Truth Tellers Beware – The REAL reason Sam Mitchell was fired by the Raptors

Two local reporters/writers/journalists who do a solid job covering the day-to-day shenanigans which occur with the Toronto Raptors are Dave Feschuk [Toronto Star] and Michael Grange [Globe and Mail].

According to one vocal on-line source of opinion about the team, Raptoronto, Mr. Grange is apparently someone who is not well-liked by Bryan Colangelo, the President/GM of the Raptors … for reference please see, Team Canada, Comment #8; while the other, Mr. Feschuk, will, most assuredly, draw no bouquets today from the Dino’s Head Office for expressing his sentiments plainly, regarding The State of the Raptors’ Agony:

You have to respect that Jay Triano, the interim head coach in charge of front-of-the-camera optimism, is in a tricky position.

Triano, think about it, has to make daily attempts at explaining a dud of a campaign without trashing the wafer-thin roster that has been assembled by Bryan Colangelo, the resident president and general manager. Repeatedly suggesting that a lack of talent is at the heart of these past couple of years of woe, after all, is one of the key reasons a truth teller named Sam Mitchell got a paid vacation after 17 games. Unlike Mitchell, Triano doesn’t have a multi-million-dollar golden handshake awaiting him if he loses his gig. He has to remain in Colangelo’s favour if there is any chance of him retaining the job come autumn (and there is, make no mistake, a good chance that he will).

And so Triano has turned to some interesting media-scrum topics, speaking as though there’s something to be learned in all this losing other than what we all know – that Toronto needs better players.

“In the grand scheme of things I hate losing, but I sat through loss after loss after loss in Vancouver watching as a broadcaster, and I think that helped me more than watching them win would have,” said Triano.

It must be comforting for fans to know that Triano, when things look destitute, leans on his six years of experience as a radio broadcaster for Vancouver Grizzlies, only the worst-run franchise in NBA history, a team that, in its best season, won 23 games. And if you ever need any game-night advice, Jay, I know a TV technician who sat courtside when Darrell Walker and Butch Carter combined to coach the Raptors to a 16-66 record. Dude has been the second coming of Red Auerbach ever since.

The truth is, Triano has done more than watch the Grizzlies play poorly. He’s a hard-working coach who has been around the NBA a long time. But at least half the head-coaching job, he must know, has nothing to do with all that. It’s about communicating effectively with players and media and fans.

Yesterday wasn’t one of his better days in that regard. Somebody asked Triano, after he had made reference to making notes for next season’s training camp, how he knew he’d even be at training camp.

“If I’m coaching down the street at a high school, I’ve got notes now from an experience this year,” he said. “I’m a coach, so I don’t need to be here. I could be anywhere I want to be.”

That’s not true at all. He can be an NBA head coach here and nowhere else, at least for now. But forgive Triano for spouting balderdash when the questions come fast.

Colangelo being who he is – a guy who doesn’t like to hear a word against what he’s built here – speaking the truth is not an option.

This corner of the net has always had a base affinity with those prepared to risk the ire of others … particularly those in positions of reknown … who may have lost their way, either temporarily or permanently, and ceased to function with The Best Interests of The Team at the core of their purpose.

Accordingly, Mr. Grange and Mr. Feschuk each have earned the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. of yours truly for expressing their opinions and ideas about what’s actually gone on [and gone wrong] with the Raptors this season.

Kudos to both … for doing their jobs well.

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14 Responses to “Truth Tellers Beware – The REAL reason Sam Mitchell was fired by the Raptors”

  1. FLUXLAND Says:

    I rarely, (never) read any Toronto media articles, but that was pretty good.

    What’s the quality of discussion in the comments section like, Khandor?

  2. Raps Fan Says:

    interesting how saying colangelo was the reason this season was lost now is in vogue when so many of us have been saying that for years to the scorn of the online world…

    always have respected Grange, Feschuk has been growing on me.

  3. The AltRaps Blog » Blog Archive » Toronto Raptors Linkage for March 11th from 06:00 to 10:29 Says:

    [...] The REAL reason Sam Mitchell was fired by the Raptors – [...]

  4. khandor Says:


    I rarely [never?] post a comment in the Toronto Star comments section.

    Grange’s blog [and the G & M, in general] is where I post comments on a fairly regular basis. There is usually a range of opinion expressed there … i.e. some with a solid understanding of the NBA Game :-) and some with considerably less than that :-( [where yertu first came across my commentary ;-) ], similar to Forrest Gump’s “Box of Chocolates“.

  5. yertu damkule Says:

    yeah, those were the days…

  6. Ask the leadership coach » khandor’s sports blog » Blog Archive » Truth Tellers Beware - The … Says:

    [...] Lorena posted a noteworthy aricle today onHere’s a small snippetYesterday wasn’t one of his better days in that regard. Somebody asked Triano, after he had made reference to making notes for next season’s training camp, how he knew he’d even be at training camp. “If I’m coaching down the street at a … [...]

  7. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    IMO, those who slag Grange and Feschuk do so because neither one is a kool-aid-drinking-MLSE-propogandist-machine.

    Both do a solid job of writing about what they see and hear and feel coming out of Raptorville on a daily basis.

    Grange has a background in Canadian hoops and Feschuk has displayed a solid understanding of the hardwood world since he hit the big time local/national scene several years ago.

    Even though I might not fully agree with either one’s perspective on a specific topic … IMO, neither is unduely biased and simply “Tells it like it is”, from his unique perspective.

  8. khandor Says:


    Always nice of you to drop by. :-)

  9. dsl Says:

    So, that’s the REAL reason he was fired? Because he talked negatively about his team and their talent? Is that the big payoff we get from reading the article? I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed here. I should certainly hope the guy would get fired for publicly criticizing his boss, the organization, etc…

  10. khandor Says:


    According to you, when did Sam Mitchell do those things? … because that’s not what I saw and heard.

    At the time Coach Mitchell was fired … with a 8-9 W-L record, after consecutive playoff seasons … US media outlets like NBATV … with Ahmad Rashad, Gary Payton and Chris Webber … and TNT’s Inside The NBA … with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley … each came out and said publicly that this move was unjustifiable by the Toronto Raptors organization, as what Sam Mitchell had done to that point in his career while working for the Raptors was completely inconsistent with a decision like this, i.e. to terminate his employment at that moment in time.

    I, for one, am in complete agreement with that perspective.

    The person responsible for the team’s current W-L record is Bryan Colangelo … who still doesn’t quite seem to understand what’s wrong with:

    * Picking Andrea Bargnani No. 1 [overall], in the 2006 NBA Draft
    * Signing Jason Kapono to multi-million dollar contract as an UFA
    * Trading your Starting PG, promoting your Back-up PG, cutting your 3rd-string PG and THEN failing to obtain a credible replacement for your new Starting PG this season
    * Trading for a $21 M/yr player who performs like Jermaine O’Neal
    * Trading the No. 17 [overall] Pick, in the 2008 NBA Draft
    * Buying out a still useful player like Jorge Gorbajosa
    * Firing his head coach after 17 games

    while claiming THIS is “the best team assembled yet, on paper” … under his watch as the GM of the Raptors.

    So … Please go ahead and tell me when exactly Sam Mitchell did those things?

  11. Says:

    Sam Mitchell wasn’t fired because he was vocal about Toronto’s thin roster, he was fired because he used it as an excuse for not being able to get them to buy into his plan. By the end, none of the players had any confidence in him and it showed in their body language in timeouts.

    You can’t keep a coach that doesn’t have the ears of his players.

    It doesn’t help that Mitchell had no concept of defense, whatsoever (not that I think Triano does either). A thin roster will translate, if anything, into less points being scored. But EVERYONE can learn to play adequate defense if the right system is used. Since the Raptors have never had many problems on the offensive end (save maybe rebounding) it’s pretty safe to say that it does fall on coaching.

    I personally was a fan of moving away from Sam Mitchell, however, that was under the assumption that we were going to pick up someone better… not another rookie head coach. Eddie Jordan and his half court Princeton-offense came to mind at the time. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we just replaced one coach with no defensive system with another coach with no offensive system and a broken defensive one.

    Oh to be a Raptors fan.

  12. Says:

    Oh, and with regard to your response to dsl regarding all those “sports analysts” who were saying it was “unjustified”:

    I watched a lot of those people, and all they said about it was that it’s only 17 games in and 8-9 is not bad to start a season. None of those people had watched ANY of the games. They couldn’t state even one detail beyond the Raptor’s record to substantiate their stance. It was actually pretty hilarious watching Kenny try to talk about it and just hearing “8-9 record”/”it’s still early” over and over again for two minutes.

    Like I stated in my previous comment, Sam Mitchell wasn’t fired for his comments or the team’s record. He was fired because no one believed in him anymore. That goes from the top in Colangelo, all the way down to the players. When your star player stays on the court and doesn’t even bother to get into the huddle during a time out, you can be pretty sure that the problem goes deeper than publicly stating the team has a thin roster.

  13. Linkage for Mar 9 2pm to Mar 11 11pm - Raptors Republic Says:

    [...] The REAL reason Sam Mitchell was fired by the Raptors [...]

  14. khandor Says:


    Not sure the reason your comments went into the “spam” section initially. Sorry for the delay in getting to them.


    1. When Bosh didn’t go into the huddle it was NOT necessarily because he had lost faith in Sam Mitchell.

    2. A thin roster will not necessarily translate into less points being scored.

    3. The Raptors have had a problem on the Offensive End for a good while now, which doesn’t exonerate either the management or the coaching of this team for the last few seasons.

    4. Personally, I was in favour of moving away from Sam Mitchell, as well … after the 27-55 W-L record in the 2005-2006 regular season.

    5. Sam Mitchell wasn’t fired for publicly stating that the Raptors had a thin roster this season. Nowhere have I say that, I think.

    According to what Dave Feschuk wrote, however … Bryan Colangelo does not appreciate it when someone in his vacinity actually TELLS THE TRUTH about the state of the Toronto Raptors.

    If anything … that’s the reason Sam Mitchell was fired so abruptly in the aftermath of the Denver Debacle … because he is someone who Tells The Truth … and according to Mr. Feschuk, Bryan Colangelo doesn’t much like to hear THAT about the team he’s built thus far in Raptorville.


    PS. IMO, the TNT & NBATV crews were incredulous that anyone else would simply accept the “rationale” that Bryan Colangelo chose to provide publicly for the firing of Sam Mitchell, and continually came back to the team’s 8-9 W-L record as a way of sarcastically pointing out that, no matter what the actual situation was in the Raptors’ locker room, or elsewhere, in their opinion … whether they had actually watched the games or not is irrelevant … there is no justification at all for dismissing a coach 17 games into the season, following consecutive playoff berths, under the conditions cited by Mr. Colangelo … e.g. the players had tuned him out, etc. … that was not connected more to personal whims of the man calling the shots for the Raptors these days.

    Year, W-L Rec’d
    2006-2007, 47-35
    2007-2008, 41-41
    2008-2009, 23-42 [to-date, 8-9/Sam Mitchell; 15-33/Jay Triano]

    As I first wrote on this blog back in the summer, unless Mr. Colangelo was very, very careful this season the Raptors were most likely headed toward TREADMILL STATUS as a result of his machinations since Feb/2006.

    Unfortunately, it now seems as though I was, in fact, CORRECT in that initial assessment of the situation in Raptorville.

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