itself will suffer a drop in its entertainment value. With an already struggling situation in many franchises south of the border, the league cannot afford to have their star players, such as Sidney Crosby, sit out for an extended period of time.

It may be selfish thinking, but the NHL should be protecting its players for the leagues own good, not only for the good of its player’s health and longevity now and after hockey.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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Rings Don’t Mean a Thing

What if Ben Roethlisberger had done that again this year?

2 rings. Coulda been 3 Big Ben.

1 touchdown away from Super Bowl immortality. A perfect execution of the 2 minute drill the only obstacle in his way. Alas, it was not meant to be.

As good a quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger is, his performance in the Super Bowl showed us why we shouldn’t base so much of a player’s value on championship victories.

Prior to the Super Bowl, there was a lot talk of whether or not Ben Roethlisberger is deserving of a Hall of Fame spot. Tough question considering the man is only 28 years old and at this point there is probably not too much point in dissecting this issue.

Ben Roethlisberger’s overall numbers are not Hall of Fame worthy by any means. However, the fact that he has 2 championship rings and was very close to 3 puts him into that discussion. A couple bounces here and there for the Steelers and the difference in our view of Ben Roethlisberger is vastly changed.

The issue at hand here though are the championships that allow Ben Roethlisberger to be considered in Hall of Fame discussion so early in his career and the lack of championships that see us questioning the greatness of athletes such as Dan Marino.

Clutch play under the most pressure packed situations is part of what defines great players. It should go without saying that part of winning championships is the ability to overcome the difficult conditions.

With that being said, it’s hard to understand why the brilliance of an individual player is centered so much around championships in such team oriented sports.

It is only on rare occasions where you will see me defending Lebron James but the fact that he still hasn’t won a championship at this point in his career should not diminish his greatness in any sense. Don’t get me wrong, I was as happy as anyone to see Lebron quit, yes quit, on his Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics. Nevertheless, now that we have been able to see what the Chosen One’s supporting cast is really like it is astounding that he ever got as close as he did to winning the NBA finals.

Imagine if Lebron had decided to stay in Cleveland and continually was surrounded by a sorry excuse for championship contending cast. If those were the circumstances, maybe in 10 years we would be talking about how Lebron just can’t win the big game and all the reasons why he is no Michael Jordan. True, Lebron James is no Michael Jordan, but the importance of championships is constantly overshadowing his undeniable dominance.

If he doesn’t win a championship with his Miami Heat, well that’s a story for another day.

Ben Roethlisberger has played on some outstanding teams and, especially in his first Super Bowl, played more of a game manger’s role. Is there any way in which the Steelers’ could have won if Roethlisberger had to carry an increased load on offence? Probably not. It isn’t mentioned enough either that the Steelers won Roethlisberger’s first Super Bowl largely because of a couple of blown calls that still give official Bill Leavy nightmares

1 ring and the Hall of Fame talk disappears. 3 rings, suddenly Roethlisberger is thrust alongside the Troy Aikman’s and Terry Bradshaw’s.

I may be too young to break down the intricacies of Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphin teams. However, it is well-known that he wasn’t surrounded by talent that for the most part was championship worthy. You can’t blame Dan Marino for being unable to bear the burden of less than adequate teams.

It’s this same injustice that results in more worthy players being left off all-star team’s because their general manager has yet to surround them with talent worthy enough of competing with the best in the game. *Cough* Kevin Love *Cough*

Sure, some of the failure to win comes from the individual player himself, but in team sports like basketball, football and hockey, you can hardly put the sole cause of that inability to win on the most prominent player like many people do.

Peyton Manning has proven to us throughout his career that he often doesn’t have the capability to duplicate his regular season type of performances in the playoffs. Even in his lone Super Bowl victory his stats were less than impressive. Then again, what if Peyton Manning had an offensive line similar to the one Tom Brady has been blessed with throughout his career.

Again, a completely different story to tell your grandchildren.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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What’s the Deal with Reputation?

Troy Polamalu has increased his popularity through his Head and Shoulders commercials

Sometimes a reputation can mean everything in life. It can determine how much you like a person before you meet them. It can be the difference in getting a job between you and that other guy. Oh yeah, reputation can also be the deciding factor in receiving an award.

Not to take anything away from the great Troy Polamalu, but yesterday he undeservingly won the defensive player of the year award. He edged out Clay Matthews, who was thought to be the consensus top defensive player this year, and was even mentioned in MVP talks. Guess not.

It’s obvious, Troy Polamalu won on reputation.

There is no doubt that Polamalu is an outstanding player, possibly the best defensive player in the NFL. Troy Polamalu epitomizes what a game changer should be while his 63 total tackles and 7 interceptions prove that. However, the fact of the matter is that this award is given out based on a single season of play, not on career achievements.

Clay Matthews had a better season hands down. Matthews had 14 sacks, 60 tackles, an interception and gave offensive coordinators fits each and every week with his relentless pressure. Furthermore, Polamalu missed two games during the season, in which his team went 1-1, whereas Matthews missed none. It isn’t Polamalu’s fault that he missed 2 games because of injury. Nevertheless, it does diminish the impact of his season and should have impacted his standing in the race for this award.

The problem is that this isn’t the first time that a player has won based on reputation. This is an occurrence that happens all too often in professional sports. The players who have not “paid their dues” are discounted by voters who favour the sexier, more well-known choice.

Each year, Derek Jeter is given the gold glove despite his declining defensive play, mainly his range or lack thereof. Jeter is often voted by players as the most overrated player in baseball, yet award voters continue to favour him.

Derek Jeter has won the gold glove award on 5 separate occasions

Why? Jeter is the poster boy for not only the New York Yankees but also Major League Baseball. There isn’t a guy with a more stand up reputation than Derek Jeter as he is one of the most renowned sports figures in North America.

Moreover, it is apparent that many voters simply fail to open their eyes to what is going on around them. There are at least 30 teams in 4 major North American sports and deserving players for these lesser, yet still important, awards are overlooked because of ignorance. It is difficult to keep an eye to what is going on around the league, but it by no means is impossible.

It isn’t nearly as common to see more clear-cut awards, such as MVP, go completely in the wrong direction because generally the players in the running for those awards either have already built up a reputation as a great player, which is why they are up for the award, or the player has received so much national exposure because of the fact that he is in the running for the award.

Troy Polamalu may be a great player, but his national coverage as a result of his Head and Shoulders commercials sure hasn’t hurt his reputation and has caused him to be an even greater sensation in the NFL. For your consideration, Troy Polamalu’s jersey is the #1 selling jersey in the NFL.

Former CFLer and current Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake did not even receive a single vote with regards to the defensive player of the year award. However, he was named to Peter King’s all-pro team, finished the season with 14 sacks, the second most tackles for loss, and drew the most holding calls of any player in the league. It’s a shame that he is a virtual unknown around the league compared to guys like Ed Reed, James Harrison, Julius Peppers and of course Troy Polamalu.

It’s much more straightforward for voters to go with the players who have garnered a premiere status in their respective league. Not nearly as much controversy is likely to come about when you go with a guy who is highly respected around the league.

Pavel Datsyuk won his 3rd consecutive Frank J. Selke award last season as the NHL’s best defensive (two-way) forward. He edged out Vancouver Canuck forward Ryan Kesler by 33 total points and 1 first place vote. I may be biased here, as I am a Vancouver fan and am privileged to watch Kesler on a night-to-night basis, but it seems to me that if it was Kesler with the 2 prior Selke trophies he would have taken the award home last year.

This effect of reputation is just another one of those sad facts of life. Has a teacher ever gotten mad at you for talking in class even though it was someone else?

To a smaller extent, even something as simple as all-star games exhibit this fact. Fans vote in their favourites and their choice is largely based on popularity, the cousin of reputation. In recent years, a situations like Allen Iverson, in which he was voted as an Eastern Conference starter last season, takes away a spot from an actual deserving all-star.

It flat out isn’t fair that players are repeatedly rewarded based on things that they have accomplished in the past. It isn’t fair to the fans but most importantly it isn’t fair to the athletes that work their ass off their entire life only to be snubbed (not to say that the recipient of the award hasn’t worked hard either). A player who hasn’t built up that reputation may only have the one season of greatness, but it may not be recognized by the voters whose narrow-minds keep them from acknowledging the truly deserving athletes.

Figure it out.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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