They say you don't have to worry about something you haven't done for a long time because it's just like riding a bicycle -- you never forget.
Well, the last time I played competitive basketball was some 56 years ago. And I can count on one hand the number of times I have written a column on basketball. Moreover, I can't remember the last time this occurred.
Nonetheless, something in Toronto basketball caught my attention recently. So, I'm going to try to ride the bicycle again and write a column on basketball.
Things get worse for me when I have to state up front that I have never watched Rafael Araujo play because he rarely is on the court and I rarely have seen the Raptors play. Still, this column is about him or, more exactly, what should be done with him.
In my recent conversations, it has become clear to me that three things currently exist surrounding Araujo's status. First, he was the Raptors No. 1 draft choice (No. 8 overall) before last season. Second, he is not ready to play substantial successful minutes in the NBA. Third, general manager Rob Babcock doesn't appear to want to send Araujo to the Raptors' shared development league team for seasoning.
To listen to others, Babcock's hesitation in sending Araujo to the developmental league is based on the belief that Babcock does not wish to show us he made a mistake using his top choice to draft a centre who is not ready for prime NBA action.
I have a couple of pieces of news for Babcock. The first is that it is far worse to perpetuate a mistake through inaction than it is to admit the mistake and try to correct it. Without doubt, Araujo would receive a substantial amount of quality minutes every game in the developmental league that would, in all likelihood, greatly accelerate his learning curve, give him lots of important experience and, last but not least, provide him with a much-needed confidence boost.
The second piece of news is that Babcock might take a page and learn from another Toronto sports franchise which had a somewhat similar problem a few seasons ago and acted decisively and in the best interest of both the player and the organization.
The Blue Jays thought they had an ace pitcher in Roy (Doc) Halladay. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, Halladay completely lost his confidence and came apart at the seams (no pun intended) as a a major league pitcher. The Jays' brain trust thought it through and sent Halladay down to the minors -- a long way down to the minors -- to allow him to work through his mechanical and confidence problems in the hopes of getting him to where they thought he could and should be.
Toronto baseball fans are well aware of what a huge and successful turning point that move was in Halladay's career and in the Blue Jays' fortunes.
It is not Araujo's fault he was made a No. 1 choice and it is not his fault that the expectation the selection brings in the fans' minds has led to their incessant booing of him. Araujo is a big man. Babcock could become an even bigger man by doing what is best for the lad -- and ultimately the team -- which means sending him to the developmental league for some much needed tutoring.
There's no need to be surprised by the successful defensive record of the Montreal Canadiens. After all, their general manager is former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and defensive specialist Bob Gainey. He knows how to handle opposing forwards ... A caring reader, Mary Bobinac, sent along a heart-warming letter and a cheque for $100 for the Toronto Sun Variety Village Christmas Fund. Please keep the donations coming.
VARIETY VILLAGE FUND DONATIONS
Anthony Orser $100.00
Frank Smith $25.00
Jim Gegeny $5.00
Kevin, Heidi and Melista Bahler $15.00
Edith Bell and
James Smith $25.00
Gordon Calhoun $36.50
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Mike O'Hearn $25.00
Garry Lummis $40.00
Stew MacDonald $15.00
Total to date $1,992.50