I was asked by a fellow basketball fan in the US to describe the current state of the Raptors in one word and that is what I said.
I’ve taken many management courses throughout my career and I have seen that taking a step back, surveying the situation and trying to head problems off at the pass is pretty important when you run things. Just as important, though, is to have some type of disaster recovery in place. Get a replacement trained and in place in case something happens to you or one of your chiefs. Make it someone of value that has been around your company for a while and can guide the flock. In the case of the Raptors, Bryan Colangelo has failed to do this.
With the departure of the undisputed leader of this team, Chris Bosh, we look at the current roster and have to worry. We have been graced with a bunch of kids who seem to think Twitter and TMZ are as important as effort on the court. DeRozan, Weems, Johnson, etc seem to want to act the fool as much as they want to represent themselves as team players and strive to be AllStars. To that scary mix, we’ve added a self-described jokester with the 50th pick who some of you think will step in and be a heavy rotation player in a few years. Personally, I read Colangelo’s body language as we just picked up another Jawai. Ed Davis sounds great, but has the personality of a new kid at a new school with braces and chicken pox on his first day. That said, once DeMar gets his oversized hat wearing paws on him, I’m sure the kid will be cracking wise in between hoisting shots from centre court as opposed to real shooting drills.
As for the elders, I almost had to run to the bathroom when I read that Jarrett Jack was ready to run this team. The guy throws more snits per season than Drake does when his homies don’t tell him how great he is every 2.5 minutes as required in their posse contract.
Andrea? Seriously. The image of the guy running a team meeting is certifiable. I conjure up an elf trying to catch the attention of 14 reindeer that just downed a 6 pack of Red Bull each.
Hedo can be a leader but one has to wonder how much of his heart is in it. If I felt I was sold a bill of goods, I’m not sure I’d be busting my hump to be a leader of these merry men.
Colangelo is on the hook for this as is Triano. For two seasons you knew this time was coming. Good result or bad, as a manager of people you need to be ready for it. You can’t sit back, assume that in the worst case you can do a sign and trade and get equivalent talent back. You prepare for it by massaging the cap, adding complementary pieces that feed each other, and tinker. You don’t blow it up year after year and add friends of your major piece, have a glaring hole in the final year of his contract and sit idly by all season doing nothing to fix it.
With respect to Jay, you need to be in faces. You need to hold players accountable. You need to demand leaders among boys. You need constant communication with upper management and demand results from it. Jay, you had an entire nation behind you when you were handed the reigns. We willed you to do well. Instead you’ve turtled. If anything, you’ve become the Canada amongst the coaching staff: you want people to like you and tell you that you are good, but you are overshadowed by situations around you. You need to step out from behind the curtain and conduct.
Colangelo can save himself by doing something he has never done with the fans in his time in Toronto: be honest. Come out and tell us, now that he’s gone, what changed in Bosh after the all-star break. What happened in that locker room or around it that pulled this team apart and made the second best player in franchise history choose a different path from that point on? What other shenanigans have been going on in the land of the Raptors the last 3 years that have made this team so undesirable to free agents, fans on the road, and, indeed, fans in Toronto as evidenced by poor attendance all season. Nothing would serve this franchise better than a full 30minute interview that is open, honest, and forthcoming. Michael Heisley did it with the Iverson situation and won a lot of respect for doing so. You can do the same.
Chris Bosh did what any one of us would do. He bashed his head against the wall for 7 years willing his teammates to play above themselves every night. His manager brought in friends of both his own and of Chris’ to no success. His manager traded draft picks away like they were play money. For most of the years we had one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, had the fewest scouts and early on had one of the most outdated video scouting systems in the league. Colangelo has fixed most of those, to be fair, but the quality of the coaching staff requires a bit more research than ordering an upgrade from a Betamax. Jay was a great fit for Chris, but there was a steady decline from there. Chris’ workplace was in a state of constant upheaval and any sane person would want that to either stop or would have to get out. Bryan refused to make it stop, so Bosh did the right thing and left. Of note here, of course, is that he played out his contract. He negotiated for the right to do what he did this summer. Anybody begrudging him that is quite simply an idiot.
I love this franchise. I want it to succeed with every ounce of my being. I’m as sick as you are of defending the moves and the departures and the losses. I revel when we pull something out of the hat like how we owned Cleveland in the home opener this past season. That feeling is always so fleeting, however. Here I find myself again wondering who I can latch my rope of faith on to next season. Just once I’d like to head into a Raptors season with some certainty. I don’t want to have to grab a media guide at summer league or training camp to figure out what the 7 new guys look like. Maybe add 1 or 2 draft picks, replace 1 or 2 free agents and call it a summer.
Chris Bosh put his heart and soul into his uniform every night. He was someone we could look at and have him remind us of the days of the division championship, the first banner to be won by this franchise. He was someone, unlike Colangelo, who faced the music at centre court, mic in hand, during the good and the bad times. He preached team. He appreciated the support of the fans, not playing them off as a necessary evil as Bryan did toward the end of his end of season press conference this year. Bosh WAS the Toronto Raptors to many observers south of the border.
Consistency is one of the keys to success. Unfortunately the only consistency that Colangelo has shown in his time in Toronto is that of being a failure.
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