Posts Tagged ‘Jose Calderon’

Mmmmm....losing.

Mmmmm….losing.

Got some sporty friends coming over for a special occasion? Want to impress them with your ability to cook up failure, disappointment, and mediocrity? We’ve got you covered.

Chef Colangelo’s tried-and-true recipe should do nicely. First, the ingredients:

(Serves a city of 2.6 million)

  • 2 cups of marketing
  • 8 lbs of optimism
  • 1 tsp or less of talent (optional)
  • 1 point guard controversy
  • 1-2 talented but over-hyped rookies
  • 3 cups of NBA journeymen
  • 1 rock (for pounding)
  • 2 apologies for poor officiating
  • 1 secret ingredient (be sure to overpay grossly for this one)
  • A pinch of Primo pasta sauce
Directions:
1. Before cooking, tell your guests how awesome the meal will be.

In the pre-season, word was that the Raptors would be back in the playoffs in April. Last year’s defensive boost, thanks to Coach Casey, was sure to continue. We were a lock for the 8th spot, at least. And with Valanciunas the Lethal Lithuanian on board, this was bound to be a great year.

2. Start slowly. Very slowly.

One of the worst starts in franchise history had people screaming for a total rebuild before Christmas. Word spread around the league that this was a surprisingly bad team. One of my favourite quotes from the early season came from Ben Golliver at The Blazer’s Edge, writing after the 4-18 Raptors had visited (and lost by 18 points to) his hometown Blazers:

The horror stories bubble quickly around the NBA and the word has been out about the Raptors for a few weeks now. It’s never the same until you see it up close though. This wasn’t 2012 Charlotte Bobcats bad or 2011 Washington Wizards bad, but it was worse in a way, because the Raptors seem like genuinely nice and good people who are trying to win, or at least not actively trying to lose.

It’s a beautiful quote because it’s so completely Toronto. We’re the lovable losers. The dinner guests you invite over because you feel bad for them, and they bring you an awful bottle of homemade wine that tastes like tepid grape juice and gives you the runs.

3. After simmering for a while, change ingredients.

In one of the season’s most bittersweet moments, the beloved Jose Calderon was moved, along with Ed Davis, in a three-team deal that brought Rudy Gay to Toronto. Gay appeared to have an immediate impact, pouring in the points and hitting big shots. For the first time since Mookie Wilson, Torontonians had a sports star whose name could be chanted and sound like booing:

But the honeymoon didn’t last long, as folks started to realize that for every big shot he hit, Rudy was hoisting up about a thousand others that would clang off iron. His shooting percentage was shockingly low, and before you could say “buyer’s remorse”, fans were wishing we could go back to the days of a reliable, pass-first, shoddy-defending point guard.

4. Serve sheepishly, but with assurances that dessert will be amazing.

When the chefs at MLSE realized that they’d served Toronto yet another helping of lousy basketball, they were ready with 17 excuses reasons why fans should be ready for some serious contending next year. Seriously. For serious this time. They even made a website and video about it:

But in all honesty, we know what next year will be like. If the chef is the same, the meal will still have the same odd smell, the same mealy texture, the same bitter aftertaste.

The Raptors finish 2012-2013 moving into un-charted territory, even for a club with their sad history: for the first time, the team has seen five straight seasons with no playoffs. The drought has been on for so long that we’ve started to forget what water even looks like.

But don’t worry. Chef Colangelo’s cooking up something great for next year.

It was a great day for welcoming back fan favourite Jose Calderon. After a nice ovation when his name was announced in the starting lineups, and a warm fuzzy video tribute on the big screen, Calderon quickly went to work inflicting a bit of post-partum depression on the Toronto crowd. Here are some awesome things that happened during the game:

  1. Someone in the a/v department must have sneezed on the controls, because the song and video that accompanied the Raptors starting lineups intro went all Windows Vista on us.
  2. ACC announcer Herbie Kuhn accidentally announced Calderon as getting an assist on a bucket by Alan Anderson.
  3. At halftime, Jose accidentally started walking towards the Raptors’ dressing room. (See video above.)
  4. A classic Raptor fourth quarter saw the Pistons outscore Toronto 33-19, finishing with 98 points, just two shy of the fans’ coveted pizza.
  5. With the loss, the Raptors are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Nobody does April Fool’s day like the Toronto Raptors.

De nada, Jose.

Needless to say, Amir Johnson left the game after this incident against Golden State on January 28th. He was later seen in the locker room, compulsively washing his face with industrial-strength soap. (Photo: thestar.com)

Record:  18-32  (4-6 over the past 10)

Low point: Saying goodbye to Jose Calderon.

High point: Saying hello to Rudy Gay, as he comes off the bench with 20 points in a 98-73 rout of the Clippers.

Stuff I’ve Noticed:

  • Having John Lucas as your backup point guard is like having a cardboard box as your backup airbag.
  • I’m not sure if Mickael Pietrus used to play for the Raptors, or if I dreamed it.
  • There should be some kind of “handicap” when teams like the Raptors play against top-level teams. Like maybe we get to pick one of their players, and that player has to wear oven mitts for the whole game.
Memorable Quote:
“I’m tired of this. I’m tired of losing games because of missed calls at the end of the game. I know the league’s going to come down on me but I don’t care.”
-Dwayne Casey’s $25 000 comment after losing to the Hawks on January 30th.

Jose is gone, thanks to a deal involving (appropriately) three teams. (Photo: detroitbadboys.com)

Losing Ed Davis is frustrating.

Losing Jose Calderon hurts.

Ed Davis is a good young player with lots of potential, and one of the precious few positives of this season has been watching that talent develop. How much better will he get? Who knows.

Jose Calderon, on the other hand, was the 1997 Volvo of the Toronto Raptors. Not flashy, not fast, not ugly but not elegant. Consistent, reliable, and quietly efficient. Aging gracefully.

These are the things I liked, and will miss, about Jose Calderon:

  1. He rarely turned the ball over.
  2. When doofus teammates would dribble themselves into a corner with 4 on the shot clock, they could always throw the ball back to Calderon for a smooth and usually accurate jumper.
  3. When called for a foul, he would plead with the ref like an Italian man whose pizza has just been stolen.
  4. He didn’t complain about having to share starting PG duties with a rotating cast of clowns and ball hogs.
  5. His name is fun to say.
  6. Mimicking his three-point signal after another big trey was the only time I could flash a gang sign in public without getting beat up.
  7. He had a good sense of style; a happy medium between the ridiculously precision-plucked eyebrows of Carlos Delfino, and the just-woke-up-caveman look of Aaron Gray.
  8. A few seasons ago, he shot an NBA-record 98% from the free-throw line. I can barely tie my shoes with a 98% success rate.
  9. No tattoos.
  10. No ego.
  11. While everybody else will engage in angry debate over whether this was the right trade or not, Jose will quietly report to his new team and continue to play solid, unselfish, fundamental basketball.

Gracias, Jose!

(cartoonstock.com)

(cartoonstock.com)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the midway point of the season. A variety of publications have released their “mid-term report cards” on the Raptors, which kind of made me feel bad for the Raps. A lot of them weren’t exactly the type of reports you’d want to put up on the fridge.

I know, I know, I spend a lot of time making fun of the Raptors. But like that parent who just can’t see how ugly and stupid their kid is, I’m an eternal optimist with this team. They’re all…special…in their own way.

So below is a summary of the grades dished out by the teachers at TSN and The National Post, with a special bonus from me. Because everyone’s good at something. Right?

Player TSN says… The National Post says… Yeah, but…
Quincy Acy C-
“Has to cut down on blown defensive assignments.”
C
“Has been a willing learner.”
Beard-growing: A+
Alan Anderson B+
“Game-altering performances.”
B
“It is difficult to get past Anderson’s accuracy from the field.”
Alliteration: A+
Andrea Bargnani D-
“His laconic play has finally soured the front office on him.”
F
“Ineffective offensively and regressed defensively.”
Looking slick in a suit: A+
Jose Calderon A
“His leadership has been invaluable.”
B-
“Struggled badly in his 15 games as Kyle Lowry’s backup.”
Ability to grow 5-o’clock shadow before noon: A+
Ed Davis A
“A revelation.”
B+
“A revelation.”
Being a revelation: A+
DeMar DeRozan C+
“His play has fallen off dramatically.”
C+
“His defense remains a mystifying negative.”
Having capital letters in his name: A+
Landry Fields C
“His jumpshot has remained horrendous.”
C-
“Still digging out of an early-season hole.”
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Drake: A+
Aaron Gray C-
“Rebounding, his one great strength, has been missing all year.”
D+
“Has not been of much use.”
Looking confused: A+
Amir Johnson A-
“Still struggles to guard his position one-on-one.”
B+
“Johnson’s ceiling is limited, but he has maximized his ability.”
Hairstyle choices: A+
Linas Kleiza D
“Cannot replicate (or even approximate) his international effectiveness.”
D
“Has been totally ineffective.”
Being one of two Lithuanians I can name: A+
Kyle Lowry C
“Biggest disappointment of the season so far.”
C
“Lowry’s play has varied wildly.”
Making me nervous in close games: A+
John Lucas III C-
“Doesn’t offer enough elsewhere to offset his lack of scoring.”
C-
“Started off the year on a tremendous cold streak.”
Being more famous than John Lucas I or II: A+
Mickael Pietrus D+
“Doesn’t have it in him to contribute to an NBA team like he used to.”
C-
“Terrible offensively.”
Keeping knee doctors in business: A+
Terrence Ross C+
“He needs to shoot much better and learn to pass more often.”
C
“Flashes of brilliance to go along with complete no-shows.”
Potential to be the third Raptor to lose a dunk contest: A+
Jonas Valanciunas C+
“Fouls far too much.”
C
“Perhaps the Raptors’ worst defensive player.”
Looking absolutely nothing like his bobble-head doll: A+
Dwayne Casey N/A C
“Has relied a little too much on his veterans.”
Having gone from coaching a championship team to the Raptors without killing himself: A+

…sorry to steal a line from British philosophers Soul II Soul, but this game certainly had the feeling of a reality check to it. Especially the third quarter (which seems to be the Raps’ specialty), when Toronto was outscored 28-10.

In case you missed it, here are the low highlights:

  1. Sweet pass at 0:14. Does Jose get an assist on that?
  2. Check out Landry Fields’ defence at 1:01. He’s got the right idea about how to defend Cousins; slowly back away and let a teammate take the foul.
  3. At 1:26, I can’t help but feel sorry for poor old Aaron “Fifty Shades” Gray. As he tries to stop Cousins, he looks a bit like a kid on the playground who’s hat has been taken by the bullies, and they’re playing “monkey in the middle” with it.

Oh well. The good times can only roll for so long. Things certainly won’t get easier with OKC in town this weekend.

You’re welcome, DeMarcus.

Over the holidays, the ghost of failures past visited Demar DeRozan to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. (Photo: bleacherreport.com)

Record:  10-20 (6-4 over the past 10)

Low point: December 10th vs. Portland: 5th straight loss. 11th straight road loss.  Bargnani and Lowry get hurt. Amir Johnson gets ejected. Portland sets an NBA record by going 0-for-20 from three-point land, but still wins by 18. 

High point: Bargnani and Lowry getting injured, allowing the rest of the guys to play like a team and win 5 games in a row for the first time since 1844.

Stuff I’ve Noticed:

  • Valanciunas has got hustle. He’s more energetic in warm-ups than most players are in the actual game.
  • Calderon’s bald spot is now visible from the upper bowl.
  • Once he’s no longer needed as Jonas’ translator, Linas Kleiza has got to go.
Memorable Quote:
“There’s been some slippage, clearly.”
-GM Bryan Colangelo exhibits interesting word choice while analyzing Toronto’s defensive focus.