The NBA pre-season is upon us and hope springs eternal for 30 teams. Can't wait. How time flies. I'm starting my 16th year as a Toronto Raptors broadcaster and this is my sixth year with TSN. I feel very fortunate to be involved in the sport I love and to have the opportunity to be part of it in a lot less stressful way than my previous career as a coach. It's fun and you folks with your passion for hoops make it awesome. Thanks for your support and look forward to enjoying lots of great basketball moments together in 2013-14 and beyond. Let's quickly touch on a few NBA topics.
1. Glen Grunwald (Knicks): Totally bizarre that he was removed as GM. He did a better than good job there in his roles with the organization. Very strange but in the world of owner James Dolan, nothing shocks me. Feel for Grunwald; good basketball man who is very low key. Don't be fooled by his quiet demeanor, he's a sharp guy and very competitive. I know that life is unfair but this is a time where you just shake your head and feel awful for a guy. Steve Mills is the new president & GM; a stunning return to MSG for him. One of those moments where you say to yourself, 'You can't make this nonsense up!'
2. Derriok Rose (Bulls): Thrilled that he's healthy and back practicing with his team. If there is one guy (if 100 per cent healthy) that can dramatically change the makeup of the Eastern Conference, it's this guy. Impact guy with explosive ability. The Miami Heat are obviously the team to beat with the Pacers, Nets and Knicks all in the hunt. Rose will put the Bulls right back in the elite discussion again if it all works out and I'm cool with that. It's great for the sport.
3. Erik Spoelstra (Heat): Outstanding move by owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley to get him locked up on a long-term deal. He fits the organizational approach/mindset of the Heat exactly and is an outstanding young coach. Stability is crucial to any good franchise and the coaching leadership is paramount. He's proven himself to me time and time again as a guy who is one of the elite rising coaches in the game today.
4. Channing Frye (Suns): Reports out of Phoenix are that he's close to coming back after missing last season with heart ailment. Good for him. Have always liked his ability as a stretch perimeter guy and is a team player who gives it his all. Any time you can have a floor spacer like Frye on the court it helps dramatically with the flow/spacing and efficiency of your offense. Hopefully, it works out for him.
5. Toronto 2016 NBA All-Star Game and Drake: Lots of news out of Toronto with the announcement of the 2016 NBA All Star game and Drake's involvement with the Raptors. I've been saying for years that getting the All-Star Weekend is a good thing for Toronto and will be a nice opportunity for the organization and city to showcase itself as a place that has amazing potential (it does!) as a viable NBA destination as well as (if run properly) a place where a franchise can be a significant player (it can be!) in the NBA landscape. The involvement of Drake doesn't hurt one bit. We're in the recruitment and retention business. If he can even help a little bit with the recruitment of a player and/or helping a current player who is on the fence about life as an NBA Player in Toronto stick with his commitment, then why not try it. Worth a shot. In my 16 Years doing this in Toronto, I've seen more than my fair share of the attempts to 'win press conferences' with the glitz and glitter and then Day 2 and beyond, it fizzles. Never confuse activity for achievement. Sooner or later, as the Raptors start Year 19 in the NBA, you've got to see results and those results on a consistent basis. If this helps that, wonderful. Let it rip. All for it. At the end of the day, all fans want is the durable, solid level of success/results of teams like the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots, St. Louis Cardinals and the New Jersey Devils. Substance ultimately overrules style. In the words of Al Davis, 'Just Win Baby!'