Colangelo runs show

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

The dictionary describes the word "autonomy" as practical independence with nominal subordination.

Bryan Colangelo, president and general manager of the Raptors, explains autonomy this way: "I have the autonomy to operate the basketball team. But I do report to the board (of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.) when it comes to a coaching change or when I contemplate a major player deal, so that they don't find themselves with major surprises. That's when I need the approval of the board. Richard (Peddie) is my conduit to the board and I keep him informed."

Colangelo told me these things at the time when the ACC was overrun with hordes of media people, all wanting to hear details of the firing of Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., and the hiring of veteran hockey executive Cliff Fletcher as interim GM, followed by a stint as adviser.

We sat in Bryan's office, watching the press conferences on television and I noticed Colangelo squirming in his chair when Fletcher suggested that he was looking at hiring a future Maple Leafs GM in the mold of Colangelo. The basketball genius is not fond of praise.

Did he learn about the definition of autonomy from his father at Phoenix.

He took a bite from his sandwich, chortled and said: "When I was 28, I watched my dad run the show. The day I turned 29, he told me that I was now ready to take over from him. I kidded him that he was pushing me to the forefront so I take the arrows shot at us."

And how did he accept Toronto's offer?

"When I first got the call from Toronto, I discussed it with Richard (Peddie). I knew right off the bat that I would be interested (under certain conditions)," he said.

"One of my condition was that Wayne Embry would be kept on, which was actually a relief for them. Then we discussed autonomy and reached an agreement.

"These days, as for our position in the standings, I'm not contented. However, the facts are that we lost Chris Bosh for a few games, T.J. Ford for a large portion of the season and we now don't have Jorge Garbajosa because of injury. He's not likely to return this season. I remember when Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni once told me that Garbajosa is not his best player, but that the team wins because of him being part of the team."

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