One of the most frustrating things about the sports media and fans is the way that we are all experts after the fact. Insightful comments such as ‘they really screwed up there’, ‘I told you they shouldn’t have made that move’ and ‘what were they thinking?’ are commonplace for people with the amazing gift of hindsight.
I mention this because I cannot believe how much bad press Bryan Colangelo is receiving at the moment. Apparently he has made numerous bone-headed moves, is ruining the franchise and as such, now has only a precariously hold on his position within the club.
Whenever the man in charge makes a change on their roster, there are only ever going to be two outcomes; either it will work out or it won’t. There is never a case where every move made will be a success. Everyone makes mistakes and yet this does not stop the criticism in the world of professional (or indeed college) sports by people who can only dream of being talented enough to hold such a position.
The fans and media in Toronto really do have short memories if they truly believe that Colangelo is making the team irrelevant in respect of the rest of the NBA, something that was the case before he arrived in 2006 when they hadn’t been to the playoffs for three seasons.
By the end of 2005-06, the streak would extend to four years, although this could hardly be blamed on Colangelo, who had been in the job just two months. However, since then, the team has made the playoffs twice in four seasons, (including their first ever divisional title) and barely missed the post season on a third occasion.
If the Toronto public knew in advance that this would be the return from four years with Colangelo in charge, they would have considered this to be a minor success. To argue otherwise is purely a lie based on the lack of accomplishments for the Raptors franchise as a whole since they debuted in 1995.
As has been mentioned previously, the only decision that Colangelo can really be held accountable for is the mistaken belief that Chris Bosh was a franchise player. However, all of the moves he made to surround the now former Raptor with the appropriate supporting cast can hardly warrant the current barrage of criticism and indeed may have worked if Bosh had been a franchise type player.
The difference in the public reaction both immediately after certain moves and then further down the line could not be more different. For example, people may now criticise the move to bring in Hedo Turkoglu but no one could have known that he would turn out to have such a negative impact within the roster on the way to averaging his lowest scoring output in six seasons.
This was a player who had produced 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game over the two previous seasons for the Orlando Magic and had been one of the main stars as the team made a surprising run to the 2009 NBA Finals.
Another example is the condemnation of the huge salary that Jose Calderon commands, saying that he can only produce against second units and should never have been awarded the contract. And yet all anyone talked about previously was his impressive assist to turnover ratio.
I can still remember the clamouring for the Spaniard to take over the starting point guard job full-time when he was sharing the position with T.J. Ford. Fans everywhere rejoiced when Ford was traded away and Calderon signed his current deal to secure his future with the franchise.
Turning to the Jermaine O’Neal acquisition, admittedly this was always a high-risk, high reward scenario. Unfortunately when these types of gambles go wrong, it is always going to be viewed as a spectacular failure. And yet, at the time it was seen as a bold and daring move that, together with Bosh, could herald the second coming of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
One of the best things about Colangelo is that at least he will admit if things are not going right and then do his best to rectify the situation. This is evidenced by getting rid of O’Neal after only half a season and backed up further by the recent trade of Turkoglu. Surely this is better than having an executive who stubbornly refuses to accept anything is wrong.
People may feel that the Raptors would be better off without Colangelo, but the truth is, he gives the team more clout within the NBA. Competing as the only team based in Canada is tough enough, but to get rid of the 2005 and 2007 Executive of the Year would be a big mistake.
Indeed, not having to pay the departed Bosh the big bucks allows the team to start over without the financial handicap of a max deal contract hanging over their heads. This will be a huge breath of fresh air for the former Phoenix Suns general manager and if anything, it is only now that we should start to scrutinize him as he attempts to take the Raptors to new heights.
Stay tuned as its about to get very interesting for fans in Southern Ontario.