Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Raptors’

Bryan Colangelo – Game of Thrones

July 15, 2011 3 comments

Colangelo was hired 5 years ago and was seen as the saviour of the Raptors.

Last month, MLSE re-signed Bryan Colangelo to a two-year contract to be the GM of the Toronto Raptors. Fans on both sides (Colangelo haters vs. Colangelo there’s nobody really betters) decided to take a wait and see approach to how he rebuilds the team in the next couple of years before deciding if he had a long-term future with the Raptors. However, Colangelo envisions things going a little bit differently.

Now, we’ve known for a little while that Colangelo was looking to add a GM and retain the President tag, but the story lost a bit of steam as our local beat reporters had been unable to gain any traction on the story. However, Adrian Wojnarowski (really the best in the business for my money) broke the story last night that there are three potential candidates in place.

With the decision to hire a GM, and with the recent firing of Jay Triano, Colangelo has set up a safety net should things go wrong in the next couple of seasons even though all personnel decisions have been made by him. He’ll be the one doing the firing, and ironically, the GM would probably be the first one to go. BC has taken a page straight out of Richard Peddie’s book.

I’ve always been a BC sympathizer because I think the man is extremely intelligent and is in good standing with most of the league. He is quick to realize his mistakes and his work ethic is unparalleled. However, this is where I stop sympathizing. Five years ago this man was brought in to be the new GM of the Raptors. Last month he was re-signed to be the GM of the Raptors. Now, Colangelo has decided he doesn’t want to be the GM anymore and that says everything I need to know about his confidence in running this team – he’s lost it. He’s trying to save his job (like we all would) and he’s fantastic at doing so.

If Colangelo is unwilling to be the GM of this team then he should step away from the organization completely because whether or not he’s GM he will have final say on all basketball decisions without any of the accountability. It’s dishonest, cowardly, and the Toronto faithful deserve a better fate than what is going to befall them in the remainder of Colangelo’s reign.


Top 5 Famous Toronto Victories vs Chicago

June 14, 2011 2 comments
View from the famous Chicago Millennium Park

View from the famous Chicago Millennium Park

In honour of my recent visit to the windy city, I decided to compile a list of famous victories that Toronto teams have scored over their brethren to the midwest. These two cities have never really had a rivalry, but there’s been some very interesting moments between them. Let’s take a look.

#5. Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks – 1983 Regular Season 

This one was a bit of a stretch, but the big game history between Toronto and Chicago is surprisingly thin. However, this game happened to be a record-setter – the five fastest goals scored between two teams (1 minute 24 seconds). Now, imagine the momentum swings in that one. 5 goals in 84 seconds! The scoring started late in the second period when Toronto’s Gaston Gingers scored at the 16:49 mark. Chicago would reply with 3 goals in 30 seconds before the Leafs John Anderson replied 31 seconds later.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring either. The Leafs would go on to win the game 10-8 in one of the most bizarre momentum-changing games in Leafs history. There’s really nothing else to note of that season as the Leafs were mired in a 16 year Stanley Cup drought in the forgettable decade that was the 80s.

Ok, on to the good stuff.

#4. Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks – 1993-94 Game 6 Conference Quarter Finals

The Leafs had opened the season with 10 straight victories continuing their momentum from a breakout 1992-93 season where they were one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals. However, a tumultuous season was ahead capped by another frenetic playoff run. In the 1992-93 season, the Leafs defeated the Red Wings in the first round in one of the most memorable playoff series in Leafs history (click to get chills – “oh unbelievable”). However, you’ll be hard pressed to find many Leafs fans that remember the first round series in the 1993-94 season.

The Leafs were heavily favoured against the Blackhawks and promptly won the first two games of the series at home. However, the Blackhawks fought back to tie the series in Chicago that included a heart-breaking overtime win in Game 4. The Leafs returned home needing a win in Game 5 if they had any plans on repeating their playoff success from last season. Felix Potvin came up big once again and the Leafs held on to win 1-0 in a hard-fought affair with Mike Eastwood scoring the only goal. The Leafs would go back to Chicago and finish the series in six games backed by the 3rd 1-0 shutout win of the series.

The Leafs playoff push continued on with an incredible seven game series against the young San Jose Sharks. The Leafs completed a heroic comeback in Game 6 in San Jose and returned home to win it in 7. The Leafs were heavily favoured to reach the Stanley Cup Finals and took Game 1 of the Conference Finals against the Canucks. However, they’d drop the next four to continue their Stanley Cup drought.

#3. Toronto Blue Jays vs Chicago White Sox – 1993 ALCS Game 5

The Jays had taken a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALCS after winning both games in Chicago, but momentum had completely shifted when the White Sox took games 3 and 4 to tie the series 2-2. Game 5 would also take place in Toronto because of the 2-3-2 format making it a must-win for the Blue Jays before heading back to Chicago for Games 6 and 7.

The Jays turned to ace Juan Guzman who like in Game 1 did not disappoint. Guzman went seven strong innings and gave up only one run before turning it over to the bullpen to close it out. On the other side, White Sox ace Jack Mcdowell was pinged for 3 runs and never made it out of the 3rd inning. The White Sox bullpen helped stop the bleeding, but it wasn’t enough to keep Chicago in the game. In the 9th the Jays turned to closer Duane Ward who promptly gave up a 2-run shot to Robin Ventura to make it a 5-3 game. Ward recovered and struck out Bo Jackson to close out a famous Game 5 victory for the Jays.

The Jays regained momentum in the series and headed to Chicago for Game 6 where Dave Stewart threw another solid game and the Jays used a 3-run ninth to add a little breathing room to their slim 1-run lead. The Jays would win Game 6 and the series and eventually their second World Series in as many years.

#2. Chicago Blackhawks vs Toronto Maple Leafs – 1962 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6

It had been 11 years since the Maple Leafs had won a Stanley Cup and the infamous “Bill Barilko” curse was on everyone’s mind. Barilko famously scored the winning goal in the 1951 Stanley Cup against the Montreal Canadians. That would be the last goal he would ever score as later that summer Barilko mysteriously disappeared while on a fishing trip. The curse stated that the Leafs wouldn’t win another cup until the remains of Barilko were found.

In 1962 the Leafs returned to the Stanley Cup final against the defending champion Blackhawks. Led by famous names Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, and Tim Horton the Leafs would win the series in six games after nearly blowing an early 2-0 lead in the series. Tim Horton assisted on the game-winning goal setting up Dick Duff after an incredible end-to-end rush. The Leafs would go on to win 2-1 and lift the Cup for the first time in 11 years. Three weeks later the remains of Bill Barilko and the plane wreckage were found.

Perhaps the curse was transferred to the Blackhawks who wouldn’t win another Stanley Cup until last season – a drought of 48 years.

#1. Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls – March 24, 1996

It was the Raptors inaugural season and the Chicago Bulls were the best team in basketball. The Raptors were mired in the struggles that all rookie franchises encounter finishing the season at 21-61. However, on March 24, 1996 the Raptors would score one of the biggest victories in Toronto sports history.

The Bulls were led by Michael Jordan and would eventually finish the season with an NBA-best 72-10 record. One of those losses would come to the expansion Raptors in a thrilling 109-108 victory where Jordan’s last second shot was waved off as he released it after the buzzer. The video does more justice than my words ever could and the fans at the Skydome that day were fantastic.

It’s somewhat fitting that the most memorable victory came in a Little Giants kind of way. It’s rather poetic don’t ya think?

The Next Head Coach of the Raptors…Part II

Casey posted a 53-69 record in Minnesota.

Yesterday we took a look at the career of Lawrence Frank and assessed his fit as the next head coach of the Raptors. Today, we’ll look at the other frontrunner for the position: Dwane Casey.

You would have to be a hardcore basketball fan to recognize the name Dwane Casey. It’s certainly not a household name, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify it from this race. Dwane Casey has more experience as a coach than Lawrence Frank – just not as a head coach.

Casey’s only stint as an NBA coach lasted less than two full seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Casey was hired ahead of the 2005-2006 season to try to revive a Timberwolves team that only two seasons before had reached the Western Conference Finals. Instead, the team stumbled to a 33-49 record and midway through his second season (with the Wolves battling for a playoff spot at 20-20) was relieved of his duties.

Casey’s time with Minnesota was unsuccessful, but his coaching resume is long and versatile. He began his career as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky University before moving on to be an assistant at his alma mater Kentucky where he won the 1978 NCAA championship as a player. After 5 seasons at Kentucky, Casey was embroiled in a scandal involving alleged player payments to recruit Chris Mills. Although Casey denied the allegations he was placed on probation for 5 years by the NCAA and was forced out of Kentucky. With his career in tatters, Casey looked overseas for his next opportunity.

That opportunity arose in Japan where he would spend 5 more seasons as the men’s and women’s national program’s head coach. His time in Japan rejuvenated his career and in the 1994-95 season he found his first gig at the NBA level. He would spend 11 seasons as a Supersonics assistant before landing the head coaching job at Minnesota.

Since his firing, Casey has rebounded again and is in the spotlight because of his work with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks, gifted offensively but whose failings could be attributed to a porous defense, have carried a new defensive focus to the brink of an NBA championship. And the man credited with the transformation is Dwane Casey.

Casey has spent nearly 30 years as a coach, but only 6.5 years in charge, and 1.5 at the NBA level. He’s known for instilling tough, efficient defenses and is praised for his preparation and player development. However, he has been questioned for his rotations, offensive creativity and laid-back attitude.

To be fair, that Minnesota team was flawed and Casey had a lottery bound team in a playoff race before his firing. To evaluate him based on his time in Minnesota alone would be cruel. However, if this team is looking for a veteran “head coach”, Casey isn’t the man. This team has experimented with lifelong assistant coaches before and it hasn’t worked out. If Colagelo’s M.O. is to bring in someone with immediate credibility then Casey might not be the best candidate. However, if Colangelo can look past his head coaching resume and see a man that instills a solid defensive philosophy along with his ability to work with a flawed roster (which the Raptors certainly have) then perhaps he is the better choice.

It seems the race has come down to two men: Casey or Frank. However, both of them could be out the door if this team doesn’t show enough signs of success in the next two seasons. Their jobs will be in the hands of Colangelo who is feeling the pressure to assemble a roster that can win sooner rather than later.

So, who do you think would be the best fit for the current Raptors team?