The Toronto Raptors held an exclusive town-hall type event for season ticket holders. Notable players and executives were in attendance to answer choice questions from fans, and to give a miniature state-of-the-union regarding the goals and direction of the franchise. Today’s post will cover the highlights, including a riled-up Masai Ujiri, the direction of the franchise, and Jonas Valanciunas’ Halloween costume.
In Masai We Trust
I’m always worried when someone reaches cult-like status. Often times in our rush to anoint a hero, we inadvertently generate a backlash that manifests in a legion of contrarians who root for their failure just to revel in schadenfreuden. Success and attention breeds haters, and I’m worried that this might be happening to Masai Ujiri.
If you happen to be one of these haters, perhaps the following quote from Ujiri will change your mind, because quite frankly, he’s kinda awesome:
“We have to make [the ACC] a living hell for players who come play here. When you come to Toronto on a Sunday afternoon at 1:00 o’clock, guess what? You’re getting your ass kicked…when you’re coming here on a Friday night, you’re getting your ass kicked.”
I can’t wait until Ujiri decides to take this to the next level, and brings Bruce Bowen out of retirement so their opponents can get their faces kicked as well. Fingers crossed.
Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here: Cabbie’s No Longer On the Streets
Everyone here knows who Cabbie is, right? He’s that loveable dude that used to make feature pieces for the channel formerly known as The Score Television Network? Well if you don’t, you should definitely check him out. Here’s a link to a hilarious mini-series with Kobe Bryant. He actually started from the bottom (an intern at The Score) and now he’s here, hosting this Raptors Town Hall event (and working for TSN).
Cabbie did his usual thing. He got really personal with the players and he used his self-effacing and irresistible charm to eke out a couple of funny quotes from Demar Derozan, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. Here are some highlights:
On Sound Effects:
[Cabbie]: My friend and I always used to do the sound effect when we shoot [imitates swish noise]. Do you guys do that too?
[Amir]: I do, but mine is different.
[Cabbie]: What does yours sound like?
[Amir]: Mine goes [makes rattling noise]
[Cabbie]: Because it rattles in and out?
[Cabbie]: What about you guys? Do you make the sound effect when you’re shooting jumpers?
[Jonas]: Nah, I’m not shooting jumpers. I’m just dunking.
[Cabbie]: So you guys have two weeks. What are you guys doing for Halloween?
[Jonas]: Uhh, I’m not celebrating Halloween.
[Cabbie]: WHAT? What do you mean? It’s the best night!
[Jonas]: Alright! I’ll try this year. I’ll dress like you.
[Cabbie]: Okay we can. I’ll be Jim Carey, and you be Jeff Daniels [from Dumb and Dumber]
[Jonas]: Nah. I’ll be you.
[Cabbie]: Oh! You want to be me! No you can’t be me.
Cabbie is the man. Nobody asks hard-hitting questions and delves to the bottom of the story like he does. Now that he’s got the answers, I challenge the RR faithful to come up with your best Cabbie x Jonas photoshop. Basically, if you can put a soft-colored collared shirt and jeans on Jonas, you win.
Rebuilding v. Contending (for the millionth time)
Given the Raptors’ current position, perhaps the subject is warranted and the debate is worth having, but there aren’t really any new developments at this point. Ujiri keeps talking about how he wants to see if there’s any “growth” with this roster before making any key decisions, which is as about as non-committal as you can get. The fans wanted to know, and Leiweke had this to say:
“There is no simple quick solution in the NBA. You all know that this is a league in which you build the core and the nucleus through the draft”
Whoa! Big news! Score one for the tankers! But wait, he also had this to say:
“…If you don’t have the right culture, I don’t care how many picks you have, I don’t care how many players you can trade for, I don’t care how much cap space you have, you have to have the culture…is to a person, every one of us now is devoted to going out and winning the Larry O”Brien Trophy for Toronto”
So…does that mean that he intends to create a winning culture first, before getting the players for a championship run? Doesn’t that require some winning and success? I don’t know.
Look, I know you’re going to break into a huge tanking/contend debate in the comments below, and that’s cool. I just want to remind everyone that we’re all on the same team, and we all want the Raptors to win the NBA title. Everyone got that? Okay, now go argue.