Senior man may be right man for Raps
By Bill LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun
Jack McCloskey is 78 years old. He doesn't have a lot of time to waste.
In that regard, he is a lot like the Raptors franchise that has hired him as interim general manager in charge of finding a clue ... not to mention his full-time replacement.
In the zany world of Raptorville, the organization says there's no hurry finding a new GM. But the guy in charge of finding one says it needs to happen now.
"I may be stepping out of line saying this," McCloskey said, cocking a mischievous eye toward the Raptors brain trust at a media gathering yesterday. "But I could get it (the appointment of a new GM) done in an hour. I have a guy on the list I believe is the best."
His bride of 30 years, back home in Georgia on Skidaway Island (and isn't that an apt address for a Raptors employee), already has warned him that "guy" better not be named Jack McCloskey. He already has been warned about doing a Jack McKeon or a Hubie Brown.
So, let the guessing begin. The "guy" is a former player, McCloskey, who has experience, McCloskey says. He could be talking about Doc Rivers. He says he has presented team bosses with a list of five candidates and that vice-president Richard Peddie has "some people" they would like to interview as well.
It could be Bill Laimbeer.
Whomever is hired will be entrusted with the fate of an entire franchise. With a shrinking fan base, there is no more room for error.
And nobody knows that more than McCloskey who admits watching the Raptors lately has hurt.
"Oh, gawd," he said of the past few games, "I was very disappointed ... they're a better team than that."
Let us count the problems. There has been a lack of motivation, poor leadership and, McCloskey said, lack of focus.
"In every game there are times when you lose focus, I see it in practice here, too, and that's when you've got to get it back. I remember Vinnie Johnson used to count the number of times they would beat the No. 1 team in practice ... and he would let 'em know. That's toughness. That's leadership," McCloskey said.
That is what the Raptors, aside from "two big men and help at the point guard" need. Oh, yeah, and it wouldn't hurt if Vince Carter acted more like a leader.
"He may not (be)," McCloskey said. "Maybe someone else has to take over (that role)."
There. Finally someone has said it. On the other hand, McCloskey said he could see building around Carter and Chris Bosh.
"Absolutely. If you're going to make a big step you need two stars and Vince is a star. Chris may not be a star but he's close ... he's a tough, skinny guy."
So, what is the solution? What is McCloskey looking for in the new GM?
"All of the people on the list are in the NBA. He has to have basketball knowledge, understand the cap ... be a good communicator, a good scout and someone who has played."
Funny, but the Raptors already have a guy with all those qualifications. The guy's initials are J.M.
Okay, the birth certificate says it is ridiculous. The Raptors say he's not a candidate. Wife Leslie has told him not even to think about it -- which, of course, means he has done precisely that.
"I can't quit. I want another one of these," he said, flashing Ring No. 2 from his days as bossman of the Pistons.
So, Jack, if the Raptors offered you the job tomorrow, would you take it? The question comes as he and team executives head back to more meetings. His face lights up. His eyes twinkle, he pauses ... and pauses ... and, you know.
"When I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. and rolled over and kissed my wife I said, 'this is going to be exciting.'
"But it really wouldn't be fair to her."
Funny thing, though. He didn't say no.
The Raptors could do worse. And have. I mean, last time a team around here hired a guy who wasn't a candidate the Blue Jays wound up winning two World Series. But, it's probably just a coincidence.