Don’t worry, guys — everyone has to do it. The Toronto Raptors are welcoming their rookies to the big show this week the only way NBA veterans know how. As you can see from the photos above, 2011 first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas and rookies Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy have been rocking children’s backpacks with the added bonus of stuffed cartoon characters. Since Valanciunas is technically a sophomore he got to rep someone cool like Bart Simpson. Ross wasn’t so luck and neither was Acy:
Over the course of a year, Jeremy Lin has somehow gone from a player who was destined to play overseas to a highly sought-after restricted free agent. Such is life in the world of professional sports. With the Knicks having control over whether or not Lin leaves for another team, the general consensus is that they will match any offer Lin receives in order to retain him. One of those offers is expected to come from the Raptors.
According to the NY Daily News, Toronto is high on Lin and could make him an offer that would annoy the Knicks. In addition to sparking the team on the court, Lin became a marketing machine for New York when he burst onto the scene earlier this season. There are a number of reasons they cannot let him leave, but a team like the Raptors could make things interesting if they become desperate enough.
Both the Knicks and Raptors are also expected to make a run at Steve Nash, but Nash is at the very end of his career and will only sign with a team who is a definite championship contender. Neither is a likely suitor, but the Knicks probably have an edge on the Raptors. If Toronto misses out on Nash, they could make life even more difficult for New York and force them to really overpay for Lin’s services.
H/T Eye on Basketball
Photo credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Can’t we all just leave Kris Humphries alone? The man recently had his heart broken. He was in love with a beautiful woman and ended up having to go through a horrible divorce. He was completely blindsided by his relationship with Kim Kardashian going south, as she has an immaculate track record. Yet for some reason, the poor guy was recently voted the most hated player in the NBA and has had boos raining down on him wherever the Nets travel. On Friday night, Humphries had to deal with one of the most hilarious and brilliant forms of heckling we’ve seen from NBA fans. Check out what some clever Toronto Raptors fans did to him:
Oversized Kardashian cutouts? Brilliant. By now you probably realize the commentary that came before the picture was completely sarcastic. Humphries knew what he was getting himself into so it’s almost impossible to feel badly for him. That being said, booing him every time he touches the ball is so overplayed. Kudos to these Raptors fans for coming up with a brilliant idea and executing it to perfection.
Successful motivational tactics are hard to come by. Sometimes when you are a coach at the professional level, you have to dig deep to get your guys to play hard. Professional athletes are getting paid millions of dollars whether they win or lose. It can be easy to lose sight of the importance of winning, and that’s why new Raptors coach Dwane Casey came up with the most unique motivational symbol he could think of: a 1,300-pound boulder.
The massive rock currently sits inside the the Raptors dressing room as a reminder that they need to pound the rock all season in order to succeed. In fact, “Pound the Rock” has become Toronto’s new motto.
“I knew we were going to be a work in progress,” Casey said. “Every time we walked on the floor we were going to have to have something to get us to think about — how we have to get better, we’ve got to work to get better. It’s from a story about a stonecutter. Every time a stonecutter hits a rock, it may not break. You may have to hit it 100 times, but on that 101st time you hit it, now you crack the rock.”
The rock is there for the players to touch each time they pass by it, and as the Raptors break from their team huddles they now yell, “Pound the rock!”
“That’s our motivation this year,” forward Jamaal Magloire said. “As you know, rocks are hard to break, and our goal is to break that wall and to persevere. Everybody gravitated to it right away. I just think you’ve just got to remember it and always persevere and break through that wall — or break through that rock — as we say.”
H/T to I Am a GM for the story.
Camouflage uniforms are all the craze these days. Whether you like them or not, people seem to enjoy what they stand for. While we have seen plenty of them here in the United States in the form of college football jerseys, helmets and cleats, and cheerleading outfits, camo uniforms have yet to make their debut in the NBA. The first ones will honor the Canadian military and will be worn by the Toronto Raptors on March 21. The symbol certainly makes it a nice gesture, but they are pretty tough on the eyes. Check out these pictures that ESPN’s Uni Watch shared with us:
We wouldn’t exactly go as far as Joseph Casciaro of Raptor Blog and say the uniforms will make the Raptors a “league laughing stock,” but they certainly aren’t handsome. In any event, it’s the thought that counts and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more teams do this at some point throughout the year. It’s solid public relations and it can bring in extra money — whether it be for the team or to help support the troops.
Chest bump to Ball Don’t Lie for sharing the story with us.
Some people are saying the Raptors new baseline court logo makes them dizzy, but personally I think it’s awesome. Over the weekend we got a look at the new technology, which apparently is already popular in sports venues across Europe. The Raptors have painted their team name across the base line in a way that it looks 3-D from the angle of the camera for the viewers watching at home. Up close it just looks like a weirdly slanted logo, but when you watch the games on TV it looks like its completely standing up. Check out this video that Ball Don’t Lie shared with us that showcases it:
Pretty sweet if you ask me. The 3-D logo is already creating quite a bit of buzz, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see other teams doing it in the near future. As far as the negatives are concerned: the Raptors ranked 19th in the NBA in attendance last season. The last thing they need to do is give their fans another reason to want to watch from home.
Toronto’s season is already over — it probably was when Chris Bosh left in the summer — but that doesn’t mean the players should stop competing. If anything you figure they’d be playing hard to keep their jobs, impress other teams, or just to pull stats JaVale McGee style. That’s not the case for forward Julian Wright who for some reason decided not to enter the Raptors’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Friday night.
Toronto coach Jay Triano “said he asked Wright to go into the game at some point in the third quarter, only to watch Wright remain firmly seated on the visitors’ bench,” according to The Toronto Star. “I just went to the next guy,” said Triano. “I wasn’t going to ask him twice.”
A day later, Wright had come to his senses and apologized to the team. The Fan 590 in Toronto (via Pro Basketball Talk) wrote that Wright apologized and everyone understood his frustration. “The best way to put it is this was not characteristic of me,” said Wright. “That’s why I think this is (now) a thing of the past.”
Yeah, that’s about the last thing a team with 20 wins should be thinking about. If I had to make a guess as to why Wright was pissed, it’s probably because he’s seen mostly DNPs and was probably pissed that he wasn’t asked to enter a game until it was already well over. I can understand the frustration if that’s the case, but take it out in better ways.