Watch the Tape will teach you absolutely nothing about basketball, how to watch it better, or how it’s properly played. It WILL take you on a tour of some of the finest, and most random Raptors-related (and sometimes adjacent) material on the net.
Dwane Casey, one of the finest men the sporting scene in Toronto has ever known, is coming back. Hell, I’ll say it more strongly: Dwane Casey is coming home.
Home to the organization where he remade his coaching reputation. Home to the franchise whose destiny he helped reverse. Home to the city he learned to love.
Casey will always have a special place in my heart, not least because of his heartfelt goodbye to Toronto and the rumour that he took the Detroit job partially because it allowed him to keep his family here so his children could finish school in an environment of tolerance.
Casey was lauded by pretty much everyone for being honest, charitable, respectful and kind in every interaction he had with players, media and fans.
So, of course, we’re going to focus on three times where Dwane. Lost. His. Shit.
Vs. Oklahoma City, March 18th, 2018
Our first piece of tape is the day of the infamous triple-ejection, as Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka all were ejected (more or less) on the same play.
We’ll start the tape right after Deebo and Serge have been run for complaining about a non-call when Carmelo Anthony arm-barred Pascal Siakam, preventing him from reaching an inbound pass.
00:00-0:04: Casey stalking the sideline like a panther in a cage. It’s taking every ounce of his Southern gentility to keep calm. This shot makes his eventual reaction so much more enjoyable.
0:05-0:10: An opposing player taking a technical free throw while the arena thunders with “Ref you Suck” chants is the basketball equivalent of Marvel’s end credits. You know it’s over, but you kinda wanna stick around in case there’s still a surprise waiting for you.
0:08: Bonus dab to Paul George – the high-fiving invisible teammates routine never gets old.
0:11-0:22: As Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin deliver the post-mortem, a fan can be heard shouting “You’re a hero, ref. You’re a hero, you’re a F’ing hero.”
It’s a Grade B heckle – I’ve always preferred: “Get off your knees, ref – you’re blowing the game” – but it’s got just the right amount of sarcasm to make it sting. I’m imagining a Bay Street trader, two too many Stellas in, tie loosened, doing a slow clap as he yells it – and then chest bumping the biz bro beside him.
0:26-0:33: Watch the top of the frame. Casey starts wandering, gets close to official Marc Davis, stops for a moment, and then walks back
0:34-0:38: Davis T’s up Casey. Now, it’s entirely possible Casey said something when he got close to Davis in the moments before, and then said something again when he walked away, except Davis didn’t react at all when Casey was right beside him. You’d think if this was a two-part insult, Davis would have turned slightly at the first salvo.
0:40-0:46: I have literally never seen this before in a basketball game, the coach, his player (Lowry), and an opposing player (Cory Brewer – whose uncalled foul about a minute earlier really started all this), laughing at the referee and his call.
Is it worth noting that this was the third straight game that Marc Davis officiated where coaches were furious, and that Davis was voted the third worst official by NBA players?
Nah, probably just a coincidence.
0:47-0:49: Casey’s look back at Davis... phew. I didn’t realize how much disgust you could put into licking your lips, but dang, those lips could kill!
0:50-1;00: Casey absolutely nails this exit. Slow saunter, he’s in no hurry, he didn’t do anything wrong. This is a man who knows he shall be redeemed.
(My favourite bit of this though is at the end where Armstrong says in laughing disbelief: “the Raptor bench thought it was Kyle Lowry”, because of course they did. I feel like it’s a Raptors organizational maxim that if someone is talking shit, literally anywhere on the planet, you assume Kyle Lowry was involved.)
1:02: BALL DON’T LIE!!!!
1:04-1:07: The jacket is off! The jacket is off!
Sorry, did I say Casey nailed this exit? I was wrong, Casey just eviscerated this thing.
1:08-1:35: The rest of the tape has some great moments. The reveal that it was a fan who was cussing out Davis, and somehow Davis thought it was Casey. Dwane and Kyle sharing a bonding moment of mutual disgust – which I feel is like 93% of all Kyle Lowry bonding moments:
EXT: PLAYGROUND - DAY: Kyle Lowry and his adroable son Karter are at the playground. Some six-year old has just taken a header off the monkey bars.
Karter shakes his head.
Karter: Dad, that kid sucks. He didn’t even get across one bar.
Kyle, a profound look on his face, pats Karter on the head.
Kyle: I know son, I know. It’s because he’s weak.
Then you’ve got the slow-mo replay of Kyle’s facial expressions during the ejection (is it just me, or does Kyle Lowry always seem the most joyful when other people are losing their minds?), Lowry sitting on the scorer’s table – also throwing some licking lip shade.
But the big thing is that first one. Who was the fan? Was it Stella-yell? I’m thinking no, that guy doesn’t have the subtly to pull off this sort of troll job. Davis is going to know that someone yelling stuff isn’t Casey.
Me, I think it’s the guy in the glasses who you see throughout the clip. Look back to the 0:42 mark. Look at his shock, and then his rush to talk to his friend. I’m no lip-reader, but I’m pretty sure he said: “Yo, I just got Casey tossed.”
(I am not sure of this at all.)
Still, overall this is more palette cleanser than freak-out. There is some definite heat from Casey, and the removal of the suit jacket is world class petty, but we’ve got better to come.
At Sacramento, November 20th, 2016
The legendary game where Terrence Ross’ clutch buzzer beater was erased after the official’s decided the clock started late. What has always killed me about this call is that Ross can only shoot based on the time he sees he has. He took what he thought was a legal shot. How can you know, that if the clock doesn’t start properly, that Ross doesn’t rise up on one dribble and splash it anyway, Morris Peterson style.
At the very least this should have been a replay, and I will go to my grave believing that (the fact that I will go to my grave with a strong opinion of a mid-November game in Sacramento should tell you something worrisome about me, but I digress.)
(Warning, some parts are NSFW.)
0:00-0:06: Referee Mike Callahan gets the word from New Jersey and makes the call. You can tell from his face that he knows what’s coming next.
(I chose the shorter version to get right to Casey’s reaction, but if you want to watch the play from the beginning, go here.)
0:07-0:14: Casey starts out with a power move. Storm the ref, but under control, and land the first verbal riposte, in this case: “That’s bullshit, Mike!”
Clear, direct, personable. This is why Casey was always considered a master communicator.
I also love Terrence Ross’ reaction – the last time I saw a mouth open that wide was when my three year old son was trying to fit four Oreos in it.
0:15-0:22: Credit to Casey, he stays calm while listening to Callahan’s explanation. Credit to Callahan that, surrounded by Raptors, he stays cool. Still, Casey’s body language, head thrust forward, shoulders up, suggests he may not be quite as calm as he’s letting on.
0:22-0:26: My absolute favourite moment of this video. Kings coach Dave Joerger – doing everything he can not to laugh, gets his guys off the floor to make sure the game is well and truly over.
The best part is his little pirouette into a good-bye wave. It’s like he just snuck away from brunch after only leaving a twenty on the table despite the fact he had two mimosas.
0:27-0:33: Darren Collison was definitely not used to getting breaks like this as a King.
0:34-0:54: It’s briefly interrupted by the Kings scurrying away back to their hole, but Casey is now starting to simmer. He’s clearly arguing back against the explanation. “That’s not right” he says over and over. This is classic Casey – focused on fairness and virtue.
0:55-1:02: They replay the final moments. You can decide for yourself, but with Ross shooting with a half second left, and the slight human delay to reacting to something unexpected (Cousin’s deflection), it seems to me that Ross very likely would have got the shot off in time.
1:09-1:19: Casey’s body language is everything. Look how tight he is. That little fist pump probably moves four inches, because every muscle in Dwane Casey’s body is clenched due to the injustice that was perpetrated upon not him, but his team.
The final salvo, “That’s bullshit, Mike”, is elevated by the fact that Casey then slams “Mike” for “just following orders” with his final knife twist: “and you know it.”
Did Mike Callahan go to sleep that night, knowing that he knew it? And did the knowledge of that knowing keep him from actual sleep, but forced one Michael Joseph Callahan (I assume all Irish guys have the middle name Joseph), into an evening of tossing and turning? Questioning his moral fortitude for not standing up to those faceless men in New Jersey?
The way Casey chucks that clipboard at the end (also still so tight, that he can’t even get his elbow up to his shoulder), suggests to me that he did.
Now we move on to our final clip, Casey’s Guernica.
Vs. Atlanta, December 29th, 2017
The game itself was routine, an easy Raptors win, their 11th in a row, over a so-so Hawks team that was trying to get on a roll. The ending, though, elevated this into Raptors history, with perhaps the finest meltdown in Casey’s career.
(Warning, VERY NSFW.)
0:00-0:11: OG Anunoby glides down the court in what has become a Raptors-Hawks tradition, a Raps rookie picks off a garbage time pass and then races down court to dunk the soul out of Atlanta.
0:12-0:20: The Hawks fake like they’ll make a play, but then turn away from the hoop, content to let time run out on the 13-point beatdown. Nothing to see here...
0:21-0:23: ... or is there? Watch at the top of your screen as Anunoby heads to the Raps side of the court. He passes by Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, and the two appear to have words?
0:24-0:26: Oh, they had words. Anunoby even briefly turns back to reply to something Budenholzer has said. Given that OG Anunoby generally behaves like he lives in an isolation chamber, this is significant.
0:27-0:33: Dwane. Casey. Is. Hot. Casey yells something at his Atlanta opposite, and then obviously does not like the reply because he turns back and drops not one, not two, but three F-you’s at Budenholzer.
0:34-0:36: I love Delon Wright gently leading Casey away from the conflict like you do to your Grandfather when he gets fired up that Golden Griddle no longer has $7.99 all-you-can-eat-pancake-Tuesdays (my family has some very specific breakfast demands).
Delon’s smile is classic, too. He looks almost giddy over hearing Casey lose it. Kind of like watching your Grade Two teacher have a meltdown after he hit his thumb with a hammer and you learned a lot of new words that day (why no, these are not oddly specific examples. Why do you ask?)
0:50-1:17: The replay makes it clear. Anunoby and Budenholzer definitely exchange words over the dunk, and the Hawks coach lobs one final comment at OG as he crosses half, causing Anunoby to say something back which gets Casey riled.
The funny part here is Anunoby is smiling as he gets back to the bench. He’s obviously amused that the Hawks coach thought to discipline him, so it’s not like Casey reacted to his player being upset.
But of course Casey didn’t, because it’s the principle of the thing, and Casey is nothing if not a man of principles.
And that’s why we love him.
That and the occasional clipboard mauling.