Head for the Hills
It’s that time again.
by Aaron Vaccariello
Chris Bosh’s twitter is blowing up. Bryan Colangelo is drinking triple-shot espressos. Jay Triano is yelling at himself in the mirror. And Raptor’s fans are hitting the discussion boards with no regard for human life (shout-out to KH). For an organization at it’s breaking point, LeBron James added insult to injury last week after ousting Chi-town and explaining how he preferred to play them as a first round opponent opposed to the Toronto Raptors because the Bulls presented more of a challenge.
I try to be as unbiased as possible but, as a two-time MVP, you gotta bring a little more class than that. But the bottom-line remains that the Raptors look about as promising as Greg Oden at this point, and it doesn’t take a reigning league MVP to make news of it.
(@chrisbosh) Should I stay or should I go?
Chris Bosh’s twitter post is a riddle, and it’s certainly had people talking. Most people claim to know the answer. Some people form belief out of what little faith they have left. Everyone should understand that this riddle is only momentary, and will be solved when the most anticipated off-season of the millennium gets underway. The fate of the Raptors was sealed weeks ago, and now things will unfold as they should. But in all honesty, he should catch the first flight out TO if management aren’t able to pair him up with either another superstar, or provide him with effective supporting cast.
For what used to be a promising club for a city that sees all their pro teams underachieve on a yearly basis, the Toronto fan-base is practically desensitized to sub-par results. The ‘09-10 season was no different for the dinosaurs. It marked a seismic collapse of a potential 4th/5th seed spot in the East, to a crippled and uninspiring ball-club near season’s end. Gears were moving, then rusted up, then eroded as the Raps squandered away a Playoff berth due to mysterious “outside influences” according to GM Bryan Colangelo.
Outside influence can be a professional way of justifying a season that simply went to shit. I have no answers here. I can go on explaining the many plunders that occurred during the past season and speculate about underlying or obvious issues that weren’t addressed, but the real question is, what will become of these Raptors from here on out? A difficult question for some, and easy enough for others. I’m sitting here wondering if this will play out in a way similar to the monumental Vince Carter era between 2003 and 2006 where tumbleweeds inhabited the Air Canada Centre. Since their 47-win campaign in ‘06-07 the Raptors have put together an unspectacular 114-132 record. Not overly bad and definitely worth an applause, but certainly unsatisfactory for the front office and it’s fans.
Evidently, the most blame is directed at three individuals within the club. Coach Jay Triano, President & GM Bryan Colangelo, and the $53-million-dollar-man Hedo Turkoglu. These three are unanimously on the podium of a witch trial, and everyone is looking to burn at least one of them.
Triano’s attitude and coaching decisions have been questioned since he was appointed head coach in the spring of 2009. People talk a lot about respect throughout the coaching community and unfortunately, Triano will have to find some way to help this team win games next season to earn that respect. Unlike Triano, Colangelo had plenty of respect when he arrived in TO. He welded together the strongest Raps roster in years that saw them capture the Atlantic Division title after his first year at the helm in ‘06-07. Since then, he’s been criticized for his pro-euro agenda and marshmallow soft structuring of a team that has no bark or bite to rumble with other contenders around the League. It’s no secret that he has an offensive minded approach, but the heaviest problem the Raps have had for years (and I mean years) has been on the defensive end of the court. Perhaps one of the most resounding decisions made by Colangelo was the inkage of Hedo Turkoglu. Widely perceived as an enigma of the Raptor squad (by myself and countless others), Turk proved his value of worth is about as much as the pen used to sign his contract with. The topic has been beaten down and is exasperated, but simply put, Hedo did not benefit the team in any way during the ‘09-10 season.
In what was a puzzling season overall, Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems represented the attitude that all players should compete with, just plain effort. It earned them minutes while being included in the regular rotation. These guys deserve recognition because they set an example further than any Raptor consistently displayed. They’re the type of players contenders pursue and develop for the future. I’m not a genius. I’m not Bryan Colangelo – but I am certain these guys are keepers.
And as far as the future goes – where now? Is it reasonable to expect the Playoffs next year, or will the broken record continue to expel static around Toronto? Will Chris Bosh leave, and if so, what will the Raps get in return? Hopefully not a pair of Williams, if you know what I mean.
Coaches beware; this is what happens when you leave an all-star off an All-NBA team who averages 24 and 10.