Colangelo’s Raptor Honeymoon Is Offically Over

And there you have it. In one of the most awkward, painful press conferences I have ever seen, the Bryan Colangelo Toronto Raptors honeymoon is officially over. I know it’s a little late to be saying it, but it is now open season for the critics to go after Colangelo. Go after him they will. It’s already started.

We have all seen too many of these post season press conferences. We just saw Brian Burkes, so it may as well serve as a basis for how these things generally work. It is funny how Burke and Colangelo are attached. The hockey world in Toronto, from a media perspective implored Richard Peddie and his search committee to find the NHL’s version of Colangelo; the bright shooting star who do the franchise proud, the guy who would tell ownership what he needed and that was about al. It’s funny how there world’s appear to be diverging now.

Burke, at his season wrap up looked calm, cool and well, at peace. Colangelo, by comparison looked like absolute hell. Burke, while referring to notes, looked straight ahead, making full eye contact with the camera and those asking questions. Colangelo’s eyes were down the majority of the time. Burke said his team wasn’t good enough and changes were coming. Colanagelo said that even without any changes his team would be better.(To be fair Colangelo did say we should expect change this off-season). The evening of and the morning after the most vocal Maple Leaf media critics were still saying I believe. The same is no longer true in Raptor land.

“Some sporting GMs are described as visionary architects, and maybe Colangelo will become one someday. But on Monday, in a wide-ranging post-mortem on his team’s second straight losing season, Colangelo sounded less like a savvy builder of great rosters than a desperate seller of swampland. Four seasons into his sub-.500 tenure, it’s getting harder and harder to buy a word he says. ”

Now every GM is hired to be fired, I know that. However who would have guessed those words (true as they may be) would be aimed at the NBA’s chosen one so soon? Dave Feschuk is most likely echoing the sentiments of most in Raptor land these days. Until recently though few would dare to question Colangelo.

“Colangelo actually attempted to sell his audience on the notion that MLSE is in these games to win these games.

“The plan is to win basketball games at whatever cost,” Colangelo said at one point.

I am not making this up.

“At whatever cost,” are the words he used.

That, folks, isn’t a sales pitch: It’s just a lie. The defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers are spending some $25 million (all figures U.S.) more than the Raptors on salaries this season — you can argue their plan is to win basketball games at whatever cost. ”

I will discuss the winning issue below. The shots at MLSE are nothing new. The shots at Colangelo are.

“Toronto’s profiteers are paying Colangelo some $4 million a year to dance around the obviousness of this uneven playing field; to toss a mismatched mix into a locker room every October, to up-sell their merits to the ticket-buying public, and to appear positively shocked when the new guys don’t play well together. We all understand this.

And we understand, too, that Colangelo is angling for a contract extension. So certainly that explains his elegant sips of the corporate Kool-Aid. Still, credibility’s a precious thing, and Colangelo lost some Monday. ”

WOW…. them’s fighting words. Fighting words that haven’t been written about Colangelo in this city. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Feschuk’s wrong, or off-base. I’m just saying the winds have changed. The media that covers this team is starting to smell blood and this is a scenario I have seen before.

“But he was also oddly off-key at times; saying of the enduring lack of an explosive swingman, “Kobe’s not available”; blaming fan dissatisfaction on a media-fuelled “frenzied movement’; defending MLSE’s commitment to winning, which is contradicted by a significant amount of evidence.”

That gem from the National Post’s Bruce Arthur. Arthur is right. The usually very well polished Colangelo wasn’t today. The only thing sharp about him was his tie. The rest of him wasn’t very Colangelo like. He looked and sounded more like JFJ than Colangelo.

Arthur wasn’t as “pointed” as Feschuk was:

“But then, in the end, it doesn’t much matter what Colangelo says; it matters what he does. And he will do something. Colangelo was a demon last summer, swapping out almost the entire roster. He wants badly to win, whether it’s the final year of his contract or not.

The question, however, is not of intentions, but rather of judgement. Colangelo’s underlying message was that he believes that this team was more truthfully revealed by its 25-11 run in the middle of the season rather than the combined 15-31 bookends to the season. We’re not that far away, he kept saying.”

The proof is in the proverbial pudding. I get it. I agree with it. What happens next is going to be fascinating to watch. The one smirk on Colangelo’s face came when he was asked about potential changes this summer. He said that things weren’t very pretty at this time last year and he was fairly successful in making changes last year. He had the twinkle in his eye that we hope means you haven’t seen anything yet.

So here is what he is facing. Let’s see. Everyone is writing off Bosh being back. So if he is gone, everyone will say, I told you so. If he goes in a sign and trade the bar has been set very low. Pennies on the loonie is the term I have seen most often for the return. If Bosh walks and brings back nothing in return, we can know exactly what we can expect in terms of opinion. The question is, is Colangelo up for the challenge.

I am not going to get into this whole commitment to winning thing. There is a clear difference between ability to win and evidence thereof and desire or commitment to do so. While I think MLSE has failed miserably at the winning thing. The commitment thing? I have no such problem. I had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Watters last week right after another one of his MLS&E rants and said the following: Bill, you have ripped the folks at MLSE for a long time and with respect to the Raptors you said that the only reason they, MLS&E stopped screwing up was that boy wonder, Colangelo was handed to them by the league. So…….now that the results are not really all that better today then they were before (you know where this is going) boy wonder appeared- what do you say to Raptors fans? To his credit Watters said he really didn’t know. The only name he mustered was Butch Carter. Final point on dedication to winning, until someone tells me that Colangelo asked for something, including money and was denied I am not buying it.

The real question I have for everyone is, if Colangelo isn’t the answer who is??????

Dave Feschuk’s article on Bryan Colangelo is here

Bruce Arthur’s article on Bryan Colangelo is here

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