In The Scrum With Jacque Vaughn

Jacque Vaughn chatted with the media about rookie point guard Elfrid Payton, the growth of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and matching up against the Toronto Raptors twice in less than two weeks.

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Dwane Casey Explains How DeMar DeRozan Has Evolved As A Player

Dwane Casey raved to the media how DeMar DeRozan has evolved as a player the past few seasons.

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Podcap: Toronto Pulls Off A Magic Trick And Steals A Win From Orlando

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson after Toronto’s miraculous 104-100 win over Orlando.

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Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Orlando 104-100

Here are 11 observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Orlando 104-100:

  • Lucas Nogueira was in a great mood after the game and borrowed a reporters recorder for a mock interview with Greg Stiemsma. Also worth noting is Nogueira was rocking the purple shirt fans were given at the game last Friday.
  • Dwane Casey: “We can’t be annoyed when teams come out and give us their best shot.”
  • Greivis Vasquez and Terrence Ross appear to be in a battle to see who has the flashiest kicks. Both players had bright neon kicks in their lockers.
  • Speaking of kicks, you probably can’t tell on TV that Vasquez takes a Sharpie to his shoes and writes motivational stuff on ‘em. Pretty cool, though.
  • Vasquez on Toronto’s defence tonight: “I think our focus wasn’t there and that’s on the players. We should have been more focused. It was a test for our character and we got the win, but it wasn’t pretty.”
  • Patrick Patterson wasn’t happy with Toronto’s effort on the defensive end tonight: “For the first half, pretty much the first three quarters, I thought the lack of effort was pretty much shown throughout those time periods. Our inability to communicate meant we couldn’t stop them in transition or from getting easy buckets in the paint and at the perimeter when they were shooting 3’s. We know they are a 3-point shooting team and a transition team, but, with that being said, we were unable to follow the scouting report.”
  • Orlando shot better from beyond the arc (48%) than Toronto did from the field (45.5%). Ouch.
  • Dwane Casey explained what Orlando did to slow down DeMar DeRozan: “They changed up matchups. They were bringing two and a half guys over on him. (Nikola) Vucevic wasn’t really double teaming, but he was meeting DeMar halfway. It made it tough on DeMar. The good thing about it is he found people and he moved the ball. He started passing the ball and then when we got him in some good mid-screen rolls and that really helped us in that situation.”
  • Dwane Casey on the game being too quick for Jonas Valanciunas: “Yeah, when they had (Channing) Frye at the five and (Tobias) Harris at the four, yeah, it was really quick. That’s one of the reasons why he put Patrick Patterson at the five and James (Johnson) at the four and tried to match down to them. That helped us because they came out and were pushing the ball down the floor and they really pushed the tempo on us. That’s one of those things where I thought we had to go to a smaller lineup.”
  • Valanciunas was openly mocked by his teammates for his choice in shirts. Personally, I admire a man who is confident enough to wear a shirt covered with bright pink flowers…
  • Vasquez: “We need to remember we are nobody in this league just yet.”

Ex-Toronto Raptor Alvin Robertson Facing Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking Charge

Brendan Kennedy
Displayed with permission from Toronto Star

By the time Alvin Robertson sunk the first basket in Toronto Raptors history — a 25-foot, three-point jumper — he already had a lengthy rap sheet and a lousy reputation.

The former defensive stalwart for the San Antonio Spurs arrived in Toronto saddled with baggage both on and off the court, ranging from fights with teammates and coaches to criminal charges related to multiple domestic violence incidents, bar fights and a bizarre burglary.

His recruitment to the fledgling team had already raised eyebrows when just days before starting in the Raptors’ inaugural game, Robertson was arrested and charged with assaulting a pregnant ex-girlfriend at the SkyDome hotel. The case was later dropped when the woman refused to testify.

“The things I’ve done in the past, I hoped it wouldn’t start all over again in Canada,” Robertson lamented to reporters back then, as if he was pursued by his own transgressions.

In fact, Robertson’s personal troubles only worsened in the ensuing years: criminal mischief, harassment, more violence. A rape charge was tossed, but he spent a year in jail when a judge ruled he had breached his probation — from the 1996 burglary — and had “more likely than not” committed the sexual assault.

Now 52, he is facing the most serious allegations of his life and the prospect of spending his remaining years behind bars. In February 2010, Robertson was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and conspiring with others to force her into prostitution. He had a court appearance Monday, but a trial isn’t expected for several more months.

Robertson — who lives in San Antonio, where the crimes are alleged to have occurred — denies the charges against him and has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

“These allegations have been, like, the all-time worst,” he told Bleacher Report this month. “I really don’t have any involvement with it. . . . This has really, really killed me. Just killed me.”

“It’s hard for me to believe that he has these charges against him,” Glen Grunwald, the former Raptors GM who was vice-president of legal affairs during Robertson’s short tenure with the team, told the Star on Monday. “He was always easy to talk to and intelligent and well-spoken and well-behaved when he was in Toronto, except for (the alleged SkyDome hotel assault).”

Robertson was never punished by the NBA during his 10-year career, which ended in Toronto. Chances are if he had faced the same charges today — in this post-Ray Rice professional sports climate — he likely would have dealt with some measure of internal discipline from the league or the teams he played on.

With regard to the alleged hotel assault, the Raptors said at the time that Robertson should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and would continue to play while the court process unfolded. Grunwald said he couldn’t remember the specifics of the team’s decision-making process back then. But he remembered Robertson as a “tough” and “competitive” player and recalled seeing him in San Antonio in 1997 or ’98, a year or two after he left the team. “He seemed to be doing okay. He had his construction business.”

That business reportedly fell apart amid Robertson’s legal and financial troubles.

On the court, Robertson was the best kind of nasty. The four-time all-star led the league in steals on three occasions. He’s also one of just four players to record a quadruple double (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals). He is the NBA’s all-time leader in steals per game.

Prior to this latest, most serious arrest, Robertson’s lawyer, Brent Delapaz, said his client had put his criminal past behind him. According to Delapaz, Robertson was in negotiations with Wal-Mart regarding a basketball instructional video that would be sold in stores.

“I think it’s safe to say he had turned a new page in his life and was doing well — until this.”

Delapaz, like Robertson himself, insists he is innocent. He says Robertson’s loyalty to old friends has led him to be unduly caught up in this case and that he is being targeted because of his high profile.

Since being released on bail, Robertson — who has three children — has been forced to wear a GPS tracker on his ankle and is subject to monitored work release and other bail conditions, with which he has struggled to adhere. This year alone he has violated his conditions on three occasions.

There have been some “misunderstandings with procedures,” Delapaz said, but Robertson has done his best to comply with the orders.

“He’s ready for his day in court. He’s anxious to clear his name.”

Podcast: Buckle Up For Another Wild NBA Season

McNeill and Cheel talked about a wild start to the NBA season, Anthony Davis being in beast mode, Carmelo Anthony’s legacy, Ed Davis talking smack to Charles Barkley and rumors of Kevin Love opting out of his contract this summer.

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Catching Up With Rick Barry

I had the chance to chat with Hall of Fame basketball player Rick Barry about the highlights from his career, his legendary performance in the 1967 NBA Finals, why he loves watching the San Antonio Spurs and his involvement with Ektio shoes.

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“Off The Dribble” Pilot

I’m excited to announce that I’m co-hosting a basketball show on Extra Peterborough 90.5 with Jordan Mercier. We recorded the pilot this afternoon and we are hoping to get the green light to make this a weekly show starting next week.

A big thanks to legendary Toronto Raptors beat writer Doug Smith for being our first guest.

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Podcap: Toronto Beats Washington 103-84

Here’s audio from Amir Johnson, Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross after Toronto’s 103-84 win over Washington.

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Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Washington 103-84

Here are eight observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Washington 103-84:

  • Amir Johnson was limping through the locker room with his injured ankle secured with a tensor bandage, yet he still had a huge smile on his face. it’s amazing what a big win can do for a players emotions. Despite the setback in the second half tonight, after the game Johnson told the media that he’s hopeful of being able to play on Sunday against Philadelphia.
  • DeMar DeRozan was rocking this epic shirt while talking with the media.
  • Actually, speaking of emotions, this was the most jovial the locker room has been all season. Players were ribbing each other and the atmosphere was upbeat. In fact, Terrence Ross had a tough time getting through his media scrum because he was getting ribbed by teammates and even some members of media from across the locker room.
  • Amir Johnson has been using a shuttle board this week to work on his ankle and help with his range of motion.
  • Ross bristled briefly and appeared flustered when he was asked what it was like matching up against Paul Pierce again. His teammates, however, howled as the question was asked. My assumption is Ross took that playoff series against Brooklyn to heart and there’s a chip on his shoulder to prove he can stop Pierce. Mission accomplished tonight as Pierce was held to eight points while going 3-11 from the field.
  • DeMar DeRozan on wearing the purple jersey tonight: “Oh, man. It meant a lot. Especially to me as a kid who was amazed with the jersey.”
  • Derozan wasn’t the only fan of the purple jerseys as Amir Johnson gushed to the media: “I grew up loving those (purple) jerseys so it was an honour to wear ‘em tonight.”
  • Greivis Vasquez doesn’t only dish out assists on the court. After the game, James Johnson recruited Vasquez to give him a hand buttoning up the wrist buttons on his shirt.

Skee-Lo Performs “I Wish” At Halftime Of A Toronto Raptors Game

Skee-Lo performed his classic song “I Wish” during halftime of a Toronto Raptors game.

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Dwane Casey Compares The Toronto Raptors To Seabiscuit

Dwane Casey was in rare form tonight while comparing the Toronto Raptors and their slow starts to Seabiscuit.

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Podcap: Raptors Hold On To Beat Thunder 100-88

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Patrick Patterson, Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry after Toronto’s 100-88 win over Oklahoma City.

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Observations From Raptors’ Locker Room After Beating Thunder 100-88

Here are five observations, notes and quotes from the Toronto Raptors locker room after the team beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-88:

  • Amir Johnson was rocking a black OVO jacket that was also Canada Goose. Impressive. Also impressive – and very Canadian – was the lumberjack look Lou Williams was rocking with a red flannel shirt.
  • Lou Williams was struggling to unplug his phone charger from the top shelf in his locker. He had to get Chuck Hayes to give him a hand. #ShortGuyProblems
  • It never fails to amaze me what finely-tuned athletes eat. After the game Patrick Patterson was scarfing down some Pizza Pizza. I shouldn’t judge as I ate some myself before the game… but sat in front of my MacBook pro instead of burning calories while playing 35 minutes.
  • Dwane Casey wasn’t impressed with the defensive effort from his team: “Sometime this year we are going to find some defence from somebody, somewhere. I don’t know when, but we are going to find it.”
  • Kyle Lowry was in an ornery mood after the game and wasn’t too chatty with the media. I kept waiting for him to break into a Rasheed Wallace inspired, “both teams played hard.”