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  Tue, January 27, 2004


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No Grizzled rookies

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

It's a good thing for the Raptors that they aren't rivals with the Grizzlies anymore, because the Grizzlies would be kicking major butt.

And Lord knows how they would be defiling the Naismith Cup in Memphis.

The Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies never had an on-court rivalry, but they always were measured against each other because they entered the NBA together in 1995. The link essentially was severed when the Grizzlies moved to Memphis from Vancouver in 2001, but Canadians who still follow the Raptors' expansion cousins can take pleasure in the fact the Grizzlies are the hottest team in the league.

They've never won more than 28 games in a season, but the Grizzlies currently are 25-18 and have won a franchise-record eight games in a row. If the season ended today, the Grizzlies actually would be a playoff team in the powerful Western Conference.

"I'm not going to lie, I look at the standings every day," Grizzlies guard Jason Williams said.

With a solid starting five that includes Williams, Mike Miller, James Posey, Lorenzen Wright and the multi-talented Pao Gasol, as well as a strong bench contingent in recent acquisition Bonzi Wells, Stromile Swift, Bo Outlaw and Shane Battier, it's not like coach Hubie Brown doesn't have talent with which to work. But just about every team is talented in the West, so the trick is putting it all together, playing with consistency and not being intimidated.

"January and February are the dog days of the NBA," Brown said. "This is the hardest period of time. This is where you can make a move and steal games. But you have to work hard, maximize potential and play perfect games against the real good teams. If you do that, you have a chance to move further than anyone expected."

Swift is the club's only holdover from the Vancouver days.

"It's good just to be a part of this," Swift said. "Three years ago it was something for us to win 20 games. Now we're thinking about much more. All I know is we're a different team than in the past."

So different, in fact, that the only thing Vancouverites would recognize is the colour of the uniforms.

PAYBACK WITH INTEREST

Here's an interesting possibility as to why New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas treated coach Don Chaney so shabbily on the day he was fired, allowing Chaney to run the morning shootaround but then axing him a couple of hours before tipoff that night: Some say Thomas has held a grudge against Chaney for a decade, dating back to when Chaney was the coach of the Detroit Pistons and Thomas was a player in the twilight of his career.

On basketball boxscores the term DNP-CD is a common one. It stands for "did not play, coach's decision," and it appears beside the names of players who were in uniform and available for action but never got on the court. Jerome Moiso of the Raptors, for example, has DNP-CD written after his name practically all the time.

Anyway, Thomas had only one DNP-CD in his entire illustrious playing career. And guess who gave it to him? Chaney.

It was in the 1993-94 season, Thomas's last, when Chaney sat Thomas in favour of rookie Lindsey Hunter, a future Raptor. Chaney told reporters Thomas was hurt. A fuming Thomas told reporters that was a load of crap and stubbornly forced Pistons officials to write DNP-CD beside his name.

It took 10 years, but Thomas got his revenge.

BUZZER BEATERS

The Utah Jazz held a retro night recently and owner Larry Miller showed up wearing those skin-tight, 1980s-style short-shorts. Miller wandered into the locker room before the game modelling the Jazz uniform he was given as a souvenir when he bought the team in 1985. It may have fit him back then, but, well, not so much now. "Put me in, coach," Miller bellowed, prompting laughter. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Miller used to scrimmage in halfcourt games against Jazz players back in the '80s. "(Miller) really could play back then," Sloan said. "Now he just dresses up." ... Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy on recent Rockets signee Mark Jackson, a former Raptor: "You arguably could say he's a Hall of Fame player, but he probably is as slow laterally as any human who ever has played in the NBA." Jackson did not disagree: "Since I was a kid, I knew I was slower than everybody else on the floor. I was never going to out-run or out-jump anybody, so I had to out-think them." ... A bustling crowd of 30 was on hand outside the Continental Airlines Arena on Sunday to protest the New Jersey Nets' proposed move to Brooklyn. No word on whether it was the same 30 people who usually attend Nets home games.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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