Toronto Raptors Disaster


Wholly crap what a total [email protected]#@[email protected] show.

Is there something about owning the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors that destines one to total dysfunction?

Honestly, I think we all thought the worst was behind us when it was Smith/Dryden and Quinn. Or, JFJ and Quinn. Who can forget the search committees? Peddie mouthing Fletcher’s words? The ownership situation with the Raptors from day one!

I have to think that Ballard and Stavros are down there laughing up at us.

I read the accounts of the multiple press conferences today and you actually hope the team moves.

Let’s start with Cathal Kelly in the Toronto Star:

“One thing that clearly has been discussed is how much involvement Colangelo will have in the team — none. It was more than that. Colangelo was welcomed with a series of dire warnings on the matter.
“Bryan’s going to have to occasionally take a deep breath and understand now, that a GM is going to have a direct report (to me), and final say-so on all basketball decisions,” Leiweke said. “He’s going to have to live with that. And I hope he can. Because if he can’t, I’m fairly certain we’re not going to fire the Toronto Raptors.”

Yes! Where do I sign up for tickets to this mess? I mean I’d love to see MLSE- Behind the scenes, a new reality TV show on TV ontario, that is something I’d pay to watch.

Kelly has another article, that’s spot on:

“When the NBA escorted Bryan Colangelo into the Raptors’ corner office seven years ago, the general manager’s job came with an understanding.
None of the dilettantes in the MLSE boardroom would be allowed to interfere with him. At the outset, they were warned against even crossing the threshold into his offices without an invitation.
The upshot — Colangelo had agreed to come to Toronto in order to save the flailing Raptors from themselves. Now, according to sources speaking to the Star’s Doug Smith, he’s being fired by way of promotion.”

That was from today, but after I wrote my last story….

Damien Cox has a really good feel good story for Maple Leaf fans:

“Nothing’s off the table. People need to understand that, and given the way young teams develop, they also need to understand that while the Leafs very nearly upset the Bruins, there’s a decent chance Toronto won’t be as successful next season as it was this season.
Leiweke may or may not share that outlook. He and Nonis, you should know, barely know one another, and haven’t spent recent weeks having beers on patios and trading war stories.
“It will be my GM, and I will have his back,” said Leiweke today of the next Raptors GM, and presumably, he’ll want to feel exactly the same way about the individual running the Leafs.”

Jeff Blair calls it bang on in his article:

“Colangelo, who in what seems like a sop to Larry Tanenbaum and maybe even NBA commissioner David Stern has hung on to the title of Toronto Raptors president after being relieved of the general manager’s powers, said in a conference call on Tuesday that he was “thrilled and excited being part of this thing – in terms of putting the finishing touches on a team that I think is well on its way to being a competitive team … a playoff team.”

He has brass ones, our Bryan: leading off his conference call by describing as a “mis-characterization” the description of his reaction to the news that had been offered up by his boss, Tim Leiweke, about an hour earlier. Colangelo preferred “disappointed,” to “ticked off,” – so much so that he gave ‘disappointed’ an extension.”

Steve Simmons nails it too:

“In a way, this has been tried — and failed — already at MLSE. Just in a different form. Then, it was a Richard Peddie production. He didn’t want Pat Quinn to have the roles of both coach and general manager of the Maple Leafs in the late 1990s. He told him to pick one job over the other.

Foolishly, Quinn, who loved coaching, picked the bench job.

Somehow, John Ferguson Jr. wound up being hired as the Leafs’ general manager.

Quinn had no use for Ferguson as a GM. Ferguson had little use for Quinn as a coach. I won’t call what happened open warfare — but the two were barely civil to each other. And what began was a long string of losing seasons that tarnished Quinn’s final years as Leaf coach.

If Leiweke wanted Colangelo out as general manager, which he clearly did, then the proper thing to do — and the easy thing to do — would have been to say, ‘Thanks for your time and you’re no longer needed.’

But Larry Tanenbaum, as chairman of the board of MLSE, tends to fall in love with those who run his teams, even if they run them badly.”

Mike Ganter brings a different perspective:

“Leiweke, if he accomplished nothing else yesterday, confirmed he is in complete control of the entire Raptors operation.

It was his decision — and his decision alone — to keep Colangelo and his 18 years of managerial experience in the Raptors’ head office. Colangelo loses the GM tag, but remains president and will report directly to Leiweke. The new GM, when he arrives, will report solely to Leiweke as well.

Leiweke knows the decision to keep Colangelo around opens him up to all kinds of second guessing and, quite frankly, he doesn’t really care.

He is that confident that he can manage the process. Rather than fear the possible infighting or backstabbing that could happen, he prefers to see the potential help a man with Colangelo’s years of experience and wealth of contacts could be, both to himself and to the man who will succeed him as GM.”

Does anyone believe this?

The fine folks at the National Post worked together on an article:

“The real change won’t be team colours or the logo or an all-star bauble, though. The Raptors are a joke because they don’t win, so it’s the next hire that matters, and how that hire handles this strange shadow that has been placed in the corner. Leiweke said he has a list of about six candidates who have the ability to trade well, draft well and establish a philosophical identity and dictate that to a coaching staff that he would like to interview for the job. He anticipates being denied permission to speak to some of the candidates by the current employers. The odds that he gets the exact right guy, given the limitations, seems unlikely. This all feels very temporary; the Raptors front office as scaffolding, until a better structure can be built.”

Michael Grange wants you to watch out for your shoes:

“But all of that will have to take place. The Raptors will have to make the playoffs. They’ll have to become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have to be a team that TNT or ESPN might even put on one of their broadcasts once in a blue moon.

But if none of that happens — and who wants to take that bet at the moment? — and the Raptors continue to be the NBA’s version of the chubby private school kid who keeps peeing on their shoes, then the events of the past 24 hours will be as good a place to start as any for someone trying to explain why a rich club in a massive market is on pace for 20 years of various versions of basketball failure.”

Winning cures all. Either they win or it’s same old, same old and the curse continues.


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Steve Clark
May 22, 2013 9:23 am

Lieweke’s comments about making the Raptors “Canada’s Team” was a bold missive as well. When the Raps were on CBC, the ratings were not consistent with a national audience and were a fraction of what Hockey Night gets on a regular basis. Getting the Raps to resonate in Kelowna/Moose Jaw and Charlottetown will be a long row to hoe.

Do the Raps even have a radio network outside of TO?

His statements have been bold thats for sure….

Blue Jays Devotee
Blue Jays Devotee
May 22, 2013 9:30 am

Why would you keep Colangelo on in any capacity when you fired him from his GM position for 100% performance based failure over the past 5 years, after an initial good start.

All you are doing is making the job of getting a quality GM to join the organization that much tougher, as regardless of what Leiweke says about the reporting structure and how there would be no interference, why would a qualified candidate take that risk?

This is all being done to allow Colangelo to find his next GM gig while being employed to make his job easier. Why would Leiweke agree to this arrangement, which only benefits Colangelo.

My guess is that the all-powerful Stern, who did Toronto at the time a favour by making things happen for Colangelo to come in, given his close ties with Papa Colangelo, instructed Leiweke to parachute Colangelo for now until he can bolt. I have lost respect for Leiweke, as regardless of his rational for doing this, it is 100% the wrong thing to do and sends the wrong message to the fanbase.

On the one hand, I am ecstatic that Colangelo is no longer running the basketball operations, and am looking forward to the replacement who will be in board within 30 days, but on the other hand, he is still lurking, which is not good at all.

Rob in Aurora
Rob in Aurora
May 22, 2013 11:51 am

I maintain that the Raptors are a viable franchise in TO only because TO is such a large city…I think the Raptors are doing what the Balckhawks did under Bill Wirtz for many years. Just like Chicago, there are about 25,000 rabid fans living in a large metropolitan area, they buy the tickets and they love the team, but beyond that there is a general disinterest in Toronto and definitely the rest of Canada. The disinterest is becoming dislike these past few years. Similarly there is a general disinterest in Chicago for the Blackhawks among non hockey fans (and that is hidden by how well the team has done in recent years). If the hawks were as poor a team as the leafs have been over the last few decades, they would be a very tough sell in Chicago by now.

The Raptors have become a very tough sell in the rest of Canada. I don’t think there are enough basketball fans here. There are definitely plenty of people that hate Toronto enough to never adopt the Raptors as “their team”. It’s much easier for people in other provinces to be Laker, Knicks or Heat fans.

I am rooting for the Raptors to fail. Not because I don’t like basketball, but because the Raptors have been such a farce from day one. All their stars leave Toronto as soon as possible. Effectively, I believe if they don’t want to be here, I really don’t want them here. So go away – get out, don’t come back. Toronto doesn’t need a poorly run basketball team to be a big league city. Move the team for all I care.
….We all know that won’t happen. So if I was running things, the first thing I would do is a total re-brand. It would be: “We need a new identity for this team – So we’re changing our team name and our uniform – we’re distancing ourselves from a very sketchy past and a poorly ruin franchise that has enjoyed very little success. We want our fans to take pride in this team and the best way is to have a whole new image.”….You only have one chance to do that properly – New owners and a new GM and a complete rebuild is a great time (the only time) to do that….There is zero brand equity in the “Raptor” name and image – I believe it is in the negative.

May 22, 2013 12:00 pm

Would love to see the Raptors go blue and white and call themselves the ‘Huskies’.

Blue Jays Devotee
Blue Jays Devotee
May 22, 2013 2:38 pm

Rob in Aurora, I will comment on your points, which have some validity, but you are blowing them out of proportion.

The Raptors have not been a complete farce since Day 1, although with only 5 playoff appearances in their history and one Series win, you can make the case. The only reason why I say that was due the brief, but incredibly exciting Vince Carter era, before he lost interest in the team.

All of their stars do not leave Toronto as soon as possible. Their two biggest stars, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh both resigned with us for their second contracts, so I am not sure where you are coming from there. Sure, they left after, but most of the players out of the top NBA destination cities leave for greener pastures at some point.

The problem was not with the star players here, it was with ownership being cheap and not wanting to go into the luxury tax, like almost all successful teams do, and spend to bring the ‘A’ level talent around them. Sure, they tried, but they failed, and I don’t blame either Carter or Bosh for leaving when they did.

You are underestimating the Toronto market btw. There is zero chance of us losing our team, especially in a content driven era when we are owned by Bell/Rogers. If the Raptors can start to build a proper team, and not quick fixes that have failed under the Colangelo era, they will grow their fanbase, and while it is limited to a lot of hardcore fans plus a lot of casual fans who just go to the games for the entertainment aspect and don’t care if we win or lose, winning will go a long way.

Your tone is incredibly bitter, not sure why you have so much hate for this team. What have they done to you? Why would you want to lose this team anyways and have a lot of people lose their jobs and the economy take a hit.

Bottom line I too walked away from the Raptors as long as Colangelo was running things, as I have zero confidence in his abilities as a GM. It turns out that Leiweke and I are in agreement, and his removal from basketball operations is the first step for me to follow the team again.

While I stepped away, I never would wish for the demise of the franchise, and I still don’t get why you would want that.

May 23, 2013 10:18 am

The only way for the Raps to be financially successful is to contend. They’re in the same boat as the perennial losing Blue Jays. Neither team has enough hardcore fans with disposable cash to guarantee a sell out for each home game – thus they both need the peripheral fan.

The Raps have had the advantage of being tied to the Leafs but if one day Rogers & Bell decide to piece off the Raps, they’ll be dead within a few years (if they continue their losing ways). I’m not saying Rogers & Bell are going to rid themselves of the Raps but if I was running MLS&E, I certainly would.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x