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The Colangelo Factor: A Character Analysis

After seven years, Bryan Colangelo, for all intents and purposes is no longer a part of the Raptors future. In looking back at what was, Kinnon Yee analyses what was (and still is) great about Bryan Colangelo and where he went wrong.

A Character Analysis
A Character Analysis
Kinnon Yee

Forgive us.

It's been over a month since Bryan "Legomaster" Colangelo was removed from being a general manager, and in that time, he's now been removed from any real official capacity. All this, and we still haven't had a real retrospective.

However, we've already talked at length about BC's moves over the years. After seven years, I think it's prudent that we look at who Bryan Colangelo is and focus more on the person that has led us here.

So here we go.

If I had to tell another team about Bryan Colangelo and what he's done as a Raptors GM and President, I'd have to start with the good.

There has been nobody more savvy with regards to the media, crafting a message, and selling hope.

There might be more than a few people who would consider these traits as those of a snake oil salesman, but over the years, after being at many media day conferences, I can tell you that no matter how we felt about the team before the day, the sentiment after was that at least the Raptors had "a chance" or "an idea".

Heck, I can tell you that there have been more than a few times where I've seen Adam enter a scrum with one opinion, only to be sold on another bill of goods by the end of a Colangelo scrum.

And you need that in your president.

Bryan also made sure to keep certain items under his belt. Even though it would have made great copy and made us happy to hear the truth about how he felt about Hedo Turkoglu or Andrea Bargnani, giving his honest opinion would always ultimately undermine any value his players might have. At times, you could say that this made it very frustrating to interview the Legomaster, but in the end, you could always see where he was coming from.

Even stranger was that I always thought that Bryan Colangelo had a vision for this team, at least in the beginning. He targeted certain players overseas and around the NBA that could help the Raptors and created a strong, "European-flavoured" team.

It's kinda like what happens to a lot of bands when they hit it big. They worked on years figuring out every single song and honing their ideas only to then release it to the public as their hit album. They get huge because of all that refinement over the years.

However, when those ideas are all used up in their triumphant album, there's not much left for what follows. Ideas are harder to come by and ideas don't have time to gestate since the crowds demand a followup album much more sooner rather than later.

Colangelo, in many ways, suffered from this. You often felt that he didn't have any ideas left since he tapped all his resources just putting together that magical 2006-2007 team. Over the next few years, he would be found overcompensating due to unexpected injuries and retirements.

I'll still maintain that the biggest blow to Colangelo's momentum was losing both Jorge Garbajosa and Mo Pete, all in about one season. By losing his two glue guys, and ultimately, glue defenders, it essentially put Colangelo on tilt after his first magical year. It's here where his vision starts clouding and we saw that he began to truly make choices by committee, since he seemed to have tapped himself out of ideas.

Yes, he always told the media that he was a big believer of building consensus, but without a higher vision, that consensus pulled the team in too many different, awkward directions.

Need a more defensive-minded team? Well, draft PJ Tucker, and try out Jermaine O'Neal to get that toughness you want. When that doesn't work, let's try to find the biggest European player on the free agent market and go back to the original vision the Legomaster had.

As the years went by, that's been the direction of the Raptors. We saw it again last year where Dwane Casey had the team playing one way, while the GM decided to go another way in the off season.

Guys with vision build a team that fits a certain philosophy from top to bottom; from coaches all the way down to players. And with players, he establishes a core by manipulating the salary cap to suit his needs.

With Bryan, on the other hand, you always felt like the cap and salaries seemed to dictate his situation instead. From overpaying marginal talent, to taking huge gambles on injury prone players, these are not the decisions of a person who respects the cap and understands the need of finding value players around the league.

But perhaps the worst sin that Bryan Colangelo committed in his tenure was in making a player special even before he had proven anything.

You can talk all that you want about Andrea Bargnani's wasted talent, but on the other end of the equation, you also had Bryan Colangelo providing him with special treatment.

As Sam Mitchell's interview the last year has proven, someone under Colangelo's leadership provided Bargnani with special treatment. It happened under Colangelo's watch so regardless if he ordered it or not, it was his responsibility.

So in summary, there are some good aspects of Bryan Colangelo that I think are important for a GM to have. The trouble is, I also feel like he's completely spent on his ideas and more importantly, I'm not sure Bryan Colangelo has the know-how to navigate this "new" NBA landscape.

In his time in Toronto, it's been terribly frustrating watching his teams take to the court these past years, but there have also been some major highs during his tenure as well. Today, he may be Bryan Colangelo, consultant, but it's only a matter of time before the two-time executive of the year finds a new home.

Good luck, wherever you go.