For Vince Carter It Was About Closure. For The Fans It Was About Forgiving

A Cold and Snowy night in Downtown Toronto as players and fans alike entered the halls of the ACC. The Fans hoping for another home win against a top team and players hoping to deliver a win for the fans. One player though, by the name of Vince Carter was hoping for something a little more. Closure, a chance to close the books on a rocky and overdone relationship with the fans of Toronto. He left on sour terms with both the team and the fan-base, voicing his want to leave town when things got bad and head for New Jersey to play for the Nets. At the time it was harsh, seeing the franchise of the team and the guy who made basketball in Toronto relevant left the team for scraps for reasons that struck us hard, but that was then and this is now and media and fans alike still were unsure about how he would be treated. Amazingly this debate was still going on, whether to boo because of what he did a decade ago, or to cheer for what he did before he left, which was put a new and unnoticed team on the map of not only Canada but the US as well.


But as the first quarter flowed through the ACC so did the tears of half man half amazing.  an ACC tribute video ran in honor of the Raptors 20th Anniversary celebrating their most storied players, and their the ACC showed the most important and influential player in their less than stellar history. The man who captivated Canadian basketball fans everywhere with his high-flying dunks and mega star rise up the NBA lists of stars, Vincent Carter was shown and as an emotional Carter was giving his fans appreciation the fans were not booing, they were not showing dumb signs, no they were cheering, giving a standing ovation as to say thank you and we forgive you. With the tears running down Carter’s eyes, memories were brought back and Carter turned from  the biggest heel in the building to the biggest face and the biggest face this franchise has ever had.


I was always a fan of Vince even when he did leave town. The Raptors were headed down a wrong path and the best thing that could have been done was to trade Carter for picks or young players. Now of course, having Rob Babcock as a GM was not a fun ride as he butchered the trade and the Raptors got absolutely nothing back for their former superstar player.  Carter flourished in New Jersey helping a losing team all the way into the playoffs and brought the Kidd-Carter-Jefferson alleyoop trio to New Jersey. It was a rejuvenated Carter one that Raptor fans know about all too well. The Nets made it to the Playoffs before falling to the eventual 2006 champion Miami Heat in 5 games, while the Raptors fell to the bottom of the barrel.

It was a tough time for Raptor fans, they just saw their best player basically walk out on them white getting nothing in return make the playoffs and almost come close to an East Finale match-up. They were beyond frustrated at both Carter and management, if anyone saw anyone in a Carter jersey that person would be a Toronto villain. It would be hard to show yourself in public wearing a carter jersey, it was sort of like an unwritten rule to do so. People would not try and tackle you and take it off but they would give you looks and taunt you, and fairly so because how carter left was like a  knife right in the Raptors fans hearts that whenever they saw a Carter highlight would twist and twist hurting more and more.

in 2007 after an emerging star in Chris Bosh and co would rise out of the ashes and eventually get a Atlantic Divison crown in 2007. Which meant a match up with the Nets in the first round, it was a series that the Nets eventually took 4-2 but it had much more meaning than that. It was the first playoff game for Vince in the ACC as an opponent, the heel has made his way into the ring ready to face the boos and beat down on the face like only a heel can. He would average 22 points on 69 percent shooting and torch the Raptors. It was hard to watch, like seeing your ex girlfriend get married to a guy and you are sitting front row, just complete emptiness. and the realization of yet another heart=breaking and disappointing playoff series.


He would play for the Nets for another year before being dealt to Orlando where he would start his new role as an off the bench role guy that could still put up points, but he never got the same jump as he did in Toronto and New Jersey. It was hard to watch sometimes, this uber talented player struggling to find his game with a talented Orlando team.  He would then after join the Suns for a bit before making a home in Dallas. He grew his role of being an off the bench guy and became a reliable second option for the Mavs both in the playoffs and regular season.

After his time with the Mavs Carter was a free agent. Talks were that he should rejoin the Raptors as a last hurrah and that it would only make it right for him to retire a Raptor. Despite all the talk and all the rumors, Carter would sign with Memphis. Who knows if this will be the last stop for Vince, while he may not be his same self talent wise, he can still help a good team with good play but the age soon plays a role for a professional athlete. Guys like Kobe and Duncan continue to play but their bodies have taken a tremendous toll, and same has happened to Carter who is climbing into his late 30s.  If this is truly the end of Air Canada than I sure hope those same cheers and claps Carter got this past Wednesday happen when the Raptors honor and they will honor, their greatest Basketball player ever they including all the fans both in attendance and watching on tv remember the foundation he set for the team and for basketball in Canada. Time for Air Canada to land its finale flight.

It Is Time To Say Goodbye To The Best Canadian NBA Player Ever And A Personal Hero

It was late Thursday evening where we heard the inevitable but still heart crushing news that the 2014-15 season for Steve Nash would come to an end due to a back problem that really has been with him his whole career. Only this time, Father time decided to take the injury knife and stick it right to Nash’s back and Canada Basketball fans all over the world hearts.  It was pretty understanding that after those Lakers years that showed the true colors of age in a game where the younger the better, that Nash’s best years were clearly behind him and that we would see the end of a marvelous and influential career that saw him capture two league MVPs back to back come to and end on his terms, but unfortunately this is the way it had to go, with Nash unfortunately choosing to sit out the 2014-15 year and baring any trip to a Lazarus Pit or fountain of youth, ending his 18 year career spanning over a thousand games most famously for running that seven seconds or less offense with the Phoenix Suns back in the 2005 days.

And what a time that was for basketball fans and for me especially. I was never a big a NBA fan back in 2005  as I am now, I would watch some games and mostly Raptor games that were on TV, but never would try to seek out another one. That all changed when I first saw Steve Nash play he was with the Suns against the Raptors and the Suns would just run the court against Toronto scoring at will. But I did not care about what the score was or how many jumpers then Vince Carter was missing jumpers and not caring. I cared about that BC guy with wavy brown hair throwing passes behind his back and his head to open teammates. I thought that was the coolest thing and I said to myself “hey, I may wanna try this basketball thing” so I did, and ever since Steve Nash was dishing out 30 assists a game, I was out on the schoolyard park trying my hardest to imitate him, or at least, play the game to my ability. But as long as Nash was playing basketball and winning the west I thought basketball was his game, I thought of him being the best player in the game only because I never really knew the other great players of that year, and I didn’t care cuz I was watching Steve Nash and I was happy to what I was watching and what I was watching was the greatest shooter and playmaker I ever saw.

And stats wise, he really was one of  the best,Averaging 50/40/90 in his second Suns stint for 8 seasons in unmatched and an accomplishment very few NBA Players can say they accomplished. in 2005 he finished 16th in FG% usually dominated by big men, 6th in 3FG% and would lead the NBA in assists for 3 straight years. His offense first Suns offense changed both how we watch the NBA and how the game is played today. It was new and it was fun, propelling the careers of Amare Stoudamire, Joe Johnson, and Shawn Marion into the stars they are today.

the 2005-06 Suns Nash Shotcart via crazy

the 2005-06 Suns Nash Shotcart via crazy

Although he unfortunately never won an NBA Title, Steve Nash may have done something bigger and far more important, and that is bringing in a launching pad for Canada Basketball. A foundation that was desperately seeking a Leader, someone who would not only bring in notice to the game that Canadians invented, but to give players the chance to make a name for themselves in the NBA. There would be no Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennet, or  Nik Stauskas, or Myck Kabongo, or even Sam Buhlar without Nash representing his country on the court and off. He is the most important Canadian Sports figure in the past 10 years or so. He got the USA to stop ignoring the North as just a place for hockey and gave it serious thought. He got kids like me reason to go outside and shoot on that hoop that was once just standing there as a prop. When I got my Steve Nash Suns Jersey when I was 12 I was the happiest kid on the block, I would wear it everywhere from the gym to the schools I would always treasure it like it was the best thing i had. That was the way Nash impacted my life as a basketball fan, he was my Gretzky for basketball. a Canadian trying to grow the game and dominating while doing it.

But it has come to this, with his injuries taking over what he loved most. He has not officially retired yet but unless some miracle happens Steve Nash is done playing professional Basketball. It is a sad sentence to type, he is still doing work for Canada Basketball acting as its serving General Manager and really its off court leader to young and up and coming Canadian talent, but hearing and seeing a Canadian legend and leader untie and hang up the Sneakers are tough at least in the way that it happened. This is like watching your favorite superhero hang up his cape and call it quits, and while Nash may not have a cape or dawn a mask he certainly had super powers. The power to be so dominate in his sport and give so much to the sport in Canada, which when you think about it, is the greatest assist he ever dished out.

Lebron Made The Right Decision To Come Home And Give This Starving City Hope.

So it happened after four years of joining forces with Chris Bosh and friend Dwayne Wade in Miami to build a basketball mega team that saw them take two championships in 2012 and 2013. Lebron made it clear in an amazing SI Article that had a personal letter in which why Lebron chose home instead of luxurious Miami Beach.  He felt like he had an unfinished job to do for a city that just wants to win again, to be able to say confidently that they are no longer an afterthought and for the first time in a long time can compete for a first NBA Title. Something that Lebron feels he and the Cavs need to win not for him but for the city he was born and raised in. Before Bron left for the Beaches, The Cavs were a dominant regular season force who, unfortunately, could not get over the extremely high play-off expectations. Falling time and time again with the closest Lebron came to a title against the Spurs. Ironically the same team that defeated Lebron and the Heat just this past season.


What was once anger and feeling of betrayal in the city of Cleveland towards Lebron when he left in 2010 turned into relief, happiness and hope. Which is something that city with all its culture of losing and bad luck saw their city hero and captain decided it was time to finish business and owe the fans and the city back. Lebron still would have left to join Wade and Bosh in Miami-as pointed out in the SI article- but just in a different way, no parties no stupid multiple titles claim and no stupid tv show. He grew up and now knows the kind of backlash that has on a city. He has had his fun in college and now has returned home for work. Lebron admitted this might take some time to take a basement team into title contention and potential winners but he has young talent in Wiggins,Thompson and Anthony Bennet and rising point guard Kyrie Irving there is more promise for this team than there was with the old and dwindling Miami Heat.  Maybe that was it, maybe Lebron knew that the surrounding roster minus Wade and Bosh were old and had father time creeping up on them. Or, maybe it was just the right thing to do.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

I remember the first ever basketball jersey I ever got. An Allen Iverson home Sixers jersey that I would wear constantly, that got me into Allen Iverson and he was amazing, but as soon as I got that Lebron Cavs 23 jersey that got me into basketball. Lebron was just different an offensive talent with the athleticism  unlike maybe I ever seen. He was playing for the Cavaliers a small town small team who was looking for a new direction, to find that guy that can lead them and they did. But when Lebron left the Cavs I understood why but it still kind of hurt inside. I always appreciated the Cavs and yes some might say “because lebron right” yes excatly, because one of the youngest and greatest players to play the game got me to appreciate that team from guys like Lebron to Ricky Davis, Darius Miles, Big Z and hell even Eric Snow. For a hard team to watch before and a little after lebron came over it was fun and now he returns with a fun and more talented group than when he first arrived and when he first left the Cavs back in 2010.


But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.


This is probably my favourite quote from the SI interview. For a sport that could be very selfish Lebron acted very unselfishly there. Lebron easily could have said no to the Cavs and headed back to Miami to re-unite the big four , but Lebron is not a kid any more he knows how many lives in Cleveland he impacts and inspires from kids to adults he is such an important figure for that city and he wants to reward them and the franchise with a title. We don’t know how many or when that will happen, but Lebron has a mission and after what happened yesterday, step one of a long and hopefully promising mission began. This is going to sound weird coming from a guy who frankly never has been to Ohio or even Cleveland for that matter but welcome home Lebron, It’s been a while.



Jurassic Park: After years of mockery the NBA is finally realizing the Raptors and the city of Toronto is a basketball town

Credit to Getty Images

Credit to Getty Images

It was a warm saturday afternoon as thousands gathered the Maple Leafs Square in downtown Toronto for something that has no happened since 2008. A Raptors playoff game, the team was getting set to start their first round series against the Brooklyn Nets. The team was never really suppose to be in this kind of position let alone the third seed in the lowly Eastern conference, it was a rebuild year in Masai Ujiri’s first full year as Raptors General Manager a team that even with supposed superstar Rudy Gay being brought in to attempt to carry the offence, was never meant to make any noise. A 6-12 start saw the team face some questions about the future and impatience fans wanted answers. So, like any other responsible GM, they made a significant move to change the culture of the team. Rudy Gay was shipped to Sac town for a bundle of players that have Individually put their own effort in and have contributed to this turnaround. Patrick Patterson, Grevias Vasquez, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons all came back from Sacramento and join the Raptors. Ever since that big trade the Raptors owned the 4th best record since that deal and secured the 3rd spot in the East behind big teams Miami and Indiana.

The culture changed around the team, egos were put behind the team and players accepted their roles. Their assists number went up and there was less give Rudy the ball and move out-of-the-way and more Pick and Rolls that would either let Lowry or Demar drive, set up Jonas Valanciunas for a post up or alley oop, or swing it out to the wing for a Terrence Ross three. This team found a winning formula and the fans appreciated it. The home games were louder in the ACC as games were being soled out and the ACC was becoming one of the more toughest places to play in the league, even Steve Kerr on TNT took some time on Twitter to acknowledge the team’s fan base.

Raptor games were fun again, every game was a tune in-game whether they were coming back from 20 down to win or in a constant nail-bitter, it felt good to watch because it had that feeling that Raptors and post-season wasn’t a thing only fans playing NBA 2k would say. It made sense and what is great about all this is, the Raptors, despite all of this season success are still in a mini rebuild. Demar is growing as a superstar in this league, JV is getting better and better – and has really matured in these playoffs- with more and more playing time, Terrence Ross needs some improvement on his offence, but his perimeter D and outside shooting is promising stuff and finally Kyle Lowry who really was and is the driving force of this team. He is the hart and soul of this team and no question the MVP of the Raptors. Masai has built a winning future with years of talent still to be shown, something former GMs of the Raptors cannot say they have done or at least as well as Masai. It is fun seeing this team win games, but I am even more excited about what will happen in years to come, how much talent can this team show and how high can they reach?

It is refreshing to know that finally, after being known for a transition team for star players. Guys like Demar are standing tall with the organization. Demar has been through all the lows of being a player for a struggle of a team with no identity like the Raptors. He grew up playing with Bosh and saw him leave which he took to twitter to tell the city he got us. With this team you can never really go and point out one player who is responsible for this turnaround, I did say Lowry was the driving force of this team, but that is mostly because he is a team guy and assists to make guys like Demar,JV,Ross’s life easier and make the defence adjust. But if you asked me what player had impressed me the most and has shown growth as a player and a person I would say Demar Derozan. His game has improved so much from just a guy who is better to drive and have a played set for him to a player who can now take the ball one on one and hit the 20 or 15 footer without caution.

This team even got high-end rapper and home-grown Drake to be an official ambassador to the team making theme popular around the League and not just a team you overlook because they live in a different country or are not as high-end as the Knicks or Lakers. This team is good and have grinded from the bottom of the league to people thinking this team has something, and they do. An identity, something this team and franchise was lacking, something to make them matter and be noticed. Noticed so much that for the first time in a long time, the Raptors got national TV time as NBA TV covered a game between them and the Atlanta Hawks. It is still a long away from being a top-tier team, but Masai has seemed to have all the pieces to a puzzle that is almost complete. And if his “fuck Brooklyn” gaffe showed anything is that he cares, he cares about this city, this game and this city. This is only the begging of a long-term blueprint, and for the first time since I was a kid this team has hope.

With Olympics On the Horizon, Team USA Has Best Chance to Win Hockey Gold

Photo Credit to ESPN.


The USA were one goal away from stealing the Gold Medal in 2010. One Shot on net could have sent the USA into a wild frenzy and Canada into a stage of depression and wondering. Instead, Sidney Crosby dawned the red and white flag and tied it around his neck to become the Canadian hero who scored the “golden goal past than USA starting goalie Ryan Miller. To Team Canada it had to happen and it needed to happen, the unbelievable burden and failure that would haunt the Canadian Team would have been Unforgettable had Sidney Crosby not utter the words “Iggy”. The utter defeat would have been more historic than when they won the gold.  For the USA, the heart and will to tie the game up after Zach Parise got one by Luongo was all but a distant thought as defeat and the question of “how did that go in” would haunt the USA dressing room as they settled for a disappointing silver medal and return to their regular  scheduled teams and season.

Now with a new Olympic year arriving the table is reset and the USA might look the best they have in a while. They have a talented forward core that goes 4 lines deep, the defence core is good although some holes, but having possibly the best goalie tandem in the tournament in Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard – and in my opinion Craig Anderson- leave little worry about the States D line as those goalies are some if not the best in hockey now.

What might push the States to win gold will have to be their goaltending. They have arguably more depth in net than any Country, and unlike Canada, do not face any questions about who is between the pipes. Jonathan Quick has been a number one reliability for the Kings ever since he got the starting job. He posted a 1.95 GAA in 2011-2012 and despite the numbers shown this year he has shown he can steal and win games for the Kings. Jimmy Howard this year while only playing 7 games this season  due to injury, has put up pretty decent numbers. He has posted a SV% of 2.26 and has helped the Wings stay relevant for a couple of years.  But to me, the starting Goaltender for the States should be Senators goalie Craig Anderson. Ever since joining Ottawa he has posted GAAs of 2.05, and 1.69 while getting SV percentages of .924, .939 and his career best .941 back in 2012-2013.    If the States defence can be reliable and consistent it will be a really tough task to try to get goals past this team.

The States forward core is one to admire. The ones I have making the top line are Patrick Kane-Kesler-Kessel. Might be hard to put both Kane and Kessel on the first line as they both are Right Wingers, but I think either Kane or Kessel can adjust. The Second line I have JVR-David Backes-Dustin Brown. I was thinking of having Parise on the second line, but JVR so far this year has been exceptional for the Leafs. The Third line for the States I have parise-Paul Statsny-Bobby Ryan, and the fourth line to be Pacioretty-Pavelski-Callahan? whether I am accurate or not, the USA roster looks stacked both with youth and stardom, and experience and grit  this forward core could be one of the more dangerous scoring threats to the Olympics.

Team Canada for many still look like the best chance to win gold, but the States are no team to not take seriously. They have arguably the better goaltending and their forward core, while they may not have the same stardom as Canada, they can hold their own and put up their own points. The States showed last year they can go toe to toe with Canada and give them a scare.

So why do I think the States will win gold? Because I think hockey in the USA, and the NHL especially have reached such a big and important point. Guys like Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane have been on fire as of late, and their goaltending has been as good as any with Craig Anderson and Jonathan Quick having fantastic seasons. Having a questionable defense is not a big risk when the forwards are producing and the goaltending is reliable. I am cheering for Canada, but if the States do come out on top don’t be shocked or surprised. This team is good whatever lineup they throw out. They are a well coached team who is nothing but a gold medal finish at the Olympics.

If Fighting in Hockey is Risking players lives Than why let it continue?

Credit to USA Today Sports

For as long as I can remember fighting has been a staple in hockey. Yes the goals and the face pace skating is what makes it, but having players drop gloves and square off whether it be out of the blue, or after a crushing hit to on players teammates gets fans riled up for some reason. Certain fans love seeing two guys punch each other in the face with no helmets on, while severely increasing the risk of losing your NHL career or even your life. While other people, and in my opinion the smart people, look at the way it should be looked at. It does not impact a game whatsoever and the impact it usually has is negative, teams lose the chance to score or lose an offensive breakout because players thought it would be smarter to drop the gloves than get ahead in the game. Fights though seem to happen before or right after the puck drop, which infuriates me  because not only are you ruining a chance to have a good start to the game. but you are sending a bad message about yourself while putting a bad stamp on the team. No momentum ( if you believe in that stuff) is gain from fighting and it ruins a good hockey game for everyone. But the most concern and problem I have with fists in hockey is what impact it has on the players.

We have lost too many great people over the years because of dropped gloves and helmets. From Wade Belak to that tragic story of Derek Boogard to the unfortunate ending of Rick Rypien Those men who had the wrongful task of “manning up” and having to fight every game were taken away from us way too early than it should have been. Now I don’t know myself if their deaths had hockey reasons behind them, but I am sure that with depression and drugs being involved hockey and the idea of constantly fighting players with loved ones watching had to play a big part.

The incident involving George Parros last night in the season opener between the Leafs and Habs seemed to overshadow what was a really entertaining game between the two, storied franchises. It wasn’t because of a nasty hit or anything, it was because Colton Orr decided it would be smart while up 3-2 to challenge George Parros to a fight. It happened right after a Leafs scoring chance as a mosh pit created and Orr fought Parros. Parros well aware of what the new NHL rules imply about keeping helmets on during fights so he did, what was unfortunate is that he slipped on the ice both his hands caught in his gear and his face collides with the ice. This was a scary scene and have it happen on the first game of the new full season where 82 games is restored is very tough to swallow. No punching was not directly the cause of Parros injury, yet having the legal cause in the league to fight  Orr and Parros seemed it was a good idea to have a tilt in the third period. I am not blaming Parros for what happened I am just telling you the events that occurred and what was the reasoning behind it.

The question that I think is left is when is the NHL going to realize they can’t have their players risk their careers throwing punches. The NHL has had a dark cloud over what really is a beautiful sport because of unneeded and unwanted goons ruining the league. If they can’t find a way to change their game then maybe there is no room for those players. The NHL cannot afford to keep those liabilities on the ice if it means losing players to death or career suffering injuries like concussions.  The unfortunate irony is though is that deaths might be the only way to stop the NHL and fights. I know that sounds sad, but that is the realization now. The NHL is just sad and in a dark deep hole it seems that all they are doing is digging deeper and deeper instead of trying to find a solution.

Bruce Arthur, who writes in the sports section of the National Post and is one of my favorites wrote about the Parros event and I wanted to pick out some of what he wrote. A writer who gets it. this is what he wrote via the National Post 

Nobody questions the courage of the men who fight. But it seems so long ago that we were all worried after the deaths of Wade Belak, of Rick Rypien, of Derek Boogaard. Their deaths raised complex issues of depression, of whether depression was linked to fighting, of suicide, of the easy access to painkillers, of overdoses, of what this thing makes some men do. The discussion flared, and … vanished. Nothing was resolved.

This won’t change anything. We will jump on the merry-go-round, talk it over, jump off. But George Parros has hurt people, and he has gotten hurt, and as he lay there I wondered how there can’t be a better way to police this game.


Bruce nails it in this reading. He mentions that we will forget all about what occurred and happen in the past. It sounds unfortunate, but it is the truth. rarely will we take time to really sit back  and for the NHL, do something about it. Commissioner Bettman has yet to speak up about what has happened to Parros. Which is very concerning.  It seems like Bettman is more concerned about money in his pockets than caring about the players he employs. Of course you could not really suspend Orr there or anyone, it was a freak accident,But it just seems weird to not have the boss speak up or address the fans and its players about what occurred on Tuesday night.

Who knows if fighting will be completely gone, and if it will be who knows what will take the league to band it for good. It is nice to see that some NHL GMs use their heads and have an opinion about eliminating such a foolish act for such a beautiful sport. But for now all we can do as fans is sit back and like Bruce Arthur pointed out. We will leave it be and enjoy the rest of the NHL 82 game season. with prayers and hopes that one day or some day the NHL and it’s governors will talk the common sense and banned fighting from hockey from the worlds greatest sport. Because if they don’t this dark cloud is going to haunt the very game everyone loves, and it will become a game more known for its fits than its goals and celebrations.


A Thank you Letter to the Basketball Jones

Dear Basketball Jones, congratulations on reaching a 1000 episodes of the TBJ podcast. No better podcast I have listened to has brought the same passion, knowledge, and Tas Melas cooking recipe……wait, sorry, wrong podcast. Anyway, Every day I have enjoyed hearing Skeets, Tas, Trey, Matt Austin, JD and even that weird guy Leigh Ellis. Whether it be live or in a podcast form, hearing “gimmie some Raptor news” almost every day as some report on the Raptors trying to improve their team fails, or talking about the daily NBA action. I always felt as interested about basketball as I ever was hearing the TBJ show.

Can never pick out one particular moment or episode and say it is the best, because every episode was as good, if not better, than the one previous. You guys have connected with so many players, teams, reporters and fans in a way that no other podcast can do. You bring the fun into the sport with Trey’s random posts on whether Andrew Bynum is in costume or not, to Opinion posts on current NBA topics with such hard work that it seems every 5 minutes you got something new and Interesting to post.

The impact you guys have on the Basketball world is so big that a phrase from a video started to be glued on a certain former Raptor so much that it has become a trademark saying for when he makes a smart,or dumb play on the court. “Tweet Of The Week” has been a growing segment from Leigh Ellis, it has gotten me to follow certain NBA players because their personality has come out whenever Leigh would grab a player’s tweet and say it on air.

I don’t know if there will be a two thousand episode show, but I hope. This Blog has grown into one of the better and trusted sources of basketball out there, and with more contributors like Andrew Umberger writing posts, it can only grow. The fans have also grown and grown, and the support shows deservedly the impact that you guys have had.

Keep doing what you are doing, because I – and I am sure i speak for others- have been lucky enough to enjoy every piece of content that is put up on the blog. Cannot wait till the next season when there will be more headlines and chances to hear a tbj podcast again. Thank you.


James Gleason

Allen Iverson, Tracy Mcgrady announce retirement. Gives fans time to look back.

NBA career’s come and go, players get drafted or signed to a certain team and play their years. When key or historic players decided to announce their departure from the game. Fans, writers and players of the NBA get a chance to reflect on those players careers and get a chance to critique them. In this case, the players that have hung up the sneakers although given these two players some might say it was long overdue and decided to call it quits. Allen Iverson  announced his retirement on August 22,While former All Star Tracy Mcgrady announced his just a week after Iverson announced his.  Mcgrady announced his retirement on ESPN’s First Take  He spoke about his decision,

“It’s been 16 years playing the game I love,” McGrady said on ESPN’s First Take. “I’ve had a great run, but it’s time for it to come to an end.”

Tracy Mcgrady was drafted by the Raptors back in 1997 and made an impact with his cousin Vince in helping the Raptors get noticed and a mark in the NBA.   In three seasons with Toronto, He averaged  7.0 ppg in his rookie year, 9.3 in his second year, and 15.4 in his final year with the Dinos, Before being moved to Orlando, and later Houston. with stops in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, and more recently, the Spurs. His best year was in 2002-03 where he averaged 32 points per game, and had a PER over 20 in 10 of his 17 season.  He averaged a PER of 30 in 2002-03 which his best of his career, and as crazy as anything when you think about it. He was a phenomenal player that for his size made most of his shots by the jumper, but that would not discount his driving ability. His hands were one of the best in the league, and he could get to the rim with ease whether it be by the left or right.  He was a back to back scoring champ in 02-03 and 03-04      and held the largest margin of a scoring lead in NBA History, according to NBA History’s twitter page.

Image via Getty and Yahoo Sports

Image via Getty and Yahoo Sports

Those times he was considered one of the more efficient  and prolific scorers in the league next to likes of Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.  But Playoff failures and criticism of  “not caring” haunted Mcgrady. As he continually failed to get past the first round (until he got signed by the Spurs) and lack of playoff performance would tarnish a hall of fame career. His nagging injury problems with both his knees and back would force him to miss much of his latter years with Houston and demolish any scoring ability he had by the young age of 31.  His star playing role would be reduced to less minutes and bench warming time while he played for several NBA teams.  People stopped thinking of prolific scorer he was and thought  more of a role player trying to make the most of his salary.  It was a shame really. He left fair earlier than he announced he did, everyone knew it. People like me though, wished and hoped there was a little of that old “T-mac: left in him that would just shine one more time. But it was not to be, it was never to be.

Then there is Allen Iverson. Arguably the most influential, controversial and game changers when it came to Basketball. Drafted out of Georgetown by the Sixers  number one overall in the loaded 96 NBA Draft. Allen Iverson wasted no time making an impact, he would win the 96-97 NBA Rookie of the year with postings of 23 ppg and 7.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from the floor, and 31 percent from three-point land. For a guy who did not  want to play basketball but football, he fit right in with the league, and his hip hop vibe would not only take notice with the NBA, but changed the way the game was played and viewed in a way no other player could do.  He was one of the more respected and complete players in the NBA.  He sits 19th in the NBA All Time Scoring list 24,368 points, leading the likes of Charles Barkley, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.  He won the NBA MVP back in 2000-2001 while winning 2 ASG MVPs. Unlike Tracy, it did not take him a long time to get passed the first round of the playoffs. He would move on and face the eventual Lakers in the NBA Finals, but not before facing the Toronto Raptors in one of the more memorable games and series in NBA history, With Iverson advancing and winning the Eastern Finals.

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

He brought back hope in the city of Philadelphia, for what was once a lowly Sixers squad that was desperate for a player who would take charge and be the new face, He made the Sixers from one of the more forgetful teams into one you could not miss out on game in and game out. His game at times were questioned, People clamming him selfish and not a “team guy” because he would jack up more shots than pass . But people would not question the one thing he showed the most. Heart, Very few players showed the guts and the want to win more than A.I. For his small frame at a small height of six feet – while only weighing 165 pounds – they thought Iverson would not handle the toughness of the paint, and should have been more of a perimeter player. While he did have a pretty good perimeter game, it was his driving and constant trips to the foul line that made him great. He was one of the toughest players in the League and was fearless of any competition he faced. His drives to the basket and tough lay-ups would make him very efficient. He would shoot a career 41 percent from the floor, while having a career PER of 20.9 throughout his career.  He was always a big part of a team’s offence, as he posted a USG% rate of 30.1, most of them coming when he played with basically no one during his Philly years.

But his career took an interesting turn, in the year of 2006, Allen Iverson would be traded out of his beloved Sixers squad and to the Nuggets. This was one of the bigger trades that year, that has happened in the NBA.  the Sixers would get vet guard Andre Miller, and NBA journeyman Joe Smith from the Nuggets, along with a 2007 first round pick. Iverson posted great numbers and took control of the offence for Carmelo Anthony who was suspended for that famous brawl at the Garden back in 2006.  While Iverson flourished with the high-flying and fast paced Nuggets offence. He never did mesh with Melo enough to make a real post-season threat and would bow out to the Clippers in the Western Conference Quarter Finals.

Iverson would soon find his way to the poor, poor city of Detroit in a deal that sent Chauceny Billups and vet Antonio Mcdyess to the Nuggets.     This deal was the start of the downfall of Iverson. His problems with Detroit were noted as he would only spend 54 games and one season with the Pistons while posting only 17.4 ppg.  It would not take long for Iverson to get traded to Memphis, where problems with him being on the bench and not getting enough minutes would have him only play 3 games and averaging his lowest scoring total of 12.2 ppg. His frustrations with management and teammates would get media to take a different look at Ai,  Not the one who dominated the floor, but one who put his ego ahead of the team and coaches. One who would not take ” playing off bench’ lightly with Iverson mouthing off about his lack of starts.

Iverson would play his final NBA season back at Philly, but never did he get back into the old groove of things. He left the NBA to play some games in turkey, and china. The fire and passion seemed lost and his money also followed suit, with apparent reports of him filing for bankruptcy   His respect and the love that he had with so many people vanished  and  was replaced with feelings for worry, and criticism was weighed heavily into Iversons shoulders. No one knows his current situation now, but his retirement sure places a question mark and a concern for his well-being.

Tracy Mcgrady and Iverson both were huge inspirations for kids who wanted to ball. Hell, the main reason I got into basketball was Iverson. He was the first j basketball Jersey I ever owned. Both put on shows day in and out, both scored 60 in their sleep, and both changed the game in ways more than one. Iverson brought a more Urban feel to the game, and hip hop felt like it was home with the NBA, and Tracy, with the help of Yao Ming, brought the NBA to China, and helped make it one of the NBA’s most important and profitable places in the world. Tracy help the Raptors be on the map with Carter, while making hoops in Canada not only important, but a one of the improving and building sites for future NBA players. Iverson and his street rep had so much effect that it forced Stern to put in a dress code.

These guys are NBA Hall of Famers no doubt, they both put up crazy numbers, both were ASG selections, and both were important for the NBA to be as big as it has ever been. From Tracy’s dunk over Shawn Bradley, to Iversons cross on Tyrone Lue.  These plays helped future stars like KD and Curry want to step up and be the NBA stars they are. So I say thank you, to both of you, in a way I can only say. With YouTube clips

The Blank Jones Podcast:001

A new podcast idea came to fruition today as me and my podcast partner Mohammed Mohammed  discussed the following


The summerslam ppv that happened and what we think will happen


We take a look at the epl season and arsenal


Talk about the Leafs and how they will fare this upcoming season


Raptors talk and a quick summary of the news of the day

ooh, and Winnipeg sucks. Enjoy!



P.S. it was the  first episode, i know we have no fancy music or name. Shadddaauup