Sorry its been a while but I’ve been busy plucking grey chest hairs and applying special creams to parts of my body.
First off, happy 43rd birthday to the most perfect woman on the planet, Charlize Theron.
It has been the summer of change in Toronto sports so I thought I would weigh in since everyone loves hearing what I have to say…(cue crickets).
When Masai Ujiri fired Dwayne Casey in May after leading the Raptors to their best regular season in franchise history, it was a shockingly bold move. Especially since, two days earlier, he was named Coach of the Year by the other NBA coaches. Over the years I have learned to step out of my fan shoes and into my perspective boots to examine moves like this. From that angle I could understand what he was doing, he wanted a new and younger voice to take a run with basically the same core of players. He also did not want to extend a 61-year old head coach who, while being a great basketball man and great leader, had issues adapting his defensive system on the fly as we all saw in the playoffs. My immediate response to the firing was that I was fine with it but since it was such a bold move, I thought the new coaching hire needed to be as bold. I was hoping to hear the names Dan Majerle or Bobby Hurley in the interview process, both former players with experience as NBA assistants and current NCAA head coaches (Hurley even finished his playing career in Vancouver so has an idea of the Canadian landscape). When after a month, Nick Nurse was announced I was underwhelmed. While I have no issue with him getting a shot as a head coach (he has certainly earned it), I was looking for an earth rattling choice. I figured with a low-key coaching hire, Masai and Bobby Webster had to be working the phones to make a major acquisition because I did not believe for a second that the current roster could stand, even with LeBron off in La-La Land. There had been some internet rumours from the media about Toronto being the dark horse to get Kawhi but while I was exercising cautious optimism, I have also learned that where there is smoke, there is likely someone leaking lighter fluid. When I heard the trade happened two things crossed my mind: Demar is going to have a broken heart and WE GOT KAWHI!!!! While I love Demar’s passion, heart and loyalty to this franchise and city, he is a fraction of the player that Kawhi Leonard has shown he can be. Being a 4-time All-Star means you are popular with the fans, not a great player. Kawhi is a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year as well as the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. He has a ring! This is redemption for the horrible trade made by Rob Babcock when he got a bag of balls and a water bottle for Vince Carter. With Kawhi and Danny Green replacing Demar and Jakob on the roster, this team is legitimate. If Kawhi decides to re-sign, it is a move of epic proportion and if he leaves, we start over. Either way, Demar was never going to lead a team to a championship. Playing for Pop in San Antonio, he will be second fiddle to LaMarcus Aldridge and playing in a system that is proven to win. I hope the best for Demar and if Kawhi doesn’t lead the Raps to a championship, I am pulling for the Spurs to dethrone the Warriors in the west.
In 2012, the Blue Jays were in a bad spot. John Farrell had decided to ditch the team to go manage the Red Sox and it was only slightly less embarrassing then the team’s 20-year absence from the playoffs. To pull attention off of those two things, then-GM Alex Anthopoulos decided to pull the trigger on a couple of major trades. He brought Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio to the team for a group of players and prospects led by Yunel Escobar and Henderson Alvarez, then in another deal I immediately hated, flipped Noah “Thor” Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and a couple more prospects to the Mets for RA Dickey and Josh Thole. The Jays were immediately talked about in the media as the favourite to win the East (even S.I. picked them) but the biggest shock came shortly after when John Gibbons was (re) named manager of the team. Vividly remembering his run from 2004-2008, I could not think of a worse hiring. I thought he was a hot-headed cartoon character (specifically Boomhauer from King of the Hill) and the disastrous 2013 season seemed to have proved me right. The thing about Gibby is that he had changed and over the past five years, I have grown to love the guy. He’s a smart baseball man and while slightly old school, he has learned about analytics and tried to progress his knowledge. Plus, he is hilarious. If you’ve ever watch one of his post game media scrums, you know what I mean. Normally, sitting at his desk, leaning back in his chair, occasionally an empty beer bottle in the background and always a funny anecdote about his managing skills. So, while in the final year of his deal but presently still the manager, it has been slightly annoying to hear the media (especially Jeff Blair, who I loathe) talk about who the next manager will be and if he needs to be fluent in Spanish (?) Let the guy finish his employment before you start speculating! We all know he is likely gone by the end of the season and with the team rebuilding, how is it productive to speculate about a job that is not vacant yet? Gibby deserves the respect of finishing out his contract on his own terms. He has earned that with the runs in 2015 and 2016. He is not to blame for the massive injuries to Tulo, Donaldson, Sanchez and Travis or the lack of prospects in the system prior to 2017 when Anthopoulos purged the system to get some of those guys. He has done the best he can with what he’s been given so before we start naming a successor, let the guy finish his term.