Never an Idea

Bryan Colangelo

Sometimes in life, it is a good idea to go with the flow. Be spontaneous. Live in the moment. Don’t worry about what is next and just let life come to you.

Solid advice. Except, not when you’re the general manager of a professional basketball franchise.

Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors, that’s the way Bryan Colangelo seemed to run his operation on far too many occasions.

It appeared that Bryan Colangelo’s option year would be picked up by MLSE. That is until Tom Leiweke was hired to be the President and CEO of MLSE. After keeping Colangelo in limbo, reports are that Leiweke and MLSE have decided to move the once hyped GM into a corporate, non-basketball role.

After being foolishly extended 2 years ago, Colangelo has rightly been ousted from his position.

Bryan Colangelo wasn’t simply a bad general manager. What made matters worse was that, at a certain point, it became apparent that he was more concerned with keeping his job than building a true contender.

Moves were made on the fly as players would become available. They were not based around a master plan that all GM’s should have. Colangelo lost sight of the big picture and focused more on doing things for the short-term. Moves that he hoped would finally bring the Raptors back into the playoffs. A first round post-season exit would not have phased him because, to the general public, it would have signalled steps in the right direction.

Jerry Colangelo he was not.

The most recent change Colangelo made to the roster was bringing in Rudy Gay, a supremely talented individual scorer. A player who should be able to bring the Raptors to the playoffs next season. The move was flawed from the beginning though. It was only done because the opportunity arose. Otherwise, why extend DeMar DeRozan, the poor man’s Rudy Gay?

But Colangelo could get Rudy Gay at a steal of a price. He sold high on Ed Davis, a solid power forward with a limited ceiling.

The deal on paper was fine. It made the Raptors a better team and brought excitement to the city. However, the deal cost the team much more than Ed Davis and Rudy Gay’s excessively high salary. Once again, it mortgaged the Toronto Raptors long-term future. It was, at least, another two years of mediocrity before the healing could really begin.

The brightest executive on the planet won’t be able to change that.

The past year have featured some of Colangelo’s other finest moments. First, it was trying to bring in Steve Nash with the reason being, well, no particular reason. The man who turned Bryan Colangelo from the son of Jerry Colangelo into ingenious NBA executive couldn’t do anything to save this team. Still, Colangelo tried to seal the deal and he ended up wasting 3 years and $19 million on Landry Fields.

Welp, Steve Nash did not work out so Colangelo had to improvise as he had done time after time during his tenure. He traded a 1st round pick for Kyle Lowry who was given the keys to the franchise. Keys to the franchise? Lowry couldn’t even keep his starting job.

Related: Head Over…Head for Steve Nash

Kyle Lowry wasn’t able to turn the keys of the franchise the right way so Colangelo had to work his magic again. He found Rudy Gay. If he hadn’t used the “keys to the franchise” line at the Kyle Lowry-Landry Fields press conference, he certainly would have used it on Rudy Gay.

Luckily for Bryan Colangelo, Bryan Colangelo was always a fantastic salesman. If he sold Bentley’s, I would probably buy one even though it would take me 35 years to pay it off. He and former Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Retardi..err Riccardi are very similar. In spite of poor decision after poor decision, they both had the ability to assure their bosses and the fans that there were greener pastures on the horizon. It allowed them to stay much longer than they should have.

If there was one person who could write a book entitled “how to keep your job as a general manager”, Bryan Colangelo would be the author. Mike Milbury and Matt Millen would even learn a thing or two from it.

A couple of weeks ago, Bryan Colangelo presented his supposed plan to Tom Leiweke and the board of directors at MLSE. I wouldn’t be surprised if Colangelo walked into the meeting with a blank piece of paper and handed it to Tom Leiweke.

From the moment when Colangelo’s attempted to convince Chris Bosh into staying in Toronto with a roster featuring Hedo Turkoglu, there has been no one direction (yes, pun intended!) that the franchise has gone. Colangelo has steered the franchise as if he had a broken compass.

His talking of the talk afforded him opportunity after opportunity. He somehow turned perennial underachieving into 7 years as the decision maker for the Toronto Raptors, which makes him the longest tenured GM in the franchise’s history.

Although the future is brighter for the Raptors sans Colangelo, the damage has already been done. Without any real idea of how he would go about creating a contender, Bryan Colagelo has the Raptors stuck in gear 3. Too good for Andrew Wiggins, not good enough to even sniff the second round of the playoffs.

A new general manager can only do so much.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.

The Everyman Star

The word ‘superstar’ is thrown around a lot these days.

In game 1 of the Denver-Golden State series, Doris Burke was foolishly anointing Ty Lawson a superstar on the rise. Doris Burke was just doing what so many analysts do. Hyperbolizing the stardom of professional athletes. Those who are only well-known to fans following the particular sport and understand that athlete’s greatness within their sport.

Ty Lawson is not even a star, much less a superstar.

Heck, I would argue that Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are the NBA’s only two true superstars. They are the only players that have a significant reach to the public beyond those who care about basketball.

Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard are stars. They will be known to the average sports fan. However, my mom is going to be utterly confused if I start a sentence involving any of those guys.

Steph Curry?

He is well be on his way to surpassing those stars and he just might be knocking on the door of legitimate superstardom. Kobe/Lebron territory and that’s no joke. Steph Curry is everything that Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are not. He has something that none of them will ever have.

He is relatable.

No, he isn’t tiny like Muggsy Bogues. But Steph Curry isn’t imposing either. He is an unintimidating 6 foot 3, 185 pounds. He went to a small school because no one thought he was good enough. He beat the odds in a Cinderella-like fashion.

His game isn’t intimidating either. He has that silky smooth jumper we all wish we had but he can’t just pull up whenever he wants. Remember, he is not 6 foot 9. He is the opposite of physically dominating. He has crazy handles but they aren’t made for an And1 street ball mix tape in a Jamal Crawford style.

Despite the fact that his Dad, Dell Curry, played in the NBA, there is no sense of entitlement or superiority. There is no gorilla chest pounding after a slam dunk in a meaningless first round series against a relatively hapless opponent.

There is passion though. Lots of it. The man is not without personality by any means. He gets pumped in a manner that doesn’t come across as smug or arrogant. He reacts to the energy of the game the way many of us probably imagine we would as well.

Steph Curry could be this generation’s Allen Iverson, except he won’t be broke at 35. He is not the same player as Allen Iverson in any sense but his appeal to fans is similar.

He is the little engine that could.

With a bum ankle, unthinkable scoop shots, rainbow 3’s and one-handed dimes, Curry carried the Golden State Warriors to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Although their double-double machine David Lee was missing for most of the series, Curry was still able to step up and did so at the most opportune moments as only a superstar can.

Most importantly, Steph Curry is a joy to watch. There is more to his game for the average viewer than say, a Chris Paul. You don’t have to be a basketball person to appreciate what Curry does on a night-to-night basis.

He needs a championship calibre team though. No one becomes a superstar without championship runs. Multiple championship runs. Steph Curry could possibly be the scorer’s version of Steve Nash, who is a borderline superstar in his own right (Note: He is a superstar in Canada). Playing in a run and gun system that never fails to generate excitement, Curry already has a sidekick for years to come in fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

With a guy like Curry, any franchise has the ability to build a team good enough to make a run a championships for years to come.

Without Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Jeremy Lin in the 2013 NBA playoffs, Steph Curry has become the darling of the entire league. The underdog role fits him more perfectly than, well, a glass slipper.

Steph Curry won’t be able to shake that label but that isn’t a bad thing. He will always be the little man beating the odds. As a professional athlete, it is what makes him so endearing. To think, this is just year 1 of his rise to stardom. As long as he stays healthy, he will be one of the NBA’s premier stars.

With a little bit of luck, he might be a superstar too.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.

Monday’s 7 Casual Contemplations

Steve nash

It’s Monday and the past weekend has filled me with some contemplations of a casual nature. I know it’s been a while but I want to start your work week off right. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s 7 somewhat thought out points from the week that was.

Hangover Cure anyone?

For those of you who don’t believe in the Super Bowl hangover, you might want to rethink that. The New York Giants are a prime example of a team that is clearly hung over. When it comes to the Giants, it is pretty much expected that when their backs are up against the wall, the switch will suddenly turn on. They have done it so much that we assumed another typical clutch performance would come from the Giants against the reeling Ravens yesterday.

The Giants decided not to follow the script.

Instead, they gave a hapless performance and the New York Giants looked like dwarves against a Baltimore Ravens team that has been brutal on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. For a game that they almost had to have, the lack of motivation and intensity shouldn’t be all that surprising. That’s what a hangover will do to a team.

New York is still not out of the playoffs but they might as well be because this hangover thing isn’t going away anytime soon. A big performance in week 17 can’t change that.

No Doubt

The Seattle Seahawks sent a message that was louder than the fans at Century Link Field on Sunday. They are for real and are not going anywhere. Crushing Arizona and Buffalo was one thing but smoking a San Francisco team fresh off its very own statement win against New England is quite another. Along with Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano, Pete Carroll is squashing the notion that college coaches can’t make the transition to the NFL.

This obviously isn’t news to anyone that the Seahawks are a real threat out of the NFC. Nevertheless, the evolution of their team throughout the season has been incredibly impressive. Marshawn Lynch no longer has to carry this football team as Russell Wilson has gone from game manager to game changer in the span of less than a season. The Seahawks may lack the game breaker on the outside but that defence combined with an ever maturing offence is scary for anyone that may have to face the Seahawks in January.

If Qwest Field was still the name of the Seahawks home field, I would probably have made some lame pun about them being on a quest for a Super Bowl…but I won’t do that.

Quarterback Controversy?

Speaking of game changers, Colin Kaepernick hasn’t lost that part of his game. It is an aspect that Alex Smith will never add to his repertoire. Smith was ever so close to leading the 49ers to a the championship game last year but it’s still game changers that win Super Bowls.

Just don’t tell Trent Dilfer.

Jim Harbaugh is going with Colin Kaepernick and rightly so. The 49ers had already reached the point of no return before this week’s debacle in Seattle. Kaepernick is the starter for the foreseeable future and his performance in Seattle sure as hell didn’t change that. There is no quarterback controversy no matter what the media says, so don’t go on increasing ESPN’s page views to express your opinion on the issue. It’s a non-issue, deal with it.

Kid Canada

Following Steve Nash’s heroic return to the lineup on Saturday, the Knicks-Lakers game on the 25th is now as marquee as a matchup gets. However, the result on Christmas day still won’t be a true indicator of how realistic the Lakers championship aspirations are.

As bad as the Lakers have been, it doesn’t mean a thing without Steve Nash in the lineup and now they’re going to need a lot more time to figure it out with Nash. Their defence is still going to be a big problem as we saw in their comeback win against the Warriors but offensively the Lakers will resemble something much closer to a well-oiled machine with Nash back running the point.

Their showdown with the Knicks tomorrow is no doubt intriguing but another destruction at the hands of New York’s superior team should not be too concerning for Los Angeles.

M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!

Turn out the lights because the party is over.

Peyton Manning is the National Football League’s most valuable player and comeback player of the year. While Manning shredded the Cleveland Browns, Adrian Peterson was busy mustering out 86 very hard fought yards against the Houston Texans and Tom Brady was struggling his way through the Jaguars vaunted defense.

Peyton Manning was already the odds on favourite heading into week 16 and his performance sealed the deal.

It should be noted that as amazing as all-day Adrian Peterson has been this year, he was not the reason the Minnesota Vikings got off to their hot start in September. Remember when we thought Christian Ponder might actually be good?

The MVP has to go to Peyton Manning and Week 17 won’t change anything.

Shame Bowl

Jacksonville will be fighting the Kansas City Chiefs for the coveted 1st overall pick in April’s draft in week 17. While both teams could use a franchise quarterback, this year’s class might not be as enticing as the 2012 class that included Andrew Luck and RGIII.

Matt Barkley’s stock has fallen substantially and Geno Smith would be a stretch to take at number 1. Unfortunately for these two teams, RGIII’s and Andrew Luck’s aren’t a part of every single draft class and they’re just going to have to make do with the less than stellar quarterback class of 2013.

All hail Brady Quinn…I guess.

5 Consecutive Baby!

Canada’s team, the Toronto Raptors, are heading into the Christmas Break with a 5 game winning streak after starting the season 5-19.

I smell a championship. Book it.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Hating on Howard Will Stop

It’s a match made in heaven that even eHarmony could have figured out. The Hollywood personality finally getting a taste of what Hollywood life is.

Dwight Howard and Brooklyn never really seemed right.

Now it’s time for the public to stop hating on Dwight Howard. I’m not telling them to stop hating. Rather, I’m saying it’s only a matter of time before Howard starts to feel the love again.

People are already starting to forget about the whole ‘indecision’ saga and are envisioning the Lakers sexy starting 5 of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta Word Peace, Pau Gasol and Superman himself. They are talking about whether the Lakers have the depth to match up against the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat. They are dreaming of alley-hoops and comedy sketches between one of the all-time great point guards and one of the most athletic 7-footers to ever step foot on an NBA floor.

I said all the way back in March that Dwight Howard will only be booed by the Orlando fans. Heck, that might not even be the case anymore by the time the Lakers take the court in Orlando next season.

The sports world is a very forgiving one.

A lot of guys would now rather have a beer with Tiger Woods, for reasons you can imagine, than condemn him like so many did only a couple of years ago. Michael Vick has gone from dog fighter back to NFL fan favourite, you know, when he’s not injured. Lebron James is no longer a villain simply because he won a championship and, apparently, winning cures all that ails.

People were appalled when Tiger Woods was caught cheating with 896 women. They were disgusted when Michael Vick was found to be cruel and unusual to man’s best friend. Clevelanders and non-Clevelanders burned jerseys and tore down posters when Lebron somewhat predictably spurned the Cavs.

However, people seem genuinely excited about the possibilities with Dwight Howard in a Lakers uniform.

Dwight Howard’s situation is not nearly as shocking as the others because his events were dragged out over the course of the past year. Nevertheless, hate is not the word that would define the reaction to Superman’s relocation.

Now that it is all over, Dwight Howard will probably get nothing more than a slap on the wrist in comparison to Lebron James. The NBA world will forget about Dwight Howard as fast as they will forget about 95% of the athletes in the 2012 Olympics. His immaturity will soon turn back to lovability.

D-12 is no longer the focal point either. He is the 3rd superstar on one of Los Angeles’s many prominent professional sports teams.

Dwight Howard toyed with a fan base that isn’t close to a championship with or without him. The rest of the NBA was just annoyed. Unlike Lebron James, who’s decision felt like a Mike Tyson punch to the noggin, all Dwight Howard kept doing was poking us in the arm like an infuriating little brother would.

The indecision wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It only felt like that in the moment.

The NBA world jumped on the hate Howard bandwagon. Most of them aren’t real Dwight Howard haters though. They have already jumped off and are running after the LA Lakers wagon.

Dwight Howard and all.

Also, please vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! I am one of the 24 finalists and I need your votes. It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts. Agree? Disagree? You can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

I know I have missed the last 3 weeks but considering that It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports, I felt I should get back on the horse. Unfortunately for those of us not still in elementary or high school, it’s Monday so let’s get to the contemplations. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

Help Me Become Canada’s Next Sportscaster!

Reminder or in case you did not know: I was selected as a top 24 finalist for theScore’s (a TV sports station in Canada) Gillette Drafted competition, which is the search for Canada’s next great sportscaster and I need your help. That’s right, your help.

Voting has become an integral part of the process and I need as much support as I can possibly get. Shameless self promotion is key and what I ask of my blog readers is to go to my voting page http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/ and vote every day. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, strangers, pets and just about anything that could possibly work a computer to vote as well.

Thank you for all your support in advance. It is unbelievable to know that I have the backing of so many people in the hope of achieving my dream job.

Jeremy Lin a Rocket?

Isn’t this Lin-teresting. Jeremy Lin might actually be going to Houston. That’s quite a shocker.

The contract is ridiculous but I think the Knicks will never hear the end of it if Jeremy Lin turns out to be a quality point guard in the NBA. Raymond Felton thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s offense without Carmelo Anthony. He has struggled ever since getting traded from the Knicks and who knows how he will perform in a brand new offense. Jason Kidd is 39.

You add in the business side of this equation and it seems like an odd decision (Stephen A. Smith would disagree) on the Knicks part to let Linsanity go in favour of Raymond Felton. Lin’s contract, while ridiculous, still offers immense upside. They struck oil in a Beverley Hillbillies manner with Jeremy Lin. However, would undoubtedly be problematic for them to bring back Lin now after the comments from ‘Melo and J.R. Smith. Even so, you would have thought they would have liked to see where Lin could take them because a Raymond Felton/J-Kidd combo isn’t taking them anywhere.

I for one am hoping they end up regretting it one day. I mean, come on, all Lin does is…Lin, am I right?

Beer Me

I will assume that you saw this video over the weekend of Steve Nash being handed a beer by a group of rather ecstatic fans while on the highway. No biggie, right. Of course, Steve Nash was smart enough to take a video of it and post it on twitter.

And this is why the world loves Steve Nash. He’s on that same kind of stardom level as Derek Jeter in the sense that he can do no wrong and I’m not just saying that because I happen to be Canadian. Nash has that star quality and likeability that enables him not only to be dearly loved by fans but also to get a pass on most anything he does that isn’t very role model-ish (i.e. cheating on his wife).

I see nothing wrong with him getting a pass on those types of things. He’s a character that everyone can like and you can never have enough of those. I mean, how many athletes would allow fans to deliver a beer from car-to-car on the highway?

Steve Nash would.

Olympics and Basketball

Blake Griffin went down with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Apparently, that means Mark Cuban was right. Owners don’t like their prized assets risking their futures for free. Playing simply for pride and being patriotic doesn’t fly with them. They want to restrict the Olympics to players who are 23 years and younger.

What else do they want to do? Put a leash around their player’s necks and tie them to a tree for the entire off-season?

If they’re not playing in the Olympics, they’re probably playing ball somewhere else (see: Kevin Durant at Rucker Park). Obviously, the intensity can’t match the level that they go through preparing for and playing in the Olympics, but they’ll be playing some form of basketball nonetheless. Injury is a risk anytime physically activity occurs.

The owners concerns are valid but they can’t stop player from doing everything athletically related in the off-season. Players are going to work out. They’re going to play. Kyrie Irving broke his hand at the Cavaliers summer-league practice facility over the weekend after he slapped a padded wall in frustration.

I guess I don’t like the idea of taking away these players ability to represent their country. Olympic gold is a big deal to these guys and I’m not just talking about the Americans.

I can’t imagine there’s a much better feeling than having an entire nation root for you. Doesn’t seem right to take that opportunity away from them.

Feel For Ya

Ever since I read “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, I can’t help but feel sorry for the fringe MLB pitcher.

Mop-up situations are often reserved for pitchers that are too good for the minors but not good enough to be used in any sort of high leverage situation in the majors. It takes the most die-hard fan to care for the mop-up situation.

However, Jim Bouton’s book made me realize how much each and every outing matters for a MLB pitcher struggling to earn his keeps in the Bigs. 2 runs allowed in a 14-3 game may not concern 99% of the viewers but to that one pitcher who allowed the 2 runs, it could be the difference between grinding out a 5 hour bus ride to Tacoma or flying on a chartered jet to New York City.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Chavez had one of those make or break outings on Saturday. He had been struggling lately and came into the ball game with an 11-4 lead. He left the game with the score 11-8. His line: 0.0 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs. His face had devastation written all over it.

I really do feel for the guy. What can you do though? Like so many others who get a cup of coffee in the Majors, Chavez was sent back to the minors. It’s the unfortunate reality of professional sports. Not everyone can have a happy ending.

Oh yeah, if you’re a sports fan and you haven’t read “Ball Four,” you better get on it. An absolute must read.

Easy Breesy

So Drew Brees got a lot of money. Don’t really know how the whole logistics of how his $40 million first year pay-day affects the Saints’ salary cap but I hear it’s not nearly as brutal as it sounds. An average of $20 million a year isn’t so bad either and it looks as though the two sides finally met somewhere in the middle in agreeing to this contract.

I still do have trouble comprehending why Drew Brees wouldn’t want to take a little less money for the greater good of his team but, hey, it’s easier to say that when I’m the person sitting in front of my laptop screen typing for free. So, who am I judge?

Of course, I will continue to judge anyways.

Oh Tiger, My Tiger

He missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic a couple of weekends ago but he’s still got to be the favourite going into the British Open. His game is on the up and he is playing more and more like the best golfer in the world is supposed to.

A fair bet won’t be Tiger or the field at least until he wins another major. However, I like Eldrick’s chances this coming week at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

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