Archive for November 2012

#RallyForRed

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As you may know, I'm on the radio every Sunday night hosting a hip-hop radio show called The Booth on Red River Radio.

But this Tuesday, November 20, I will be on the radio for a much nobler purpose, as my Radio PR class will be putting on a radiothon for Canadian Blood Services, encouraging people to give blood and save some lives.

Over the last couple of weeks, our class has been working hard to promote the radiothon, and try to set ourselves up to get the most people possible into the Canadian Blood Services Clinic (777 William Ave). So far we've had a lot of interest, but we'd still love to have a lot more people come down and support a great cause.

So, if you're in the Exchange District on November 20, why not head down to 777 William Ave and give blood. Or if you're closer to the RRC Exchange District Campus, you can take one of the shuttles from there and give blood that way.

We're going to be on the air from 7am-7pm, and I'll be on between 4-7pm, so whatever you do make sure you at least give a listen to hear some amazing stories and interviews about the importance of giving blood, and the way it really can save lives.

For more updates on the event, visit radio.rrc.ca.

Have a great weekend.

Listen to The Booth.

Listen to the radiothon.

#rallyforred


The 2012-2013 Toronto Raptors

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When I tell people the Toronto Raptors are my favorite basketball team, I get a lot of laughs in return. I'm going to start off by saying a couple things about the Toronto Raptors in general.

Listen, I know the Raptors haven't put together a dangerous team in over a decade. Yes, I realize league-wide they're probably one of the least relevant basketball teams of all time. I'm aware that the average basketball fan in the United States will struggle to come up with the names of two players on the current roster.

I know all of these things. I'm not completely blinded to the negatives of the Raptors, although when I look back at last year's Raptor report and realize that I said DeMar DeRozan now has a three-point shot, I may have a harder time persuading you. But at the end of the day, this is Canada's team. And I'm writing down the names of everyone who has laughed in my face, so that in 20 years when the Raptors win a championship and the entire country will try to say they are Raptors fans, I will immediately kick you right off the bandwagon. Jerks.

Moving on...

I'm going to make a bold statement: Despite their 1-4 start to the season, this may be my favorite Raptors team of all time.

Yeah, the Carter, McGrady, Oakley days were cool. And realistically, they were definitely a better basketball team. But I was too young to really appreciate it. So I'm hopping on the backs of the 2012-2013 Toronto Raptors and hoping they carry me on over to the first round of the playoffs. Jerks.

I know, the Raptors just came off a couple of bad loses to the Mavs and the Thunder where they just looked lost and outclassed. But unfortunately for my credibility, I planned on writing this post before those games happened. The Raptors had just finished beating a shorthanded Timberwolves team by playing a gritty, yet polished brand of basketball, and I was feeling pretty confident about snagging the 8th playoff spot in the East. But you know what, if you wait for a perfect time to write good things about the Toronto Raptors, history says you're not going to have a very active blog. So I'll keep going.

I'll cut right to the chase: The reason why I have been so excited about this year's team is almost entirely because of Kyle Lowry. This guy is incredible. Believe it or not, there aren't a whole lot of national broadcasts of the Houston Rockets, so I hadn't really been able to see much of Lowry before he came to Toronto other than what I read online and saw in short highlight packages.

After playing just three full games, Lowry has already become a massive fan favorite in Toronto, and really, what's there not to like about him? He's a very hard worker, a great defender, a good scorer, a three point threat, and a textbook court general. To top it all off, the guy's got swagger. He knows he's good, and contrary to the best players on last year's Raptors team (Bargnani, and DeRozan), he genuinely wants to carry this team on his back, and it has shown as he leads the team in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and three-point percentage.

It is because of Lowry that people are finally starting to talk about the Raptors again. He's breathed new life into the franchise, and have sports writers in the United States saying, "Hey, I actually enjoy watching this team play," or, "Wow, Toronto is kind of a dangerous team."

The Raptors will go as far as Lowry takes them. Period. But as good as he is, he's going to need some help. And as likeable and hardworking as this team is, it's very questionable as to whether or not Lowry's supporting cast will be enough to get the team into the playoffs.

There are three players on this team who will need to step up to help push this team over the hump.

First, there's DeMar DeRozan. Before the season opener, DeRozan signed a 4 year, 38-million dollar contract extension. Even as a Raptors fan, I can't defend this contract. It's awful. In his first three seasons in the NBA, DeRozan has proven that he is a good dunker. That's pretty much it. That being said, I love DeRozan. He works very hard, and isn't afraid to go to the hoop even against a defender like LeBron James. Sure, he may not always be successful, but it's encouraging that he has the confidence to try.

If the Raptors are going to succeed, they need DeRozan to become a shooting guard who can actually shoot. He's a below average defender, and if he can't develop a 3-point shot, then his upside is non-existant. Highlights may sell a few tickets, but winning sells more. DeRozan needs to become a complete player, and I truly hope that he achieves that, and proves all of the critics of his contract extension wrong - including myself.

Second, there's Andrea Bargnani. The best thing that has happened to him is that he's no longer the number one scoring option on this team. No team can succeed with Bargnani as their best player, and to be honest, I've never liked him as a player. His shooting has struggled out of the gate, and if he can't shoot, there is literally no use for him. The Raptors needs Bargnani to get better, or they need to get rid of him.

And finally, there's Jonas Valanciunas. I was very much against this draft pick a couple of years ago. But I was wrong. I love Valanciunas. This guy is a real work-horse who crashes the boards hard, but yet has great touch and can actually handle the ball a little bit. Realistically, he's not going to win Rookie of the Year or anything, but in a couple of years I think he's going to be a consistant double-double type of player. His biggest flaw is that he's going to foul out of a lot of games this season. But that's just kids these days for you. I drank the Kool-Aid - I am a big fan of Jonas Valanciunas.

A few rapid fire notes about this year's Toronto Raptors:


  • Jose Calderon is much more likeable as a backup point guard. I think he's going to have a good year.
  • Dwane Casey is the perfect head coach for the Raptors. Hard-nosed, credible, experienced, and defensive minded.
  • Alan Anderson getting a lot of minutes and playing well is kind of good, but it also means DeRozan isn't living up to his contract. 
  • As a Knicks fan, I liked Landry Fields. I was excited that he was coming to the Raptors even though he has a horrendous contract. It makes me very sad that he's been so awful. I hope he turns it around. I still have hope. 

Hoops, there it is

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For the first time in what seems like forever, I am here to address the second "J" in Jesus, Jocks, and the Jukebox because...


The NBA is back!

Despite the lockout, last year's NBA season was one of the most memorable we've had in years. The storylines, the drama, the humour, the playoffs - everything about the season was an absolute treat to watch, and it completely overshadowed the fact that it took until Christmas Day for the season to actually start. 

As hockey appears to be shut down for the foreseeable future, sports fans will have the opportunity to shift their attention over to basketball. Lucky for us, we have quite a doozy on our hands, as there's an awful lot to be excited about in the NBA. 

Allow me to explain with 10 things to be excited about for this upcoming NBA season:


The Toronto Raptors

I will forever be grateful to the Toronto Raptors. It is because the Raptors that Canadians are able to watch basketball, and it was because of the Raptors that I started to watch the NBA in the first place (the days of Vince, T-Mac, and Oak). As much as I love them, it's frustrating when your favorite team sucks every year. 

This year's Raptors team is going to be a joy to watch. I'm going to write my annual Toronto Raptors report next week, but until then all you need to know is they're going to be a hard-working, exciting, disciplined young team who may very well sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the East. And yes, I've been drinking the Jonas Valanciunas Kool-Aid. 

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics Rivalry

We already got a taste of it on Tuesday and I know I was left craving more. This rivalry stems back from LeBron's days in Cleveland as the Celtics (particularly Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) proved successful at being able to completely throw LeBron James off his game. In fact, two of LeBron's biggest playoff collapses in his career happened against this team. This rivalry continued as LeBron moved to Miami, and despite KG and Pierce being at the tail-end of their careers, last year's seven game playoff series proved that the rivalry is still alive and well.

If the pure hatred between the two chief Celtics and LeBron weren't enough, this off-season provided some more fuel for the fire as not only did Ray Allen leave the Celtics, but he left to play with the Heat. To top it all off, the Celtics made some great moves in the off season and have had time to heal from injuries, making the Heat and the Celtics almost a lock for the top two seeds in the East. A Derek Rose return is the only thing standing in the way of another Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Final - and for that, we're all winners.

Practice

I swear...I'm not going to say it. I'm not even going to reference it.

Come on...he's not even in the league anymore. Can I at least make my point first?

...ugh...



As exciting as having basketball almost every day in last year's shortened season, it might also be great to see these teams have some time to practice. Last year was an exciting year, but it was clear that the basketball being played was a lot sloppier than it should be, and it wasn't until the playoffs until teams really put things together and tightened up their execution. One team that will really benefit from practice will be the new look Los Angeles Lakers...which leads me to the next point....

The Los Angeles Lakers Power Struggle

Starting Lineup: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, and Steve Nash. On paper, that may very well be the best starting lineup in the league (I don't think so, but one could argue). But as we saw with the Miami Heat two years ago, having a lineup like this isn't without it's growing pains (Side note: I realize the Heat made it to the Finals their first year together, but their regular season was nowhere near dominant. Remember Cry Gate?)

This may be my inner hatred for the Lakers talking, but how on earth is this team going to co-exist? Does anyone really think Kobe is going to defer to another superstar? Realistically, the success of the Lakers lands completely on Kobe's attitude this season. On paper, this team probably could work, but that's assuming Kobe learns how to trust his teammates. But you know how the old saying goes: You know you're in trouble when you're banking on a selfless Kobe Bryant.

Zach Lowe on Grantland

As much as I love Bill Simmons, I have to admit his writing has become very stale as of late. Note to sports writers: Mailbags should be used sparingly, and should not take the place of actual columns.

Thankfully, Simmons and the crew at Grantland welcomed a new addition to the editorial staff in NBA writer, Zach Lowe. Contrary to Simmons, Lowe is a very unbiased, fact-driven writer with an incredible knowledge of the sport, and according to his recent work - a crazy work ethic. Lowe has been writing columns on Grantland almost daily, and will provide some great consistency to one of the best sports websites out there.

The Minnesota Timberwolves

Exciting and innovative point guard? Ricky Rubio - Check. Dominant superstar? Kevin Love - Check. Young talent with high potential? Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio - Check. Potential feel good comeback story? Brandon Roy - Check. Quirky goofball with a memorable name but is actually pretty good at basketball? Niiiiiiikoooolaaaaaaa Pekovic - Check.

This whole team is so likeable to me, and once they are all healthy I think they can definitely be a team who can do some serious damage in the regular season. They will be fast and excting, and if Brandon Roy can regain some of the magic that made him a top ten player in this league just a few years ago, they may be a lot better than people think. Also, don't sleep on Andrei Kirilenko, who is tall, quick, can shoot, is Russian, had a good preseason and only really had one poor year in the NBA, and has a massive back tattoo. The best part is, they're the closest team to Winnipeg, so it will be a great excuse for a road trip at some point in the year.

The Western Conference

Where the East has Miami and Boston as teams who can do some damage in the playoffs (and Chicago if Rose comes back healthy - but that's a big if), the West have: Oklahoma City, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, San Antonio, Denver, and one more year out of Memphis. This is going to be a tight conference, and we will see a lot of great games between these solid basketball teams.

It will be interesting to see who takes the two available playoff spots, as these six teams all feel like a lock. My prediction is the Utah Jazz get in quite easily after career years from Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward, and the Minnesota Timberwolves sneak in as the eighth seed after a late push from a full healthy lineup.

Great Blog Material

Some things to consider:
  • JaVale McGee is still playing basketball. Also, George Karl might kill him.
  • Steve Nash and Metta World Peace on the same team may provide some serious viral video material.
  • Dwight and Kobe are going to brawl in the parking lot.
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves are the whitest team since the 1980's Celtics.
  • The New York Knicks are the oldest team ever.
  • The best rookie in the league has a unibrow. 


With all of this gold, something's gotta give. My guess is that JaVale leads us off, and everything else falls right into place. The NBA is the home to the greatest characters in all of professional sports.

Off Season Moves

Yes, Ray Allen is on the Heat, James Harden got traded, the Knicks didn't resign Jeremy Lin, Dwight finally got out of Orlando, and Steve Nash is a Laker.

But more importantly, JaVale McGee has been working on his sky-hook, and there may be an all NBA player rap album coming out this year.

Tell em, Stephen Jackson and Kevin Durant




"Keep your game face on...poker."...classic Stack Five...classic.

LeBron James

LeBron James has finally become the undisputed greatest basketball player in the world. There is no possible argument that can suggest otherwise. And now that he has one ring, he will be playing as if a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders.

As we saw in the playoffs, LeBron has developed a post game, which means there really isn't anything on the court he can't do. I am truly rooting for LeBron, as I am always a fan of witnessing history. And if he stays healthy and focused, this may be the start of LeBron's journey in becoming the greatest basketball player of all time.

Basketball blasphemy? Sure feels like it. But the way he played last season has at least opened up the conversation. Only time will tell. All I know is, I can't wait for it to unfold.

Welcome back, basketball. Show us what you got.