Six-year NBA veteran Chris Bosh is releasing a DVD on December 15th. “Chris Bosh Presents: First Ink” will include an in-depth look into the Raptor’s summer training, side projects and experiences with the NBA’s elite.
“First Ink” is a 30 minute video documenting Bosh’s training over the 2009 preseason, and his new training regimen.
The DVD will also include five of Bosh’s comedic CBTV side projects, including his Used Car Salesman skit during his campaign for All Star votes.
If you missed out on Chris Bosh’s Christmas party, don’t worry. There will be more.
The Chris Bosh Foundation, started by the Raptor star, held its first “Christmas Bash” in Toronto on Saturday.
150 inner city youth were entertained by guest performers, and got free food and prizes. Of course, they also got to meet Bosh, who says this party will be an annual tradition.
The Big Bosh man sat down with andPOP to discuss the foundation, the party, music, the team, his All Star hopes, and more.
Players talk about their owner.
Ask a New Jersey Nets player how big an effect Jay-Z has on the team, and they’ll be complimentary towards the rapper ? and minority owner of the NBA team?and insist he has a far greater role with the club than one might expect.
Ask a former Net and you get a different story.
Jay-Z, whose real name is Sean Carter, is part of an ownership group, headed by real estate developer Bruce Ratner, that took over the Nets last August.
“He’s always at the game and he’s a staple in New Jersey,” Nets forward Richard Jefferson says, before his team beat the Toronto Raptors 102-92 on Friday. “People come to games just to see if he’s going to be there. He’s very positive when it comes to the team and it has a good effect.”
Jefferson says that unlike with other owners, the players can joke around with Jay-Z, and treat him like a comrade rather than a superior.
“He’s real chill. He’s been at team dinners and jokes with everybody. He asks a lot of questions about basketball. He’s a fan that got to be a part of an ownership group so he’s the best type of owner.”
Vince Carter, acquired by the Nets last December in a trade with the Raptors, echoes Jefferson’s thoughts.
“He’s just a down to earth person,” Carter says, sitting in the visitor’s locker room at the Air Canada Centre as Jay-Z’s music plays in the background. “We all know what he can do in the world of hip hop but he’s a mogul.
“To own a team is one thing but he’s everywhere with us.”
Of course they’re going to praise Jay-Z, though. No players, no matter how big of a star they are, will publicly criticize their owner, no matter how big their stake in the club is.
But Aaron Williams, who was traded to the Raptors last year after playing just over four seasons with the Nets, is free to say what he wants about his former owner, with fears of repercussion absent.
“He had zero impact on the team. He was never there,” Williams says. “He has no say. He’s just there for publicity.”
But don’t sense bitterness in Williams’ comments. The 6’9”-forward did not expect, nor want, the minority owner to be involved with the team.
“I don’t think he’s qualified to be involved. He’s a rapper and a businessman. I don?t think he knows anything about the business of basketball,” says Williams.
That’s not the case, says Nets coach Lawrence Frank.
The bench boss of the Nets since January of 2004, Frank says Jay-Z has helped out with the team whenever needed.
“He helped us this summer with recruiting, just spending time calling guys up, meeting with guys, and lending his time,” he says.
“He’s just been outgoing and a helpful owner. You know he’s a busy guy but he still is able to carve out time to help with that.”
Since he became a part owner, two other members of the urban music world have entered the NBA’s owner’s club?Usher with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Nelly with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Having an entertainer involved with the team could have some impact on a free agent’s decision of who to sign with, Carter says. “[Jay-Z] opens so many doors after basketball.”
Jay-Z is not only an NBA owner and rapper, but he is the president and CEO of Def Jam, founded Roc-A-Fella Records and the Rocawear clothing label, and owns the popular 40/40 club in New York.
Those are some “doors” that Williams won’t be able to take advantage of.
“Did he ask you to be in any videos?” Raptor Matt Bonner chimes in.
Williams responds, “I had to turn him down a few times.”
With the 2005/2006 NBA season ready to go in few weeks, prognosticators are in full swing forecasting the League’s movers and shakers. andPOP decided to get in on the action and provide our NBA predictions.
New Jersey Nets
The Nets looked as if they could be one of the better teams in the east when they “signed” Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Unfortunately for them, he failed his physical and they rescinded the deal. Marc Jackson will serve as Reef?s stand-in — but it won?t be the same. They?ll still be good enough to take the woeful Atlantic division, but expect a quick exit in the playoffs.
Key additions: Marc Jackson, Jeff McInnis, Antoine Wright
Key losses: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (sort of)
New York Knicks
The Knicks are an interesting team, especially with the inclusion of Larry Brown. They have all the talent in the world, but chemistry will be a big issue — after all, there?s only one ball. Should be interesting to see how Eddy Curry works out — or doesn?t.
Key additions: Eddy Curry, Nate Robinson, Jerome James, Larry Brown
Key losses: Jerome Williams, Tim Thomas
I wonder if GM Billy King would make that trade for Chris Webber again? Either way, the 76ers are a talented team and could make some noise if they stay healthy. The key word being if…
Key additions: Steven Hunter, Lee Nailon
Key losses: Aaron McKie
Danny Ainge?s crazy vision is finally starting to take shape. The Celtics are a young, hungry team that will surprise if you let your guard down. Look for Al Jefferson to step up and average a double-double this season. The clock is ticking on Paul Pierce?
Key additions: Gerald Green, Dan Dickau
Key losses: Antoine Walker, Gary Payton
Despite all the heat Rob Babcock has taken of late, the team has plenty of youth to build around. Look for the Raptors to finish in the bottom of the Atlantic this season, but gain more valuable ping-pong balls.
Key additions: Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham, Mike James, Jose Calderon
Key losses: Donyell Marshall, Rafer Alston, Milt Palacio
The Pistons? stellar roster has, for the most part, remained the same. The biggest difference is, of course, the coaching swap that sent Larry Brown to New York and brought in Flip Saunders. Saunders will probably want to up the tempo and try some different zone defences. Can the Pistons acclimate fast enough? And who will warm Darko?s spot on the bench if he actually gets a chance to play?
Key additions: Flip Saunders, Dale Davis, Maurice Evans
Key losses: Larry Brown
The Cavs will be one of the most improved teams this year. They added great talent, and cut some dead weight. LeBron will, no doubt, have another fantastic season — but what about the newly acquired Larry Hughes? Will he continue his stellar play, or relax now that he has a big, fat contract?
Key additions: Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes, Damon Jones
Key losses: Jeff McInnis
Considering the Bulls played much of last season without Eddy Curry, his trade shouldn?t affect them that much. However, if they don?t get Antonio Davis back,they?re front court is suspiciously weak. The Bulls are a deep team, whose young players are constantly improving.
Key additions: Tim Thomas, Darius Songaila
Key losses: Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis (maybe)
The Pacers? roster didn?t change all that much, and Ron Artest is still out of his mind — same ol? in Indy. If Jermaine O?Neal can stay healthy and Ron Artest can stay out of jail, the Pacers should compete in the east.
Key additions: Sarunas Jasikevicius
Key losses: James Jones, Reggie Miller
There are many questions in Milwaukee: Will Andrew Bogut?s post moves be as quick as his mouth? Will Bobby Simmons? new-found wealth go towards bail? Can T.J. Ford be as effective as he was before his big fall? One thing is for sure though; they?ll still be in the Central basemesnt.
Key additions: Andrew Bogut, Bobby Simmons, T.J. Ford (back from injury)
Key losses: Terry Porter, Zaza Pachulia
The Heat will win the east this year, unless J-Will and ?Toine don?t buy into being supporting cast members. Even with any personnel problems, the Heat will still be a top five team in the east. Throw it down big man. Throw it down!
Key additions: Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, James Posey, Gary Payton
Key losses: Damon Jones, Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler
The Wizards lost one of their best performers from last season in Larry Hughes, but picked up some nice pieces in Caron Butler and Antonio Daniels. I don?t think Washington can match last season?s performance without Hughes.
Key additions: Caron Butler, Antonio Daniels, Chucky Atkins
Key losses: Juan Dixon, Larry Hughes, Steve Blake
There won?t be anything magical about Orlando this season. Grant Hill will play around 30 games and Steve Francis will continue to make an ass of himself. The good news is Dwight Howard is a stud.
Key additions: Keyon Dooling, Bo Outlaw
Key losses: Doug Christie
Although very young, Atlanta has a terrible roster filled with duplication and one-dimensional players. They?ll be somewhat improved from last year, not that that?s saying much, but I still see them fighting Charlotte for last place in the Southeast.
Key additions: Zaza Pachulia, Marvin Williams, Salim Stoudamire
Key losses: Jason Collier (RIP)
The Bobcats will play hard and develop their young talent. The Cats have a great core of talented players and good people. And of course, the more they lose, the more Tar Heels they can draft next year.
Key Additions: Sean May, Raymond Felton
Key losses: n/a
The Nuggets have played very well since George Karl took the reigns as head coach. The Nuggs will be improved this season, as they have much greater depth at the guard spots. However, success or failure is ultimately a result of Carmelo Anthony and how he plays. Time to grow up, Melo.
Key additions: Earl Watson, Voshon Lenard (back from injury)
Key losses: n/a
The T?Wolves will be better this year, if you believe in addition by subtraction. With headaches Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell gone, the Wolves should be a much more cohesive team. However, I have to question Kevin McHale?s decision to can Flip Saunders.
Key additions: Marco Jaric, Rashad McCants
Key loses: Fred Hoiberg, Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland is finally starting to shake that ?jailblazer? image they earned a few a seasons ago. Portland is a deep team that is stacked, I mean stacked, at the guard positions. If Zach Randolph can keep his head out of the clouds (figuratively and literally) and play team basketball, the Blazers could make some noise in the Northwest.
Key additions: Jarrett Jack, Juan Dixon, Martell Webster
Key losses: Derek Anderson
Utah is talented, but just doesn?t have the guns to keep up with the best of the West. Jerry Sloan will be his same long-winded self, which guarantees at least 20 wins regardless of what kind of team he has to work with.
Key additions: Devin Brown, Deron Williams
Key losses: Raja Bell, Kirk Snyder
The Kings aren?t as talented as they used to be, but with Phoenix?s off-season struggles they should be good enough to win the Southwest. Mike Bibby and Brad Miller will be solid. Is this the year they finally trade Peja?
Key additions: Bonzi Wells, Jason Hart
Key losses: Cuttino Mobley
Last season the Suns tore up the League, but this season they?ll be lucky to win the Southwest. Amare is out for a while, Q-Rich is gone and Joe Johnson is gone. Phoenix is going to be a very different team. Will they be able to run as much with the inclusion of Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant?
Key additions: Briant Grant, Kurt Thomas, James Jones
Key losses: Quentin Richardson, Joe Johnson
Los Angeles Lakers
Reunited and it feels so good. Kobe and Phil Jackson are back together and seem to be on the same page. But can Phil really work with a guy he said was uncoachable? Either way, the Lakers aren?t going to be very good this season. Who?s going to play the point?
Key additions: Phil Jackson, Kwame Brown
Key losses: Chucky Atkins, Caron Butler
Los Angeles Clippers
What can you say about the Clippers? They stank last year and they?re going to stink this season. Elton Brand is a stud, but he can only do so much by himself. They?re somewhat improved from last season, but I just don?t believe they?re capable of making some noise.
Key additions: Cuttino Mobley, Sam Cassell
Key losses: Marco Jaric
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors we?re a good team towards the latter part of last season. Baron Davis, when healthy is a devastating offensive player. Troy Murphy is proving to be a good NBA player. Even with last season?s improvements, I don?t see the Warriors making it out of the Southwest basement.
Key additions: Ike Diogu, Monta Ellis
Key loses: n/a
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs will win the title again this season. You heard it here first. Not only did they get Nick Van Exel, but they also picked up Michael Finley! If Tim Duncan stays healthy, David Stern can start polishing the rings tomorrow.
Key additions: Michael Finley, Nick Van Exel
Key losses: Devin Brown
The Rockets are deep at the guard spots, maybe even too deep. Rafer Alston was an interesting acquisition. Can he accept his role as a pass-first point guard and get it down low to Yao Ming? We could see an all Texas Western final with Houston and San Antonio.
Key additions: Derek Anderson, Rafer Alston
Key losses: Mike James, Clarence Weatherspoon
The Grizz were part of that huge trade that sent Jason Williams and James Posey to Miami. In return, they picked up Eddie Jones, who is a nice player, but not nice enough to dramatically improve the team. They lost Earl Watson, but picked up Damon Stoudamire and Bobby Jackson. They?ll be a good team, but not good enough to make much noise in the West.
Key additions: Eddie Jones, Damon Stoudamire, Bobby Jackson
Key losses: Earl Watson, Jason Williams, James Posey
The Mavs are sliding and have been for the past few seasons. The Mavs didn?t make much noise this off-season, but they will be good if Dirk can step up his game. How long before Mark Cuban blows it up?
Key additions: Doug Christie
Key losses: Michael Finley
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Even with the drafting of Chris Paul, the Hornets aren?t much improved this off-season. It?s just a matter of time before the Hornets are relocated again. Can?t wait to see Chris Andersen in the dunk contest this year!
Key additions: Chris Paul, Rasual Butler
Key losses: n/a
The Raptors opened the Toronto portion of this year?s training camp at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
All Raptors — new, old and hopeful — were honing their skills as Coach Sam Mitchell and GM Rob Babcock surveyed the situation. Among those hopefuls looking for a roster spot is Robert Pack.
Pack, a 13-year NBA veteran, had a good shot of making the team just over a week ago, but that was before Toronto?s volatile point guard, Rafer Alston, was traded to Houston for the steady-handed Mike James.
With Alston at the helm, the Raptors were in desperate need of veteran leadership at the guard position. Even though James? inclusion would appear to fill the role Pack was looking to man, Pack has remained positive.
?I haven?t let the trade affect how I?ve gone out and worked,? he said. ?I?m here to fight for this job and that hasn?t changed.?
Fighting for survival is something he is indeed used to. In one of the greatest moments in NBA history, Pack?s eight-seeded Denver Nuggets upset Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton?s first-placed Seattle Sonics in the 1994 NBA playoffs. Making the cut this time around might prove to be as difficult an undertaking.
With age comes a reduction in one?s ability to play professional sports, but it also brings valuable insight. Pack?s seen it all in the NBA, and he likes what he sees in Raptors? star forward Chris Bosh.
?Chris has the potential to be one of the better forwards to ever play the game,? he said, without a moment?s hesitation.
These are strong words from a man who has played alongside many great, big men in his time, including Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett and Dikeme Mutombo (his front-court ally in the toppling of the Sonics in those memorable ?94 playoffs). To include Bosh with the all-time bests of the NBA speaks volumes about how much Bosh?s game has developed in his two short years.
Pack also spoke highly of Toronto?s rookie tandem, Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham.
?They?re good players,? he said. ?They are adjusting to the level of intensity (that comes with NBA competition), but the ability is definitely there, and it?s showing. It showed all last week in practice and (it showed) in the scrimmage.?
With cuts on the way, Pack?s fate with the Raptors remains to be seen. But with hurricane Katrina having ravaged his hometown of New Orleans, he?s willing to go wherever it takes in order to help his loved-ones get back on their feet.
?(Whether in the NBA) or overseas, I still want to play the game,? he says, ?and I?ll fight for it.?
- Despite dropping 20 pounds, Rafael Araujo has looked very unimpressive thus far. Infact, Toree Morris has looked as good, if not better, than Araujo.
- Corey Williams is walking a thin line between confidence and cockiness. He thinks he can be a starting point guard on this team. Also quoted as saying, “I’m as talented as anyone on this team”
- Pape Sow pulled a groin muscle the other day, but is fighting through it
- Joey Graham and Charlie Villanueva are looking good. Chris Bosh is looking great
- Jose Calderon is adjusting well and threw a really nice alley-oop in the scrimmage
- Mike James is shooting the ball well
- Toree Morris had a nasty spill comming down from a rebound, but has battled through and continues to work hard
Photo Credit: Joe Murphy, NBA
Rob Babcock, general manager of the Toronto Raptors, was recently quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying, “I think if you look at us on paper, we probably will not win as many games as last year.”
For those in the know, that quote wasn?t anything but an admission on reality. For the media that would rather cover hockey and the fair-weather fans they influence, it was a shocking and damning statement.
It certainly didn?t help matters that the Toronto Sun decided to run with the salacious title, ?We?ve got no chance,? despite the fact that at no point during the article did Babcock utter those words.
Within hours, Raptors? fans were calling for Babcock?s head on radio call-in shows. Bob McCown, an incessantly annoyed broadcaster for the FAN 590, fielded many of those calls and, to my surprise, agreed full-heartedly and continued to rip the Raps? GM.
I?m by no means a member of the Rob Babcock fan club (should such a thing even exist), but this issue needs to be laid to rest. Babcock admitted to the obvious reality of the Raptors? current situation. Does that warrant all this attention?
The Raptors have six players with a combined 3 years of NBA experience slated to play heavy minutes this season: Rafael Araujo, Pop Sow, Matt Bonner, Joey Graham, Charlie Villanueva and Jose Calderon.
Knowing the roster is full of inexperienced players and aging malcontents, you don?t have to be a brain surgeon to understand the team might not surpass last season?s win total? which, in itself, is a reason some might get on Babcock?s case (should you ignore the fact that he?s still in the process of cleaning up the mess former GM Glen Grunwald left behind).
A major concern voiced by a lot of broadcasters has been how this might affect ticket sales. It?s accurate to say that those comments certainly won?t help sell tickets, but what?s the alternative? Should Babcock lie and promise a winning team in order to pad season ticket sales? I personally believe the team?s on-court performance will be the deciding factor in how fans spend their money.
This defence of Babcock?s comments is in no way a defence for his entire campaign as Raptors? GM.
The Vince Carter trade was a difficult situation. Babcock had a talented player, when motivated, but a player who was constantly injured and went to the media with his desire to be traded. In situations like that, trades often look lop-sided. Babcock did, however, receive some decent picks in the trade?so when it?s all said and done, it might not look that bad.
The only real blunders on Babcock?s record are not trading Donyell Marshall at last year?s trade deadline and the drafting of Rafael Araujo.
Araujo might turn into a serviceable back-up centre, but that?s not enough for an eight overall pick. I recall a conversation with Bill Harris, a columnist with the Sun, early into Araujo?s rookie season. Harris noted that a best case scenario for Araujo might be playing a role similar to former Raptor Eric Montross. At the time, I was still hopeful Araujo could adjust to the NBA game and work himself into a double-double player in a few years? now that assessment is looking more and more accurate.
Even with those roster mistakes and his controversial comments, Babcock has made positive strides in turning this team around. The Raptors aren?t going to turn into a playoff contender overnight?that?s a reality we should all start getting used to.
The Toronto Raptors? 41st overall pick in this year?s draft, Roko Ukic, has signed a deal with Tau Ceramica, according to reports on a Croatian basketball website.
Tau Ceramica, an incredibly wealthy team in the Spanish League, is a name that might sound familiar to you? and here?s why. The Raptors have also been involved in talks with its current start point guard, Jose Calderon.
According to various European sources, Calderon has been heavily pursued by the Raptors, among others, and his impending departure is the reason why they went after Ukic in the first place.
Ukic?s decision to bam-Boozer (referring, of course, to Carlos Boozer?s dealings with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year) the Raptors is a blow to basketball fans across the country. They had been sold on Ukic by commercials on Raptors? NBA TV and lavished praise of his flashy, up-tempo game.
The degree of irony involved (the Raptors interest in Calderon forcing Tau to pursue Ukic) adds a considerable amount of egg onto this franchise?s omelet of a face.
Even more frustrating would be if Tau Ceramica managed to re-sign Calderon as well. That would leave the Raptors with no back-up point guards and a considerably embarrassing situation.
It seems General Manager Rob Babcock not only has problems keeping pace with NBA GM?s? but European ones as well.