Toronto Raptors

Andrew Wiggins: Canada's LeBron

Andrew Wiggins: Canada's LebronI only became aware of Andrew Wiggins last year when my brother Ryan espoused his virtues as a slam-dunk #1 pick in 2014. Wiggins is from Vaughan "The City Above Toronto" and currently plays for Huntington Prep High School in West Virginia. I'm told the nickname "Canada's LeBron" is well deserved.

If Andrew Wiggins stays healthy, he's a lock to go first overall in 2014, but already I'm seeing articles asking if the Raptors shouldn't tank for Wiggins.... next season.


I've never been comfortable with the idea of a team intentionally sucking in order to score a better draft pick. I like to root for my team to win, even if I know they can't win the championship, and I believe we owe it to sport to make the opposition earn every win against us. The notion of tanking has never agreed with me.

And in the NBA, you can come in dead last and not get the #1 pick. In fact, there's a 75% chance you won't get the first pick overall if you come in last. That's far from a guarantee.

Wiggins may be a once-in-a-generation player, and he's even Canadian, but if we're already talking about tanking to improve our odds of drafting him in 2014, we really are hopeless.

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A Tale of Two Raptor Teams

A Tale of Two Raptor TeamsLess than a month ago, the Raptors were 4-19. 4-19 is pretty ugly. 4-19 was enough to get me to stop tuning in, despite the fact my main winter team isn't playing at all.

Since then, the Raptors have won 8 of 9. 12-20 is nothing to write home about, but it beats the mess out of 4-19. Heck, in the Eastern Conference, 12-20 puts us in 10th place, only 2.5 games out of the playoffs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

With Andrea Bargnani out of the lineup, and the Raps putting in a solid defensive effort most nights, I've been watching again, and it's been fun. It's not a star-laden team, but it's a cohesive collective that plays together and shares the wealth between DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon, Kyle Lowry, Ed Davis, Alan Anderson, Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross who managed to score 26 points last night.

I'm not foolish enough to suggest the Raptors will make the playoffs, and I'm well aware these wins are coming against weaker teams, but with 8 wins in 9 games, they certainly have my attention.

Ping me when we trade Bargnani for a 2nd round pick.

P.s. Sorry to hear Raptorized John passed away. I've heard his calls on The FAN 590 for so long, it was like he was a part of the station. Raptorized John had a distinctive voice and always started his call with "Yo!".

Raptorized John died last week during his sleep. I'm thinking he would have been jazzed about Ross's effort last night.

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The Christmas Day Bargnani Fight

The Christmas Day Bargnani FightMy brothers and I ended up in the same room Tuesday as we met up at my mom's for Christmas dinner. Many topics were passionately discussed, but the one that caused the biggest uproar was Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani.

With an embedded photographer in the room, a great deal of this debate was captured. In a nutshell, my brother Ryan is somewhat blinded by the Fantasy Sports value of a player and gets that confused with the real-game value of a player. Apparently, he really likes Andrea Bargnani's numbers and considers him an asset. Meanwhile, Steve and I are ready to ship him out of town for a couple of basketballs and consider him an overrated disappointment.

Here's Ryan emphatically telling me Bargnani should yield a first round pick in a trade.

Xmas 2012

Here's my brother Steve and I trying to decide which course of logic to follow first.

Xmas 2012

As a courtesy, we heard him out, of course.

Xmas 2012

At some point, Ryan compared Andrea Bargnani to Dirk Nowitzki. That's when I needed to sit down.

Xmas 2012

This argument could go all night...

Xmas 2012

To the computer!

Xmas 2012

Conclusion: Bargnani is a nice pickup for your fantasy sports team, but if you have a real NBA team, you'll be better off when he's out of the lineup. Sorry, Ry.

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Canadians in the NBA

canadians in nbaWhen the Toronto Raptors released Toronto native Jamaal Magloire the other day, it brought the number of Canadians in the NBA down to 8.

Here are the 8 Canadians currently playing in the NBA:

  • Joel Anthony - C - Miami Heat
  • Samuel Dalembert - C - Houston Rockets
  • Cory Joseph - PG - San Antonio Spurs
  • Kris Joseph - SF - Boston Celtics
  • Steve Nash - PG - Los Angeles Lakers
  • Andrew Nicholson - PF - Orlando Magic
  • Robert Sacre - C - Los Angeles Lakers
  • Tristan Thompson - PF - Cleveland Cavaliers

Nash playing for the Lakers presents an interesting dilemma I'll address in episode 11 of Toronto Mike'd, which just happens to be recording tonight.

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The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams

The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams?I think we're about to hit a new bottom... at least a new bottom for Toronto sports teams. With the Euro Cup and Olympic distractions behind us, and summer winding down, I've decided to do a quick State of the Union analysis of Toronto professional sports teams.

Toronto Blue Jays
I'm sad to say I haven't followed this team much the past few weeks. Oh... I see we're dead last in the AL East, 15 games behind the Yankees. And our wild card hopes have evaporated... and half the team is on the DL. Wasn't that new wild card supposed to belong to us? Nah, we'll finish last instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs haven't made the playoffs since before the last labour stoppage, and now it looks like we're heading into another. We diehards don't even get to enjoy watching our team miss the playoffs again. That might be the only thing worse than the longest non-playoff streak in the league. Sad and pitiful.

Toronto Raptors
We sucked last year, and we'll suck again this season. Every analyst and pundit has assured me of that. And really, even if a miracle of miracles occurred and we slipped into 8th place in the conference, Miami would chew us up and spit us out in 4.

Toronto Argos
Firstly, I fully acknowledge that almost none of you care about the CFL. I just checked the standings and we're 3-3. That almost sounds decent until you see in an 8-team league only one team has a worse record. That shit's cray!

Toronto FC
Lastly, we check in on our professional MLS soccer team. I remember getting off to a horrible start, but I've lost touch with them recently. I wonder how they're doing.... Oh... dead last in the Eastern Conference. That sounds about right.

So there you have it, a quick review of how it currently looks for Toronto sports teams. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we've found a brand new low.

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Andy Gray's @si_vault Toronto Picture Dump

Andy Gray's @si_vault Toronto Picture DumpAndy Gray from Sports Illustrated is tweeting Toronto-centric pictures this afternoon.

I'm a Toronto-centric kind of guy who loves sports (and gets Sports Illustrated every week), so I'm collecting them all here along with Andy's accompanying tweets and some commentary from yours truly.


AG: Jack Morris, Dave Stewart, Todd Stottlemyre & Juan Guzman pose at a 1993 SI photo shoot

TM: Damn, I miss these days. I once stalked Stottlemyre at the CNE to get his autograph.


AG: Toronto Argonauts owners Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy attend a 1991 game

TM: The kids and I just watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A few months ago, we watched Uncle Buck. I miss John Candy.


AG: SI photographer John McDonough took this great shot of Vince Carter

TM: Nope, I'm still not ready to make nice.


AG: Felix Potvin and his cat pose for a 1982 (sic) SI photo shoot

TM: Of course, Andy meant 1992. Speaking of stuff I miss, damn I miss Felix Potvin and this Leafs team that made the Conference finals twice in the early 90s.


AG: How amazing was this Toronto promotion (from 1946 Knicks-Huskies game)?

TM: I hate the name "Raptors" and wish we had gone with "Huskies".


AG: Get your cigar, recline your La-Z-Boy. We're going with Toronto photos all day. David Wells is excited!

TM: I saw STP and RHCP with David Wells... sorta.


AG: Tie Domi and Lyle Odelein get acquainted during a 2000 game between the Leafs and Devils

TM: My old pal.


AG: Marcus Camby poses for a photo at Raptors Media Day in 1997

TM: I can't believe Camby is still playing. He's old... he's my age!


AG: Blue Jays shortstop Danny Ainge in action

TM: NBA star Danny Ainge started at third for the Jays back in 1981. Here are the other starting third basemen in Blue Jays history.


AG: Joe Theismann in action with the Toronto Argonauts during the 1972 season

TM: This is the first photo, outside the Huskies ticket, that doesn't bring back memories.


AG: Cousins Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter in 1999

TM: T-Mac never seemed happy.


AG: Kelly Gruber celebrates Toronto Day at the SI Vault (for @GrubersMullet and Gruber lovers everywhere)

TM: Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly.


AG: Roberto Alomar lays out for a catch during the 1992 World Series against Atlanta

TM: The greatest Blue Jay of all-time.


AG: Toronto fans celebrate after the Blue Jays won the 1992 World Series

TM: I'll never forget.


AG: Jesse Barfield and his son let their Soul Glo before a 1996 (sic) Blue Jays-Orioles game

TM: I loved Barfield, and I love this picture. There's my Exhibition Stadium in what is likely 1986. Barfield had a cannon for an arm.


AG: Wendel Clark scores a goal during a 1993 Caps-Leafs game

TM: All heart.


AG: Canadian legend Tim Horton played 18 seasons for the Maple Leafs in the '50s and '60s

TM: That's right, kids. Tim Horton was a Leaf. In fact, he was one of the greatest Leafs.


AG: Dave Keon and Pierre Pilote chase down a loose puck during a 1967 Maple Leafs-Blackhawks game

TM: I missed Keon's entire career, but I caught his return.


AG: Brian McNamee stretches out Roger Clemens before a 1997 Toronto-Baltimore game

TM: Roger Clemens, part of baseball's lost generation.


AG: How did Chris Bosh let SI take this photo of him?

TM: Bosh was more Vince than we realized. Go Celtics!


AG: SI's Chuck Solomon with a great aerial shot of Joe Carter scoring the winning run of the 1993 World Series

TM: Joe touched 'em all, and it's been all downhill since then.


AG: Toronto Day is over as I have to meet Robbie Alomar at his Skydome hotel room for dinner. Hope you enjoyed

TM: Fess up, Toronto. How many of you slept with Roberto Alomar?

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The Latest Raptors Recap Ever

The Latest Raptors Recap EverI watched the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminate the Los Angeles Lakers last night. That's rather significant, because I can count the basketball games I've watched this season on one hand.

Since the Raptors arrived in 1995 this is by far the least I've followed them. For one, it was a shortened season, and I was rooting for the lockout. It was a lost season and we all knew it so why emotionally invest? I opted out.

Having said that, I've never opted out of a lost Leafs season, and there have been plenty of those. I chalk that up to the simple fact that I'm a bigger hockey fan than I am a basketball fan. Still, I'm shocked at how invisible this Raptors season was... it started and then it was over.

Heading into this season, I wanted two things. I wanted the Mavs to fizzle out because I didn't want Vince Carter winning an NBA Championship. That happened. And I'd like the Heat to lose.... just because. Here's hoping that happens in the 2nd round against the Pacers.

So that's my super late Raptors recap. We stunk, but we knew we'd stink, and we think we have a decent coach and brighter days ahead.

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Leafs Sold to Rogers and Bell, No Longer Pension Plan Puppets

leafsSo this just happened...

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has sold its 79.53 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to Rogers Communications and BCE for more than $1.2 billion. BCE is fancy talk for Bell. That's right, Bell and Rogers now each own 37.5% of MLSE, which owns, among other things, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, TFC and the Toronto Marlies.

A couple of thoughts immediately spring to mind... These partnerships between Rogers and Bell make me very nervous. We need them to hate each other, right? It can't be good for the competitive landscape, for those of us who need Internet access and mobile talk and data plans and cable tv, when these telecom behemoths keep jumping into bed together.


And what will become of Pension Plan Puppets, the go-to Leafs blog in these parts? I hope they keep the name for tradition, the way we secular folks still call this Santa holiday Christmas.

But what matters most, of course, is will this help my Leafs win the cup? Since we've already given Brian Burke autonomy and let him spend the cap, I'm thinking it won't make a difference. At least it won't hurt...

What do you guys think of the sale of MLSE?

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Why This Raptors Fan Was Rooting For the Lockout

nbaNBA players and owners tentatively agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement early this morning and a 66 game season will start on Christmas Day. As a Raptors fan, I was rooting for the lockout.

This is going to be a lost season for Raptor fans. Bryan Colangelo is in the midst of another rebuild, working to have as much as $24 million in salary cap flexibility for the 2012-2013 season. That certainly won't help us during this abbreviated season.

Take a look at our current roster. Sure, we all like how DeMar DeRozan keeps getting better, but what really does Dwane Casey have to work with? What real hope is there that we squeak into the playoffs? Slim to none, and slim just caught a Greyhound to Cleveland.


At least there will be playoffs at the ACC this spring. That's right, I'm calling it. Go Leafs Go!

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Chris Bosh Back in Toronto, Awaits Deserved Boos

raptorsI can't remember the last time I wrote about the Toronto Raptors. It's been that kind of forgettable season. We're awful.

We might be awful, but tonight there's a good reason for casual fans to get excited again. Chris Bosh is back in town with his Miami Heat teammates to face the Raps at the ACC and he's going to get the Vince Carter treatment. He's getting the Vince Carter treatment because he deserves the Vince Carter treatment.

Admittedly, I defended his Raptor career when he signed with Miami and didn't see the Carter comparison right away, but I've since seen the light.

Appearing on the FAN 590, Bryan Colangelo said Bosh wasn't the same player toward the end of last year. In essence, he quit on us.

Colangelo said on Monday's show that whether Bosh was "mentally checked out or, you know, just wasn't quite into it down the stretch, he wasn't the same guy. And I think everybody saw that, just no one wanted to acknowledge it."

Quitters deserve to get booed. Tonight should be fun.

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