The Elephant In The Room Is Obvious

If there was ever a game where most folks were not paying attention this is it. No Chris Bosh tonight or tomorrow as he did not travel with the team. I bet he is watching thought as most are busy partying over a Hockey win for Canada.

If he is like me he probably was not enjoying what he was seeing. In fact I wasn't ether. So if you were out partying the Canada's victory in hockey you really should feel fortunate you missed the Raptors. I watched 3 quarters and decided to watch the Closing Ceremonies from Vancouver. Canada won more gold medals than any country in the history of the Winter Olympics with 14. If the Raptors plan on winning they will need a much better effort like they had vs Cleveland. Bosh is not on this trip so he will not be there to save the day in Houston. The 119-99 win for the Oklahoma City Thunder was domination from the word go. It is a much different story from the embarrassment the Raptors suffered in this same place last season. That was on par with what the Celtics must be feeling in losing to the Nets recently. If you remember back to my season preview in the Dino Nation Blog, I picked the Thunder to make the playoffs in the West. I also picked Scott Brooks to be coach of the year. Both are looking solid and the Thunder showed why in this game. This is now one of the more talented and youngest teams in the NBA.

So rather than explain what was a total meltdown for the Raptors. Much like some of their epic losses early in the season. Instead I wanted to focus in on the fact this team without it's star is no where close to good enough. The entire Bosh 2010 thing has been done to death. However in the last few games you have got to see why. Chris Bosh is by far the best player on this team. Some have suggested this team can survive and remain competitive without him. If these games have not made it crystal clear that is myth and not reality, I honestly don't think you have been watching.

The 2 obvious people that would be expected to rise if Bosh is gone in 2010 would be Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani. Hedo has had a train wreck of a first season in Toronto. Everything that defined him in Orlando has failed to clear customs in his move north. The guy who made so many big shots for the Magic has misfired more than made shots down the stretch of games. From day 1 that the deal was signed I was not a fan of it. But my issues were about term of contract and amount of money. Never did I expect Hedo to be so awful in the first few years of his deal. However he has just never seemed to be able to get on the roll with Raptors. It seems every great moment as few as they have been have been followed by injuries and other misfortune. I think it clear that Hedo at best is a secondary piece on this club. At worst he is struggling to find his offense and it has become painfully obvious the having Dwight Howard made him look far better on defense than he actually is.

How about the Raptors only first overall pick in their history Andrea Bargnani. Bosh in a much deeper draft class that featured many of the games stars was selected 4th. However to compare Bosh to Bargnani is pretty laughable. Don't get me wrong Andrea has come a long way and shows more and more signs of greatness. However that has been done in the large shadow that is cast by the Raptors 5 time all star CB4. When Bosh is not around Andrea has been inconsistent at best over his career. Should Bosh go for good, I am not convinced Andrea is ready for that. Andrea in the past more under Sam Mitchell than Jay Triano showed a lack of confidence. I fear should Bosh leave and the spotlight shifts to Andrea he will melt in it. Andrea also has not shown any kind of ability to be a rebounder on any kind of consistent level. The double doubles that Bosh makes seem routine are an event for Andrea. I am not confident Andrea will ever be ready to be a team's Batman. I am totally certain that is not going to happen next season.

Beyond that it would be a stretch to suggest anyone else. Jarrett Jack at times has tried to carry this team with no Bosh. He, much like T.J Ford tried to do in past years, turns up his offense with no #4 in the line-up. Jack can be a leader in the locker room and already is that. However as the guy to be top dog in terms of scoring and leading this on the floor is unrealistic. Demar DeRozan is still finding his way and is not as far along as a Bosh was when the Vince Carter Era came crashing down. When Vince Carter said he wanted out all eyes turned to Bosh. Even he took time to grow into the role of franchise player. I really still believe in Demar and see a bright future ahead for him. However is he ready to be the face of a franchise like a Evans in Sacramento or a Jennings in Milwaukee. The answer is no and that is no knock on the young man. He can still be great and even some day might be able to be that A guy to carry a team. However 2010/11 season is definitely not the time for that.

I would imagine some of you are saying but wait a second, the plan has always been to move Bosh in a sign and trade. That is true and I have no doubt Bryan Colangelo if forced to trade Bosh will do a much better job than Rob Babcock in moving Vince Carter. However even Bryan is not going to be able to bring back a player that is going to be able to carry this team as Bosh does.

Which leaves the Raptors no where without Bosh. I wonder what Chris thought about all the hockey madness on the streets of Toronto. Did it give him a view of what could be for him in Toronto if he could lead the Raptors to a title, or was it the ultimate reminder that no matter what he does here in Canada it will finish with a silver medal to hockey. Only Chris knows the answer to that. However Raptors fans you should have an answer to one question. What is that question. What would the Raptors be like if Bosh leaves? The answer to that is a team with no on court leader. A team that would have to struggle and fight for ever win. A team that likely visits the lottery more than the playoffs.

If Bosh can be convinced to remain the core group that is here with a commitment by MLSE to enter into the uncharted waters of being a tax team. Something that Bryan Colangelo has claimed the board is willing to do upon his recommendation. Seeing is believing thought, not that I don't believe Bryan. I do have a hard time believing that MLSE will do it thought. But the best way to sum this up is as simple as this in terms of this team being a contender in the near future.

Boshless = Hopeless

You may see that as being a little over dramatic. However that is how I see it. My track record on these things is pretty good. I was the one that told you first that Jarrett Jack would be this team's starting point guard. I was also the guy that said the Magic would play the Lakers last year. That happened too. Oh and I also said about my predictions for The Thunder this season. The point to this pat on the back festival to myself is pretty simple.

The Raptors can not afford to not re-sign Bosh and anything less would be somewhere between a complete disaster and a team that is scrapping and clawing to make the playoffs. Those days have got old for most Raptors fans. I think just like this country has got a new attitude about itself with the games in Vancouver. Raptors fans to must have a new attitude and hopefully MLSE as well. Raptors need to keep building and not once again fail and have to rebuild. After 15 years Raptors fans not only deserve but expect more. The time to demand it has come.


Boshless Raptors Hang With NBA's Best

Raise you hand if you thought the Raptors had a chance to win last night without Chris Bosh? Well the Raptors almost did just that. The Cavs were without Shaq as well but it was still a pretty game effort from that Raptors. They push the Cavs to overtime before falling to them in overtime 126-118.

Lebron James poured in 36 including some key baskets down the stretch despite banging his knee a couple times in this game and playing through it. The Raptors had a number of great performances starting with Jarrett Jack and Andrea Bargnani with 24 each to lead the Raptors. Hedo Turkoglu had 18 points and a couple steals but it will be his play down the stretch of regulation that will leave some fans feeling flat about what he did. Turkoglu was suppose to be a closer for this team to make big shots and win games and he has failed in that role more then he has delivered as a Raptor.

The Cavs got great performances from Antwan Jamison who had 22 points and Mo William who was 6-11 from behind the 3 point line (including 2 in a row to start overtime) and had 22 points as well. Delonte West was the lone spark on the bench for Cleveland with 15 points. The Raptors got many performances off the bench. In total the Raptors bench outscored Cavs 42-25.

Reggie Evans lead the bench with 13 points. Sonny Weems had 10, Wright had 11 and Calderon had 8 points and lead the team with 8 assists. The Raptors really gave all they had without Bosh but it just was not enough. This may not result in a win in the standings for the Raptors, but it is something that can pay off down the line.

If Bosh were to get in foul trouble and Raptors have to play key stretches of games without him they have proven they can against the best team in the league. That could pay dividends come the stretch drive to the playoffs and in the playoffs themselves.

All of that being said the Raptors would really like to have their star back to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Bosh has being having the best season of his career. The Raptors have been very cautious wanting to make sure Bosh is 100% and can stay healthy down the stretch run. They will need him for sure.

So some fans may be disappointed by the loss last night, however in the big picture last night might have helped the Raptors in the long run. Jay Triano got to see how some guys play under pressure and respond to it. Raptors lost 2 straight at home for the first time in a longtime. They hit the road for a mini two game road trip with stops in OKC on Sunday and Houston on Monday in a back to back. Will Bosh be ready to roll? No idea but the Raptors play like they did vs Cavs they will have a chance to win if he isn't.


Do Not Expect A Shaqtastic Night At ACC

Chris Bosh remains doubtful for tonight and Shaq will be out for sure with an issue with his thumb. Bosh is nursing a bad left ankle suffered in the OT loss to Memphis. The Boshless Raptors are 2-1 but with wins over the Nets and Wizards that speaks to the record more than anything. A better class opposition in Portland had little trouble getting past the Raptors without CB4. Against the Cavs even minus Shaq the Raptors could be in serious trouble. James and his new buddy Jamison should be able to have more than enough for the Raptors to deal with. Cavs have a 20-10 road record with one of those losses taking place at the ACC to open their road schedule for the season.

That win seemed to make expectations for the Raptors go through the roof only to come crashing back to earth with a road loss to Memphis and a tough start to the season. The Raptors have always had some bad history in terms of Bosh injuries. Their win % without him is below .400 and he always seems to be injured at points in the season where Raptors can get on a run in their schedule. But with the Cavs then 2 games on the road vs two scrappy and talented teams from the West in OKC and Houston these would all be hard with Bosh forget about without him. Triano had said he was hopeful to have Bosh back for tonight. However it seems unlikely that is going to happen.

If that is the case the Raptors need a perfect performance and that might not even be enough. They can not have the sloppy play they had against Portland with turnovers and inconsistent offense. Lebron James has had many big games vs the Raptors in his career and has his career high against them. Ironically that came in a loss. Jamison also in his career has been successful for the most part against Toronto.

Two guys that need to answer the bell better than they did on Wednesday are Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan. Both were kind of invisible against Portland and did not have the step up nights that the Raptors needed from them. In addition both Jack and Calderon need to do a better job in running the offense and dial it back just a bit in terms of taking risks. Jose Calderon out of character for him has been very loose in his decision making. I actually like that but he needs to dial it down a touch. Jose and his new found ability to lob the ball up for Amir, Sonny and Demar to throw it down is great. But easy does it Jose. Calderon if he figures out how to balance things can be highly effective. In terms of Jack he needs to make the adjustment of not having Chris on the floor. Much like a T.J Ford would do, Jack seems to call on himself to pick up the slack when Bosh is out. However he has help and need to help Demar and Andrea get on track and get them going.

Despite the loss Hedo Turkoglu was likely the best Raptor in that loss against Portland. No doubt motivated by the fact most around the Blazers are saying thank God Hedo didn't sign with them. I mean how many times have we been able to say Hedo was even in the conversation of being the best player on on given night? Not that many is the correct answer.

I am not sure if Raptors can have any answers for beating the Cavs unless they have a number 4 in the line-up. Even with him this would be a tough game. Cavs are an NBA best 45-14 and have gotten even better with the addition of Jamison. They are the clear cut favourite to win the East and I picked them to win the NBA Finals before they had Jamison. the puppet Finals that Nike dreamed of last season likely will happen this season. Raptors just would like to be in the playoffs and have a realistic chance to win a round and go from there.

I am doing this one for The Score so check back later in the day for a link for the liveblog that will start likely around 6:50 T-Dot time. With Olympics I feel like I am living on Pacific Time these days.

So Go Canada and Go Raptors. I was so proud of Joannie Rochette last night. She is a Canadian Figure Skater if you didn't know. Although you would have to have been living under a rock not to know who she it this week. That was one of the most courageous performances by a Canadian in anything. If the Raptors can ball with that kind of courage tonight or any night that would be all that fans can ask for.


2010 ESPN Refuses To Let The Dream Die

I honestly am starting to get the impression that biggest player in 2010 is not the Knicks... it is ESPN. They continue to bang the drum so hard for the Knicks to get James, Wade and Bosh, or some combination of the three. Here is the latest from the ESPN propaganda campaign. Raptors fans have already heard Jalen Rose guarantee that Bosh and James would be Knicks. Something that he says is now is still possible and not the lock he once claimed. We also heard from Stephen A Smith, as he when he was still with ESPN claimed, Bosh told the Raptors he was out the door. A story both Bosh and the Raptors were quick to deny. Now we have a writer that is basically lobbying to James, Bosh and Wade to take a pay cut and have all 3 play together in New York.

I mean seriously this is journalism? I understand I am just a blogger, who is not to the stature of the giant beast that is ESPN, but come on this just is getting silly. ESPN biggest fear whether they choose to admit it or not is to have all 3 of these guys stay put. They have just went out of their way to be a player in this 2010 madness. The network that seems to think their rumours are worth money, in the sense you pay for the right to be an ESPN INSIDER. They also would love the chance to have a viable New York Knicks, to throw on ESPN to get a major bump in ratings.

In the article the writer suggests, that is wouldn't be a big deal for James, Bosh and Wade to leave money on the table. However this isn't about that. This is about the money that ESPN hopes to make, and that is why they care and continue to bang this drum till it breaks. But here is a newsflash for ESPN, why should James, Wade or Bosh care about you? A new CBA is on the horizon and it does not look like it will go well for the players side. Do ESPN think Bosh, Wade and James are this dumb? They all want to win but to do it and leave money on the table that may never be there again? I don't think so. In the article it suggests they should ignore their agents. No, what they should do is ignore ESPN. If they are fooling anyone with this nonsense that is sad. This is about the advancement of ESPN and not the New York Knicks.

The NBA sits back and let's all of this happen. Teams are not allowed to tamper, but if ESPN does it for them that is ok. Yup of course it is. Truthfully the league just like ESPN would like to the see the once proud franchise, that the Knicks once were return. Just as much as the NBA has loved the fact, the Boston and L.A have risen back to the top of the NBA landscape. That whole concept about 30 equal partners that make up the NBA is a bit slanted at times and this is one of those times.

Forgive fans in Cleveland, Toronto and Miami if they are tired of this constant B.S but seriously don't those cities count? I mean didn't they construct a CBA that cities are suppose to have an advantage to keep their star players if they so choose? That is right isn't it? That is why Raptors, Cavs and Heat can offer 30 million more dollars to these guys. For anyone to suggest that any of these guys should pass on that opportunity is nuts.

The flaw in the Knicks master plan of NBA domination is this. If James, Bosh and Wade are not stupid and indeed want their max deals and the extra 30 million dollars that they have earned what do the Knicks do then? The answer is nothing because they have next to no assets to pull off a sign and trade that would be required.

For the average fan it must be frustrating to have to hear this nonsense constantly. I mean when you consider, here in Toronto that Chris is having a career season, James is on the way to winning an MVP trophy for a 2nd time and D-Wade is far from a stiff in Miami. Yet fans have to hear this nonsense day in, and day out, and not get to fully enjoy what these guys are doing now. Which is pretty good, if you choose to just watch them and tune out ESPN and all the others who seem to have forgot there is a season to finish.

So do not be fooled, everyone has a stake in this game and it extends far beyond the Knicks, Raptors, Cavs and Heat. Networks like ESPN and the ones here in Canada and everywhere in between have an interest. As does the league itself. In the last 3 games Raptor fans have got a preview of life without Bosh, and it really isn't a fun picture is it. Raptors staying a viable franchise for broadcast is always an issue. The fact so many games end up on TSN 2 is frustrating for some fans who do not have access or choose not to have it. If Raptors lose Bosh how far down the food chain could they fall?

That is something any Raptor fan really does not want to find out. So ESPN can take a hike with there dream team scenarios and hype. We that love basketball in Canada, and can not afford to have our franchise fall down just so you folks can get ratings. If Chris Bosh goes, it will take a major step backwards in many ways. Lots of people have a lot to win or lose in 2010. Including basketball here in Canada with the Raptors.

If Bosh leaves there is nothing anyone can do about it. It is his choice and right to do so. However forgive me if it pisses me off that ESPN feels the need try to be a player in him making that choice. I am sure if Bosh was asked, he would say it has no impact. But when it is out there everyday or almost, is it realistic to think he totally ignores it? The fact he is on the front page of the ESPN website with James and Wade, he will not notice?

It has become a frustration and a problem when networks are lobbying indirectly for teams in a sports league. Donnie Walsh if he is successful in landing any of the Big 3 of 2010 Free Agency, he should donate a portion of his check to ESPN.

Blazers Burn Boshless Raps

Raptors could have used Chris Bosh last night. He was there dressed for success but not for the game. The Blazers were coming in off a back to back but showed no signs of wear and tear. Hedo Turkoglu had one of his better games as a Raptor in terms of offense (24 points, 8 for 9 from field). However offense and defense was lacking for Toronto. The Raptors for the first time since January 3rd the Raptors failed to score 100 points. So no pizza and in the end no win for Raptors as they lose 101-87 to Portland.

The Raptors did not have an answer to stop the Big 3 for the Blazers of Roy, Miller and Aldridge. The Blazers were going short handed as well without Marcus Camby who they recently acquired from the Clippers. Roy and Miller combined for 38 and the Raptors did a decent job with Aldridge holding him to just 9 points and was just 4-12 from the field. However Rudy Fernandez had 17 points going 3-5 from 3 point range. Bayless also chipped in with 11. In total off the bench Blazers got 35 points from 3 players. Blazers outscored Raptors 35-24 in terms of bench points.

Jay Triano prior to this one said he was hopeful that Chris Bosh would be ready to go Friday when the Raptors take on Lebron James and the Cavs. Safe to say after last night Jay is even more hopeful. He was less than impressed with both his team's defense and the lack of calls going his team's way. However 16 turnovers including 6 (3 Each) by his point guards was a big factor as well in the loss.

The only thing Jay can be happy about is not a lot of people were paying attention to the Raptors yesterday as the fact Canada's Men's Hockey team was playing at the same time. It made for a pretty small crowd at the ACC and safe to say a pretty small viewing audience. The sad reality is fans that were not tuned in did not miss much.

A few more people might be paying attention when Lebron James comes to town for the first time since opening night for the Raptors. James has a new running buddy who is no stranger to Toronto in Antwan Jamison who the Raptors drafted and of course swapped for Vince Carter. The two would eventually end up brother in-laws and Antwan was a regular at Vince's summer charity games in Toronto. Raptors will need to have Bosh back to have any realistic chance in this one.


Ready Or Bosh Here We Go

So the biggest question will be is if Chris Bosh is able to go tonight vs Portland tonight at the ACC. This will be a tougher challenge then the Wizards or Nets that is for certain. Blazers are 33-26 and unlike the Raptors side on the edge of the playoffs in the West in the 8th spot in the West. Portland is just 5-5 in their last 10 games and enter the ACC tonight with 14-13 road record on the season. Portland had acquired Marcus Camby at the deadline and he may not play tonight as he turned his ankle vs the Nets in a win for the Blazers last night. Andre Miller, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 75 points against the Nets. The Blazers have been bitten by the injury bug more than a few time in this season but have some how found a way to make it work. Makes you wonder why they would have taken a risk on Marcus Camby who from even the start of his career with the Raptors had his issues with injuries.

Be it a returning Bosh, Bargnani or someone else guarding LaMarcus Aldridge will be a challenge. Not to mention Roy and Miller. Earlier this season Miller went of for 50+ and Roy is also a guy that can go off as a scorer as well. Those 3 were pretty much 75% of the Blazers offense last night. Even with getting rid of what they did to get Camby this team does have a lot of depth not unlike that Raptors. Bayless, Fernandez, Webster and the ageless fab 5 member Juwan Howard give the Blazers lots of capable bodies coming of the bench.

Oh yeah there is some hockey game tonight so only the hardcore folks will be paying attention to Raps. For everyone else it will be some Hockey game between Russia and Canada. In fact if you catch games via the Radio tonight's game has been moved to the Dino Blogger's home town on CHML 900 AM. Which makes total sense because they have had me on as a basketball guest so many times. Oh wait no they haven't. But my hometown does have basketball fans. I will be addressing that issue come March with an event that will be starting in March. Details coming very soon in the Dino Nation Blog about basketball in my hometown.

It won't bother me a bit that Canada is playing Russia at the same time. Many won't believe it but I have not watched 1 second of Canada's Men's Hockey team. The theme of this Olympics has been "I Believe" and there is a song that if you have watched the Olympics you have heard at least 100 times by now. What I believe in is basketball and that is what I do everyday. If you enjoy hockey and care to watch it feel free. I have gotten to the point the over media coverage of hockey has made me tune it out. There is nothing where that is more clear than with the national Men's Hockey Team. I will watch the women play for Gold against the United States but in terms of the men's squad unlike the majority of this nation I am not obsessed with if Canada wins over Russia and goes on to win a medal or not. I am not cheering against them or anything just for me I would prefer to cheer for the rest of team Canada.

For example
Joannie Rochette was amazing. To skate with all that she must be feeling I really have no words. Anyone who has lost a parent understands. She is representing this country just days after her mother died in Vancouver as she had just arrived to watch her compete at the games. Joannie's performance last night was good enough to sit in 3rd place. However the courage that she showed will rival anyone in this basketball game tonight or this hockey game. In fact rival isn't even doing it justice. Surpass any performance we will see given her circumstances.

Pro athletes be it in Basketball or Hockey get paid very well to do what they do. Most of these athletes in Olympics do not make big dollars to compete in their sport. But they do not love it any less than pro athletes. I love my country and love basketball that I am proud to say it was invented by a Canadian. You can be a proud Canadian without watching hockey. I know that is a foreign concept for many in this country but it is true.

So be you watching Hockey or the Raptors the Dino Nation Blog will be here for you to make sure you know what went down at the ACC tonight. The indications are Bosh will be doubtful for this one. The idea to save him for when King James and his new friend Antwan Jamison coming to town Friday.

Couple Notes for you all. First some history for you all. I use to be a wrestling fan so I like to think of this as a Mega Powers like moment. The Dino Blogger for the first time EVER crosses the boarder and goes into the Raptors Repulic. Go check out my interview with PH-D Steve who was also my opponent in the Pros vs Joes Contest. Steve won are battle and I am pretty sure will win the contest. Good luck to him and I plan on having him come to visit our site in a future Starting 5. We had come up with this idea based on meeting each other through the contest.

Also I will be liveblogging the next 2 Raps games for The Score so if you must watch the Hockey game you can keep up on Raps with me on the liveblog while you watch. I will have linkage for you later today.


He-do and the Glass Playoff Shoes

I was hoping my debut on the Dino Nation Blog would be a little more epic than what follows. Unfortunately, my laptop died on me and I’ve been limited to Blackberry Internet browsing and word processing for the past few weeks. Tecno-failure coupled with the fact that I’m working two jobs outside of the media has really hindered my ability to write anything of substance. Words of caution to you teen-aged aspiring journalists out there: it’s a jungle after graduation. Be ready to get your Tarzan/Jane on. Anyways, I won’t usually blurb like this (I hope) before each post, nor am I normally apologetic, but I felt it was important to let my main man JB, and the Dino Nation know the deal. Here we go...

One of the few things I’ve been able to do from my Blackberry is read people’s Tweets. I normally hit up RealGM to measure the general opinion of Raptors fans but I’ve been unable to do so. One theme I’ve noticed play out on Twitter is that many, if not most, feel that Hedo Turkoglu has been the biggest disappointment of this exciting Raptors season.

Now, I understand that most of the anti-Hedo sentiment is directly related to his $50 million plus contract, but I think it also has much to do with unrealistic expectations heading into the season. I’m not talking about the expectations Bryan Colangelo had when he gave Hedo that contract. I don’t, for a second, believe that he expected Hedo to perform as he did in the Magic’s championship run year-in and year-out. Just to jog your memory, if you scratch the opening round against Philly from the record, Hedo posted per-game numbers of 17 points, 5.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 threes. In that 18-game stretch following the first round, he had six games where he scored 20 or more points, back-to-back 12 and 14 assist games, eight games with two or more threes, and seven games with 6 or more rebounds.

In the 07/08 and 08/09 seasons, he put up similar numbers but in neither was he considered to be the Magic’s unquestioned leader in the clutch. Yes, they liked to have him take the final shot, but against the Lakers, analysts and fans throughout the league were taking notice of Hedo’s fourth-quarter dominance.

Now you’re asking, what’s wrong with you, Anas? You’re just repeating everything that we knew when we signed Hedo. Yes, that’s right. All I’ve done is thrown numbers out at you, made you focus on the statistical feasts you were fed in heaps in the off-season. Nine out of ten articles written in the days leading up to, and the days that followed the Turk signing made mention of these very same numbers and playoff heroics. It’s easy to forget that Hedo has posted career numbers of 12.3 points, 2.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 threes. Eerily similar to the numbers he has posted here in Toronto post-fat contract (12.3 points, 4.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 threes). I’m a Fantasy sports junkie myself, but even I can say it’s not all about stats.

I wrote a piece before the Hedo signing saying that the Raptors should focus on keeping Marion. In hindsight, I’m happy that this didn’t happen. Although Hedo was given a bloated contract, his passing ability from the three-spot has helped Chris Bosh increase a scoring average that, for the four years preceding Turk’s arrival, had appeared to have maxed out at 22. Even if Hedo isn’t hitting those game-winning shots, other teams are still expecting him to do so. Teams still zone in on him despite his underwhelming season. He commands a double-team that Marion never would have. Yes, we lost Marion’s rebounding but the Raptors have more than made up for that with Amir Johnson.

Raptors fans, this whole blog could have been summed up in this final graph: Calm down! You’re witnessing one of the most exciting Raptors seasons in the team’s history. Be thankful that you have a guy who is letting you down (right now) as opposed to a team filled with guys who have never played well-enough to warrant any lofty expectations. The year is young. Hedo’s true test will come when the games matter the most: the playoffs. He’s put in work in the post-season like no other current Raptor. He’s a guy that wakes up when everyone starts to sleep on his team. Last year, the Cavs were supposed to take the East. They didn’t. This year the Raptors are firmly wedged underneath ESPN’s snooze button even though they are within biting distance of home-court advantage. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that won’t play a factor in making Hedo rise to the occasion. When those very same analysts who celebrated Hedo for his spectacular post-season play are sleeping on his squad when picking their playoff Cinderellas, don’t be surprised if Hedo is the bell of the BALL.

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"Jiggly Bits" - Danielle de Graauw

Olympics...what Olympics? As if that statement would get you very far these days. It's hard to talk NBA to the average person with all this excitement going on much less read about it in the paper - other than the NBA stats on the back page. Our athletes deserve all the accolades that four years and sometimes a lifetime of training will bring. Go Canada Go! Now that I have that out of my system, let's get down to business.

NBA Rookie of the Year - And the winner is...Tyreke Evans.

So I hope you all took my advice to think outside the box after last week's NBA trade deadline. Lots more to think about right? So here's what went down in a nutshell: Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez are now Knicks; the Rockets went shopping and came back with Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Hilton Armstrong and a first round pick; the Kings crowned Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and Larry Huges. Oh and Tyeke Evans got Rookie of the Year. Woohoo! I know, I know - you'd think my first pick would be Derrick Rose because I have been extolling his virtues as of late but in all seriousness, Tyreke has the whole package and his move with Dejuan Blair and the Rookie All Star MVP trophy really solidified it for me - a class act all the way. I think it would be in the NBA's best interest to attach Tyreke's image to the award, too - sending a message that this is the type of young player they want to attract. Plus with the trades Sacramento has made, the ball will be in his hands more often, hence more opportunities to shine. We can't forget about BBJ (Bucks' Brandon Jennings) but the only way he'd knock Tyreke off the rookie podium is if he starts racking up the points in Milwaukee, thus moving the Bucks up in the East. So really, the NBA Rookie of the Year award is for Tyreke to loose - he really deserves it in my opinion.

Don't mess with a "Bull" in transition

So all this talk about trades, transitions and titles really boil down to this: you call have all the skill and pizazz in the world but if you don't have a good supporting cast around you, you won't be invited to the final show. Now insert the Chicago Bulls just for fun to illustrate. All I have been reading about the Bulls lately is they are in a transition year. Ok, that's fair. So then does this mean that Coach Vinny Del Negro is in transition too? If I were Bulls' management, I would be saying this with my inside voice since they have tickets and merchandise to unload. But think about it - the Bulls make some trades and free up some spending money ($20 million) and Chicago fans have every right to get excited. This doesn't mean that a playoff spot will mean anything more than a time for Rose and the rest to develop and gain experience. I think their goal now should be to work hard and build themselves up to seem more attractive to a big ticket player or at least someone than can help them get over the transition hump.

Speaking of big ticket, do you want to know what I read about Chris Bosh and why he should leave the Raptors? Take into account this journalist is writing for an american publication. So Sam Smith of the Bulls.com says a good reason for Chris Bosh to leave the Raptors is he's in Canada without ESPN. Seriously? This is the best you've got? Do we think Bosh would leave to help someone else win? He's a player who needs a team and a city behind him and that's what he has here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mr. Smith. We stand behind our players and anytime you want to come north of the border to take in a game, you will see why.

This is why the trade deadline makes the offseason so interesting. Look at the free agency history in the NBA. Lebron James is really only approaching his prime years and can be compared to Michael Jordan. MJ was a free agent in 1996 but he wasn't expected to leave Chicago - like Lebron. In 2004, Kobe Bryant was also a free agent but quickly proved L.A. was where he needed to be. I've heard people talk about Lebron going to Chicago but he wouldn't be able to wear the number 23 so please, let's stop perpetuating that rumour.

I'm a new Denver Nuggets Fan

I think the best story coming out of all this wheeling and dealing, lies in Denver. God Bless George Karl for trying to battle the play-offs and cancer at the same time. Five years ago, he had prostate surgery and has been good ever since. Then doctors found a malignant lump in his throat six weeks ago and Karl keeps it to himself - only management knew. Imagine being in this position. You are in contract negotiations with your bosses and suddenly it doesn't matter how many millions you are making. So management supports a one-year contract extension for Karl and the rest of the Denver Nuggets family -the players- are told. I like how the NBA, friends and foes alike, have rallied around him. And how Denver Nuggets management got behind him. If I were him, I think the most difficult thing dealing with all this would be all the questions and pushes for updates on his condition in press conferences and daily dealings with the media. I don't know if I could deal with that and may have kept my mouth shut entirely. Or maybe not. I think the love and support of family and teammates will move mountains for Karl in the next few weeks. It's times like these that make you appreciate what's around you - my heart goes out to George and the rest of the Karl family - close and extended.


Round Ball Review- Career Advancement

It is Monday which means the guys from the Round Ball Review make their weekly visit to the Dino Nation Blog. In this episode Joey G claims to have the answer to getting Chris Bosh healthy, he says hockey is dying in Canada and that he belongs on Raptors-T.V. He doesn't think to much of himself does he? Enjoy the antics of J.B and Joey G for another week.

So that is it for another week of the Round Ball Review. The guys will be back next week assuming Joey G is not working for Raps-T.V...like I said the guys will be back next week.


Jack Goes Wild On Wiz

The Toronto Raptors were going for the 2nd night in a row without Chris Bosh and they once again found a way to escape with a W. Jarrett Jack came to life in a major way to spark a rally for the Raptors in the 4th quarter as the erased a 10 point decit and beat the Wizards 109-104. It was Jack's 23 points and 8 dimes that lead the way for Toronto. Calderon was also good in relief and playing with Jack at times with 10 points 4 dimes and 4 rebounds with a key one down the stretch that secured the win. Andrea Bargnani also had a solid night at the office with 18 points on the night. Hedo Turkoglu did a solid job as well with some big moments down the stretch. He had left the game briefly with an injury but returned. He and all the Raptors including Bosh will have lots of time to recover as they do not play again till Wednesday vs Portland.

The Raptors did a terrible job on the glass in this game and looking at it with an impartial eye the Wizards overall probably played well enough to deserve the win. Blatche was a man on a mission for them with 24 points and 6 rebounds and seemed to be the guy that every time the Wiz were on a run he was right in the middle of it.

Raptors did not play defense most of the night. However at the end of this one Bargnani turned into a blocking machine and single handed made key stops for Toronto down the stretch to secure the win. He had 4 blocks overall and most of them came when it matter the most at the end of the game.

Raptors had the good fortune of the meeting the Nets and Wizards without CB4. However the Wizards did come in off a big win over the Nuggets and were playing good basketball. Raptors will move on and face the Blazers who have a string of injuries and now have former Raptor and 2nd overall pick way back in the day in Marcus Camby.

As rough as the OT loss was to the Grizzlies, the Raptors seem to have bounced back strong without their star player. That will help build confidence in other players on this roster hopefully and in the end that can be important as the Raptors push down this stretch to the playoffs. 31-24 is their record in February that is a far cry from last season.


Rasho To The Rescue

Some folks were worried with no Chris Bosh would the Raptors be in trouble even though they were facing the awful New Jersey Nets. But never fear Raptor fans cause Rasho is here. He would replace Bosh in the starting line up and Andrea Bargnani would shift over to Bosh's normal spot at the 4 spot. Rasho had an amazing night of 16 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists. There was a time after the first quarter would where Rasho was on pace to have a triple double. Jarrett Jack also had a major bounce back to lead the Raptors with 18 points and he and Rasho were part of 7 players that reached double figures in a 106-89 win over the Nets.

It wouldn't be the Raptors if they did not give fans a scare. Devin Harris lead a charge that would get the Nets back to with in 6 points. He had 19 in the game and it was Brook Lopez with 22 points and was the games high scorer. The Raptors are back at it tonight with a game vs the Wizards who come in riding high off a win over Denver. Al Thornton one of the players that came in the Wizards fire sale at the deadline proved to be effective off the bench with 21 points.

Chris Bosh looks to be doubtful for basketball night in Canada as he missed the trip to New Jersey with a bad left ankle. However CB4 would still make an impact. Not on the floor but on Twitter. He tweeted #LetsGoRaptors and asked his twitter army of Raptor fans to do the same. Well they did and in huge numbers so much so that #LetsGoRaptors became a trending topic in Canada. That would not happen playing for the Knicks or the Heat. In a small way this king of demonstrates the power the Bosh has in terms of being the Franchise guy on the Raptors. He would just be the top guy in a city in the U.S. But here in Canada he not only gets Toronto but the pockets of basketball fans across this country. That is something unique that only the Raptors offer. That along with the extra 30 million that the Raptors can pay him.

So Bosh may just be in a suit helpless watching like all of us for tonight's game vs the Wizards. The Raptors will need more of what they got from New Jersey game. The Wizards are a step up the ladder from the 5 win Nets. They are not a major step up but a step none the less. Raptors without Bosh have a much smaller margin of error and need to get production from guys like Bargnani and Turkoglu who combined for 27 in the Nets game. Not great but with the complete team effort it was good enough.

So CB4 or not it is Basketball Night In Canada....Are You Ready? More importantly are the Raptors ready? I am liveblogging it for The Score so we can find out together. Link to come later today.


Boshless Raptors Take On Nets

So some folks thing the Raptors can be o.k should Chris Bosh leave in 2010. Well let this be your preview of the future without him... kind of. Paul Jones (@Paul__Jones on Twitter) tweeted this stat for us all, with No Bosh the Raptors are 17-36 with a .321 winning percentage. Jonesy gives credit to John Rusin who fans may know better as " Jumping Johnny Rusin " back in the Swirsky era of Raptors basketball. Normally you would not sweat the 5-49 Nets even if it is a road game. But when you consider that stat it does make you a bit concerned.

What the Raptors will need to address most of all is how you replace the Bosh and his 24.5 points on offense. Up to this point Bosh had played and started every game this season. He had said that it was the most energy and he had never felt better this deep into an NBA season. Jay Triano said he is hopeful that Bosh will be ready to go vs Washington on Saturday. It will be a rare Saturday night contest on the CBC with Hockey taking a break for the Olympics. Obviously it is not just Triano hoping for Bosh to be ready to roll for that game. Bosh was a huge factor in keeping the Raptors in a game vs Memphis where the Raptors came out flat as a pancake.

Hedo Turkoglu had 1 point and 1 ball in that game vs Memphis. The Raptors will need a heck of a lot more than that if they hope to avoid what would be an embarrassing loss to the Nets. Jarret Jack also had a night to forget and he needs to bounce back strong as well. Some others the Raps need to step up to make up for no Bosh would include Demar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani. But beyond those starters the combination of Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson will have the bulk of the responsibility for making up for the 11.4 rebounds that Chris Bosh also provides.

A Word On Deadline

The Raptors as I was telling you did not make a move. There was a rumour of a deal with the Lakers that would have saw Powell and Vujacic coming to the Raptors for Banks and O'Bryant. However no miracle for Bryan Colangelo on that one. It would have been one too when you consider Banks and O'Bryant when this team is healthy are always a lock to be on the in-active list. The Celtics did make a move and while some praise the addition of Nate Robinson to the Celtics I think it was an epic failure for Danny Angie. The Celtics needed a major shake up and adding the Mascot of the Slam Dunk Contest was not what most had in mind. Raptor fans should know the value of a guy like Eddie House for that team and unless Ray Allen "Finds his Game" the Celtics will miss House and his 3 point shooting ability. House in that Knick system should have a lot of fun and Raps should take note of him when they play the Knicks 2 more times in March and April. The Cavs adding Jamison make them the massive favourite in the East as far as I am concerned. The Magic Hawks and Heat like the Raptors all stood pat. The only other team in the current playoff mix that made moves was the Chicago Bulls. Actually my surprise playoff pick the Bobcats also made a move so my bad Bobcats.

@jalenrose Meet @dinonationblog

The Knicks cleared a ton of cap space and look to be making a push to get to stars in the 2010 lotto. They will end up with just 4 players under contract. You will remember Jalen Rose once guaranteed that James and Bosh going to New York would happen in 2010. I mention this cause I had a little twitter exchange with the former Raptor who for the record I am a big fan of. I love the Michigan Wolverines and was a big fan of Jalen from his days at Michigan. Here is what the exchange was.

@jalenrose- "
I majored in broadcasting because I was annoyed by so many "shock media reporters"..who throw stones in glass houses! Judge but cant play?!"

@dinonationblog- "So that is why you Guaranteed Bosh and James would be Knicks cause you don't like shock reporting? Just saying Jalen #GoBlue"

@jalenrose- "
that day...that was the case...I KNOW BOTH situations & camps VERY well..minds change daily...it still may happen...right?"

@dinonationblog- "
May yes but Guarantee no. You played here you know how T-Dot is and the fragile nature of Raps fans about guys leaving."

So that was the exchange and I thought it was interesting. I am proud of all Jalen has accomplished in broadcasting. To his credit even in his playing days he was working towards a career in sports broadcasting. He has made a very easy transition to it. I have no doubt he knows the situation better than me. He knows far more people and has far more contacts than me. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that. He should have known as a former Raptor what that comment would mean in terms of Toronto. He himself said things change daily so if that is the case why make the guarantee? I like Jalen, and someday would love to interview him and talk about not just this but many things. He is a guy that knows the game well and has done a great job in his post NBA career in broadcasting. Will It happen that I ever interview him? No idea but I have learned in doing this blog this long never to say never about anything. Jalen Rose has an open invitation to be in the DNB's Starting 5 anytime. So someone let him know OK? But seriously check out Jalen's website and hear his takes on the NBA. Majority of them I enjoy just that one about the Knicks was not among them. Hope I haven't ticked off one of the Fab 5 at me.

So enough about Tweeting and Twitter. Raptors if they were to lose Bosh in the short term to injury as they have, it could not have happened at better time with Nets and Wizards as the next 2 games and a very like February schedule overall. I am live blogging the next 2 games for The Score so be you Jalen Rose or just your average Raptors fan I will have a link for you later in the day to come experience all the action with me of the Raptors game tonight with the Nets.

Update 5:10pm

As promised you link to Raptors vs Nets on @The Score.com and Score Mobile. I will kick things off around 7:50pm


Memphis Meltdown

The Raptors started awful and finished poorly and the result was an overtime loss to the Grizzlies. This despite a tremendous effort from Chris Bosh. It was much like when these teams met in October where the Raptors struggled the entire night to put away the Grizzlies. Bosh has 32 and 10 and appeared to have injured himself on a blocked shot but remained in the game through overtime. The Raptors in the end lose 109-102 in overtime.

The Raptors got off to just a terrible start and would trail by as many as 16 points early on. After the first quarter was through they had rallied to trail 28-16. The Raptors 8 game home win streak was in serious danger of being snapped from the start. The Raptors would fight back to trail by just 2 points at the half. Again they got off to a bad start to the 2nd half. However they rallied once more and appeared to have this game in control. Bosh was just off the charts down the stretch of this game and it appeared that Bosh was going to lead the Raptors to a victory that after the first 4 minutes of this game seemed improbable.

However with just over 30 seconds to go and the Raptors up 5 it would all go south. O.J Mayo would nail a 3-ball. Andrea Bargnani missed a shot and the Grizzlies scored in transition and the game was tied. Raptors would have just over a second left on the clock to pull it out of the fire for the win. Chris Bosh would get a decent look in corner for 2 and the win but it did not fall. The game was off to overtime. Raptors would score the first basket but the Grizzlies would get things rolling from there outscoring the Raptors 12-5 in OT. A game that the Raptors let slip away.

Jarrett Jack and Hedo Turkoglu lead the list of guys struggling in this game. Jack was just 1 for 3 from field with 3 points and 2 assists. While Hedo was 0 for 5 and had 1 point to match the 1 ball they played the game with and just 2 assists. He would force a 3 point shot with Bosh on fire that would cost the Raptors a possession down the stretch. Why Triano played Turkoglu in the stretch of this game is something most were asking. Yes Hedo was Mr. Clutch in Orlando but here in Toronto aside from a couple free throws to secure a win over the Lakers, beyond that not so much.

It was a solid effort from the bench lead by Jose Calderon with 12 points and 9 assists. The bench in total had 43 points on the night. Reggie Evans only saw 4 minutes of action but was productive averaging a point and a rebound per minute. But Amir Johnson was rolling he was 5 of 5 and had 10 points and 3 big blocked shots.

Raptors will chill out and wait to see if Bryan Colangelo keeps this team in tack after 3pm. The Raps hit the road to take on the Nets and that should be a good game to bounce back against. If Chris Bosh is healthy and good to go. After last night you have to cross your fingers and hope that is the case. He did play the entire game but appeared to be in pain at times down the stretch. Antonie Wright also took elbow and got a pretty nasty cut that would have put an end to any boxing match or MMA fight based on that cut. He got stitched up and did return in the game.

As I have been saying all week. Do not expect the Raptors to do much but if they do I will have it covered in the blog. Speaking of deadlines it is also the deadline in the Pros vs Joes contest. So if you haven not voted by now this is your last chance to do so. Vote with this link by 6pm today. Chris Bosh did his best to support my cause last night in how he played. The guy brings it and regardless of if I win or not, I am here to tell you that #4 with hang in the ACC one day retired for him.

Update 11:30am- I have decided to come on here and hold a chat when the deadline hits. Over on the right you will see DNB Chat. I will be there to talk with you about what the Raptors do or do not do come 3pm. So be hear at 3pm and let's talk BALL!!!


Back To Work For Raptors

So in case you forgot the Raptors enter this unofficial 2nd half of the season with a 29-23 record and 5th in the East they are 4.5 games out of 3rd and the lead in the Atlantic Division. They kick off the second half busting out those Huskies jerseys that they are 3-0 in to take on what use to be Canada's other team in the Grizzlies. It is the first of 11 games the Raptors have left vs the Western Conference left on their schedule. Raptors actually have a winning record vs the West with a record of 9-7 this season. However one of those loses was to these Grizzlies way back in the Raptors first road game in the season.

Zach Randolph was a big reason why the Grizzlies won that game 115-107. Randolph had 30 points and 7 rebounds in that win. The Raptors are a much different team from that one in many ways. One of those difference is Reggie Evans is back and he is a guy that can bring some wood to Zach if called upon to do so. Chris Bosh in that game had 37 points and 12 rebounds in that loss in Memphis. The difference has been that Bosh has had more support from his team than in those early days of this Raptors squad. So much so that Bosh has said he would be happy if the Raptors did not make a move on Thursday.

Guys like Hedo Turkoglu who should be back tonight after missing the last game prior to the break for personal reasons and Demar DeRozan returns off an all star weekend experience will need to pick it up down the stretch. DeRozan I was reading in Holly Mackenzie's notes from practice got to talk with the legend Bill Russell. There is no player alive today that I personally respect more than Bill Russell. He is like the grandfather to the NBA and he has always been willing to share his knowledge with anyone that wants to listen. Demar has said he is a student of the game and that is a heck of a teacher. Chris Bosh also had got to talk with Russell in the playoffs a few years back as Russell was at the ACC for a playoff game.

When you say Bill Russell, it just makes the green and white of the Celtics. While the Raptors I expect will look much the same come Thursday as they do right now. The Celtics are a much different story. I think if Boston walks away from trade deadline without having made a major move or two there will be massive disappointment in Celtics Nation. They are not thinking about the Raptors chasing them down in the Atlantic. They are asking what they need to do in order to beat a Cleveland, that is also talking about bulking up for a push for the NBA finals.

When the smoke all clears the Raptors will have a better idea of the challenge that lies in front of them. Raptors will need to keep it rocking on the home floor where they are an impressive 20-6 so far this season. Raptors have 15 more home dates left including tonight's game vs the Grizzlies. The Raptors would like to hop for a win total in the 30's which would mean going just 10-5 in those games which does not seem impossible given the way they have played thus far.

As I was writing got word that I will be liveblogging this one for The Score.com and Score Mobile. So if you can not tear yourself away from the Olympics make sure you keep up with your Raptors with me on the Live Blog. I will post the link here later in the day and post them on my twitter account @Dinonationblog . Just want to close today by say congrats to Danielle, who I have nicknamed "Our Double D" , she has been doing a great job with her weekly feature on Tuesdays. If you missed it yesterday go check it out.

Just 30 games to go the push to the playoffs begins now. Are you Ready?



"Jiggly Bits" - Danielle de Graauw

It was hard not to get excited this weekend. The Olympics were on and the NBA found its way to permeate this with Steve Nash helping to light the flame. Then he wins the skills competition and participates in Sunday's All-Star game. Fine, Dwayne Wade wins MVP of that contest but Steve Nash is my vote for weekend, season and all around awesome player to watch MVP. This wasn't even my most favourite part of the weekend. So I am watching the Rookie game Friday expecting a low key mix of some up-and-comers and was completely blown away. We knew Tyreke Evans was the lay-up king and would quickly prove to be the Rookie All-Star MVP; however, it was his move during the trophy presentation that truly inspired me. He complimented fellow Rookie All-star DeJuan Blair on his skills and invited him to hold the MVP award together. No egos here, folks. Let's hope this lasts.

The trade deadline - things to watch

We could talk about the rumours and speculate who will go where but really, it all boils down to this. With 30 games left in the season, the championship contenders are trading to get that final piece to an NBA Championship victory and everyone else is looking to make the rest of the season not so painfull. I really want you to think outside the box in the next week when the trade deadline comes and goes. This is how you can properly evaluate whether a trade was good or bad.

One - Don't just look at players, look at systems. This is really key. We can all get caught up in the emotion of whether Amar'e Stoudemire would be a good fit for Lebron James and the Cavs but this may not translate well on the court. There is a reason why coaches are fired over dismantling a team entirely. We can't just look at players and how they play together, we have to consider the systems coaches present and how it affects their game. I remember playing under one coach who pushed his defensive systems over offense and my game was remarkably different under the next coach who's philosophy was to keeps things even and simple. Look at the player and their style of play and see if it fits in the team's coaching style. A better predictor of a successful trade in my opinion.

Two - Remember the game is played OFF the court and on the court. You may think your favourite player is safe and may not be traded but don't get too comfortable. It's a fun game to watch and play but at the end of the day, the NBA is a mulit-million dollar business and the players are assets to be protected. This is this cold-hearted truth. I've been a fan of the NBA since I came out of the womb (and yes, the doctor wrapped me in purple and gold) so please don't get the impression this means I'm cold hearted. Consider this: Antoine Wright knows how a trade can come out of no where and disrupt a player's life. He also understands, I think more than any other Raptor, how cruel this business can be. He's making shots and playing the strong game that brought him to Toronto from the Mavs but I am sure he is fully aware that his expiring contract is pretty attractive to Raptors Execs who want to trim the budget. So look at contracts and how much it costs to keep a player on a team and how much value a player has.

Three - Be mindful of how a mid-season trade will affect the existing chemistry of a team. This is why I am almost positive Chris Bosh is safe. I know what I just said about games being played off the court but truthfully, the Raptors have a momemtum at home that can take them into the play-offs and the fans are really rallying around the team. A Bosh trade now can really break that momemtum. This is the hardest adjustment period for a team and the traded player. Players don't like it when you take away starters or players that mean alot to the team. And on the other hand, adjusting to new offensive and defensive systems make it a challenge for the player coming onto a new team. So consider all this in the next few days.

David and the "Stern" Press Conference

So David Stern calls a press conference during the NBA All-Star weekend and I'm thinking *yawn* big deal. Oh, so Team U.S.A. will compete at the Word Championships in Turkey? Ok. And the NBA is opening an office in Africa and is also looking at India and the Middle East? Cool - peaks my interest. But this is where it gets interesting. He announces the NBA is projected to loose $400 million dollars this year and ..wait for it...they are looking for a "sustainable business model" where every NBA team can compete. Oh yeah and he'd like the deal "if possibile please" before July 1st of this year. Before the free agency trade deadline? I am with Charles Barkley on this one - totally inappropriate to discuss during "the greatest pick-up game on earth" as Kobe Bryant describes All-Star weekend. So really, David Stern has admitted to the world the NBA hasn't learned anything from 1983. This was when the league and the Players Association made an agreement that saw the first revenue sharing plan in league history. Although Stern was not the NBA Comissioner at the time, he acted behind the scenes as a major player.

This is what really bothers me. I don't understand how anyone can get up there and essentially say the organization I represent is loosing $400 million dolllars and we want a deal asap. David Stern's argument is he just wanted to start discussions early. Seriously? The current deal expires in a year and a half, after the 2010 -2011 season. He says the NBA's books are open but I am really questioning where the loss is coming from. Is it from the NBA's books or the other businesses they own? If I were a player in the NBA, I'd be asking the same question.

"When the Game was Ours" - Larry Bird, Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullan

Loved this book. It really made me appreciate how the landscape of the game has changed over the years. It described how some players like Boston Celtic M.L.Carr put himself and his family at risk just to play NBA basketball. He arrived in Boston as a free agent in 1979, a few years after Boston public schools were integrated by forced busing. And of course, it went into detail of the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Gotta love how a commercial can bring two players together who couldn't stand each other up to that point. I was ten (you do the math) when that "Choose Your Weapon" campaign was born back in the late 80s and I am sure I would have been all over a pair of purple and gold Converse sneakers. So if you are an employee of Converse and are reading this, I wouldn't mind a pair if you have any left over. I'm a size 9.5.

Starting 5 With Jack Armstrong

It is always a pleasure to welcome Jack Armstrong to the Starting 5. He is always good for some solid insight into the Toronto Raptors and some fun along the way. We talk about the now famous "Ball" interview and get Jack's thoughts on the whole thing. We move on from there and talk about the upcoming trade deadline in terms of the Raptors. Jack gives his thoughts on Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson and how you play them both together. Along with the point guard situation going forward if Jose Calderon remains a Raptor after Thursday. In addition we talk about the future of Chris Bosh with the Raptors. Also his thoughts on the development of Demar DeRozan and the shooting guard position as a whole. This and a whole lot more in the Starting 5 with our guest Jack Armstrong.

It is always a great joy for me to talk with Jack. I feel he is one of the best people at what he does. He is straight forward and direct and gives you his honest feelings on the issues that surround the Toronto Raptors. It is always a great thrill for me to have Jack as a guest and it always produces some quality info and usually some fun as well. Jack does a great job with the Raptors and on his Radio show "The Game Plan" on the Fan 590 2-4pm on Monday to Friday. You can become a fan of the show on Facebook. Not that Jack is on the Facebook or Twitter but we love him all the same. At least I do and I know many Raptor fans share that love.

Just A Reminder

If you have still yet to vote in the Pros vs Joes Contest on Whotheman.com. Voting closes on Thursday at around 6pm. So get out there and support the Dino Nation Blog if you would like to support me and hopefully agree with me in the question we are battling about.


Round Ball Review- All-Star Weekend Recap

Well Joey is back together with J.B again to recap All-Star Weekend in Dallas. It is the usual crazy stuff you have come to expect from Joey G and J.B. Take it away J.B

So I guess we will hear more from Joey on Thursday? Will see what happens. But you can guarantee they will back next Monday.

CB Shines Among The NBA's Best

What has been a career season for Chris Bosh would continue on through the All-Star Game. Bosh would make 2 free throws to clinch the win for the East as it would turn out. He had 23 points and 10 rebounds with a couple of steals and played just over 29 minutes. He was in the mix for game MVP which would go to D-Wade. It all went down in front of the largest crowd ever to to witness a basketball game with over 108,000 folks on hand. To put that in some perspective that is about 38,000 more than were in attendance for the opening ceremonies in Vancouver for the Olympics. Speaking of those games we won a GOLD...YIPPEE!!! Finally a gold medal on home soil. I happened to be hanging out on a Live Blog with Eric Smith. The people on that liveblog went nuts with pride and it was fun to share that experience. I think it was given the audience something like it would be if Raptors won an NBA Championship.

Think that is what the Olympics are all about creating dreams and bringing people together to share in a national experience from coast to coast. Hopefully as a fan of basketball we as fans can have that kind of experience through the Raptors someday.

All-Star weekend as a whole was not exactly the great show that I had hoped for but the game itself had it end on a high note. It was also great to see on Friday Steve Nash be party of lighting the flame and then less than 24 hours later winning his event at All Star Weekend on All-Star Saturday night. Nash is everything you would want a Canadian to be. He is funny and proud of his country. He competes and gives his 100% and ultimately has had success. Steve Nash is greatest basketball player in the history of this country. You would never know it by looking at him but that is part of what makes it great. Steve Nash has inspired a lot of kids to pick up a basketball and that is great.

It is back to business for the Raptors as they will return to practice and kick off the post All Star schedule on Wednesday vs the Grizzlies. The trade deadline is the following day and it is looking more likely the Raptors are likely to do little if anything before the deadline.

Speaking of deadline you have till that same Thursday to vote for me and the Dino Nation Blog in the Pros vs Joes contest. Also a couple things for those of you that are on facebook. I am trying to get the DNB's Fan Page back on track so come be a part of the DNB experience on Facebook. One other thing on Facebook in that liveblog I was hanging out in the topic of the Raptors TV show once done by Eric Smith and Paul Jones came up. Double Dribble was the show and it was a PTI like basketball program with Paul and Eric as the hosts. I decided that I would start a facebook group to support the idea of bringing the show back and others like it on Raps-TV. I want to see more shows on the Network and who knows maybe someday even my own. But just more basketball content from Canadians by Canadians for Canadians. So if you feel the same join the facebook group and be a part of it.

So for the next couple weeks GO CANADA GO and GO RAPS GO and even a little GO DNB GO with our Pros vs Joes contest. Thanks to anyone that takes the time to vote and support me.


Nate Ain't Great

I have never been a Nate Robinson fan and last night was just the latest chapter as to why. Demar DeRozan would win the preliminary round of last night's slam dunk contest. He would have the only good dunk of the night with his second dunk of the opening round. Sonny Weems would pass it off the side of the back board, Demar caught it and spun around to the front of the net and slammed it down. It was the only 50 of the night and the only dunk even close to worthy of one by anyone.

Nate Robinson is a joke that isn't really funny. He in his first contest was soundly beaten by Andre Iguodala. The voters may not have agreed but any sound minded individual not influenced by Nate's lack of size would agree. Then you had last year's debacle in which Dwight Howard could have just handed him the trophy by allowing Nate to jump over him he pretty much gave him the ammo to defeat him. In that Dunk Contest Howard dunked on a 12 foot high net that was the real most impressive dunk. Then last night no one performed all that fantastic and Demar honestly had he hit his original first attempt at his second dunk even Nate and his lucky streaky would have ended.

As for the other 2 contestants they were truly brutal. Shannon Brown was a lot of people's favorite and to say he was brutal was a huge understatement. Kobe deserved more points for his participation in his dunk than Brown deserved for his dunk itself. Bryant a former slam dunk champ himself had to be sitting there think he could beat all of there guys even if he is currently injured. Speaking of Kobe, Tas Melas of the Basketball Jones actually was able to get an interview this the Laker star...Check it out. Tas and J.E Skeets are doing some fantastic stuff in Dallas so make sure you check out their stuff from all star weekend.

Mentioning The Basketball Jones was far more important than mentioning Gearld Wallace who basically showed up for the dunk contest and that was about all. So in the end Demar DeRozan got to the finals and got screwed. That being said Demar really had a chance to avoid the screw job had he only his his 2nd dunk on the first attempt in Finals. Robinson won the fan voting with just 51% of the vote in the end. As pathetic as it is to say is the only 3 time dunk champion in the history of the contest. Last night's event took the dunk contest a long way towards going back to mothballs. It was an event that for me really was not worth staying up till 2:30 am in the end. Why so late? I had to catch the replay on Raptors T.V cause I was watching John Wall play for Kentucky and he looked more impressive in the 2nd half then anyone in this dunk off minus the one dunk by Demar.

All Star Weekend limps to the finish today with the game itself and CB4 will be representing the Raptors and the East in his hometown. Like the athletes for Canada in Olympics CB4 will have some homecourt advantage as much as you can have in a 90,000 football stadium. Chris will be taking part in All-Star Game for 5th time.


Demar Ain't Done

Demar DeRozan moved on to beat Eric Gordon Getting 61% of the vote and this is how he did if you happened to be watching the Olympics and missed it.

(Courtesy of Raptors.com/NBA.com)

As you can see Demar didn't really have to push himself that hard to advance. In those highlights it leaves out the many missed attempts by Eric Gordon. Basically This Dunk Contest was pretty much over after the first dunk. Demar did a V.C like between the legs dunk and honestly made it look easy. Gordon blew like 3 or 4 attempts and that was pretty much it. Demar played it conservative and threw down what for him is a basic dunk and he was off to tonight's dunk off. NBA.Com had the wrong picture above is name for online voting but it didn't matter.

So now we see what Demar truly has in his bag of tricks tonight. Rumour has it he has some sort of Michael Jackson gimmick cooked up. That should play well with a massive crowd at Cowboys Stadium. Demar has never lost a dunk contest on any level and he seems to love and embrace that concept. I have talked with him personally on a couple of occasions and he seems pretty matter a fact about it all. By the way did you notice last night he gave a chest bump to former Raptor Jerome Williams in the front row last night. Demar is in this thing to win it. His approach last night seemed to suggest that. He was not going to show the world his full bag of tricks just yet. Tonight he will bust out the whole package of tricks.

Heir Canada will be born tonight in Dallas. Go Demar Go. Make Raptor fans proud. If you would like to hear/read previous interviews with double d just use our search engine on the right. I have had the chance to talk with Demar 4 or 5 times since training camp in Ottawa when I first met him. He is a very nice young man that as a most times quiet confidence. Although ask him who will win a dunk off between him and Sonny Weems and that confidence will be loud. Both Weems and Jarrett Jack are rumoured to be part of the show tonight assisting Demar in his effort to be Dunk Champion. Unfortunately unless you have TSN2 you are out of luck in watching it. But don't worry video moves fast in this world and you can bet highlights will be up in an instant.

So best of luck to Demar DeRozan and here is hoping we are talking about the 2010 Slam Dunk Champion from your Toronto Raptors tomorrow in Dino Nation Blog.


Round Ball Review- All-Star Less Than Spectacular

Well Joey G filed a report from All-Star Weekend. We did not get a chance to edit this so this is what Joey sent us.

Well I guess J.B Superstar was right that Joey G couldn't pull it off covering All-Star Weekend. Hope you got a laugh from this and enjoy All-Star Weekend.

Battle Continues For DNB

The Dino Blogger has advanced in the Pros vs Joes Contest on Whotheman.com. I am happy to say that is round 1 yours truly had the highest vote total of anyone in the contest. So thanks to the folks of the Dino Nation that took the time to vote. Well Round 2 is here and I am backing CB4 to be the first Raptor to have his number retired in team history

So if you agree with me and want to support the Dino Nation Blog go sign up and vote here on Whotheman.com and help me advance to the pro bracket final. I don't win anything in this contest, so it is about pride, not personal gain. So spare me 2 minutes and go vote. I give you folks hours and hours of my time working hard for you so this is your chance to give me 2 minutes back

Here is my second video in the contest.


Chris Bosh Wants To Run This Town?

The Toronto Raptors keep the ball rolling with a home win over the Sixers in which the final score did not tell the story. The Raptors built a 23 point lead at one point only to see the Sixers tie the game at 94 in the 4th. It was a wild night at the ACC included in it the "Return of Reggie" which was one of the best moments in a long time at the ACC. The fans exploded when he went to check into the game and they did not stop for the entire time he was on the floor. Reggie Evans has been a hit in Toronto with out even doing much on the floor itself. But in the 5 minutes he was on the floor you got a taste of why. Reggie gave everything he had in his gas tank. His stat line of 2 points, 3 rebounds and a steal did not really tell the story. It was the hustle, the drawing a charge and the energy he brought to the building and the team. Back in the days of the Dawg Pound and the JYD it was never as jacked up as that. At least it sure didn't seem like it was. There were even chants in the 3rd quarter with the Raptors up big of "WE WANT REGGIE" to which Jay Triano would not cave too.

Speaking of cave the Raptors almost did. Jose Calderon with some Spanish magic nailed a 3 was fouled and had a 4 point play with game tied. The Raptors would roll from there to snap a 5 game win streak for the Sixers and extend a home winning streak to 8 games. There was no question who ran the T-Dot on this night, it was the Toronto Raptors with a 104-93 win over Philly. I live blogged this game for The Score and it was fun to share the experience of this game with a fairly large gathering of Raptors Fans.

However the interesting night was not done. Chris Bosh kind of looked the beast in the face and did not bow down to it. The beast? Hockey and the fact that Toronto is a hockey town. Some will take this one way and some the other. But before we go there here is what he said

Chris Bosh "For those who keep saying its a hockey town, its getting old"

I couldn't agree more. Chris Bosh some will say this is a sign to worry for 2010. That Bosh is frustrated and wants out. But go look at the comment in context on Raptors.com. Even Hockey pucks may not want to admit this fact but Chris Bosh is the biggest star in Sports in Toronto. He Runs this town in those terms. I think that Chris wants to embrace the challenge of making basketball and the Raptors a viable opposition to the team they share the ACC with and ownership with.

Everyone tries to play mind reader when it comes to 2010 and Bosh. I am no different. However in watching Chris all of these years you come to learn, this is not a guy that thinks inside the box. That is why the idea of turning Toronto into a basketball town and perhaps after the city the nation is next may sound nuts. Hockey as we are all going to learn with the Olympics going on in Vancouver starting tomorrow will always be #1.

However the one thing that bothers me and always has, is that we who love basketball first are suppose to just bow to that and be happy with whatever scrap the media throws our way. That it is some how Anti-Canadian to love a game that was invented by one of our own.

Maybe this was Bosh saying that you know what if you love basketball and the Raptors the time for bowing and kneeling to hockey has come to an end. It will be the Raptors playing games in Late April and beyond at the ACC and not the Leafs.

Some may be fans of both sports and not want to be bothered to have to pick a side in this. I am not saying anyone has too. But when you look at things objectively, basketball and the Raptors do not get the attention that they truly deserve. Sure all of the media outlets are there, but everyone knows if a story breaks in Hockey, the air time they will have in T.V or the space they will have in a newspaper just got smaller.

There is also the issue of broadcasting games. We all remember the Rogers/TSN battle last year that left many of us in the dark for TSN2 broadcasts. Well some folks still to this day across this country are without it. Just the name TSN 2 says 2nd best and alternate programing doesn't it? Raptors do not deserve to be 2nd class citizens and if TSN does not deem them worth to be on the main network than maybe they shouldn't be there for those games. This is not a plug for any other network to get more games specifically. Just that Raptors deserve a network with max reach to have their games on. That network isn't TSN 2.

So if Chris Bosh stays and continues to fight the good fight for the Raptors beyond 2010, perhaps the Raptors will finally get to run this town, and dare I say this country on a few nights. It is hard not to feel a bit bitter about the fact that Hockey on most days is the first, second,third and forth story on most sportscasts across this country. If you think Bosh doesn't understand what that is like you would be wrong. He gets it because he comes from Dallas where as much as Mark Cuban may not want to hear this, The Cowboys can have that influence over Dallas.

So it may not be a declaration of war on Hockey or the Leafs. It is a declaration of we who love basketball are tired of bowing to the sport of Hockey and we are looking for our piece of the action. If the Raptors keep winning there may be no choice but for folks to take notice. Here is to more nights of the Raptors RUNNING THIS TOWN, LED BY CB4!!!

Update 10PM Thursday: My Round 2 battle has started on Whotheman.com in their Pro vs Joes contest and the topic is actually on Chris Bosh come vote and support the Dino Nation Blog>>>Vote Here


Time To Unleash The Beast- The Return Of Reggie

I am so happy today for Reggie Evans. When I traveled to Ottawa this year for training camp the first person I interviewed was Reggie. I was really upset when he went down in the pre-season vs Boston. I was so looking forward to the toughness and rebounding he would bring to the game. I don't think Reggie or anyone could have imagined that injury would end up keeping him out for so long.

The misfortune of Reggie has been the fortune for Amir Johnson. Johnson has filled the minutes that likely would have fallen mostly to Reggie. In conversations with Reggie I know he was happy for all the success Amir has had with that chance. As great as Amir has been there is something a little more in what you get from Reggie Evans in terms of rebounding and toughness. In terms of offense both guys are a bit challenged at times. But make no mistake about it Reggie will be a positive impact regardless of how many minutes he plays.

This has been the first time in Reggie's career he has had a major injury. In a interview here in the Dino Nation Blog he gave great credit to the Raptors training staff for keeping him positive. He also gave a lot of love to all of the fans that have been supportive towards him. When he is on Twitter on @ReggieEvans30 he can be seen talking with fans and giving away tickets to games. The Raptor fan base back in the pre-season loved Reggie and in both Ottawa and in London chants of REGGIE REGGIE were quick to start. This was the very first move of many that Bryan Colangelo made this past off-season. Now Bryan and all of us to see what Bryan had in mind for making this team tougher and giving the team a presence on the glass.

Some will say that I am not being objective when it comes to Reggie. I mean folks in the media seem to go out of their way to make sure they appear objective in covering things. I understand all of that but we are also human beings the same as anyone else. So, be it your reporting for a main stream media outlet, writing a blog, or just a fan of the team if you do not feel happy for Reggie you are heartless. Sometimes in sports the idea that these folks playing in the jerseys are people gets lost. So, I am not ashamed to say that I happy and thrilled to see Reggie back.

I am willing to wait a week or two to just be happy for a fellow human being (Who is a great person) and share in the excitement and joy in them working back to the point they can play, the sport they love and I love. Tonight the Raptors will take on the Sixers but for me it is all about #30 getting the chance to suit up and play.

Go Reggie Go......Unleash THE BEAST!!!