The Raptors resumed practicing yesterday, which meant another opportunity to hear from the team via Zoom call, after practice. And who should appear on the monitor? Why it’s Skinny Marc Gasol!
Marc seemed perhaps a tad annoyed that his conditioning has been the talk of Raptors camp, declining to say how much weight he’d lost or speak too much on how he slimmed down. Which is understandable! But he did speak to the “why” of it. So let’s get to it!
1. Marc Gasol: “It was a frustrating season for me... I could never get into a rhythm or help the team the way I wanted ”
To no one’s surprise, Marc Gasol indicated that playing straight through the NBA Finals, then into the World Championships, then coming back to training camp, was taxing for him. Without any time to rest — to “put money back in the bank,” as per his own metaphor — his body was susceptible to injury, like the hamstring that kept him out of action. Marc is a proud guy and I’m sure he wanted to be out there helping the team.
2. Patrick McCaw: “Practices have been super, super competitive. Lots of trash talk”
Sounds like the intensity around the Raptors is nice and high, which is great. The team famously didn’t practice much during the season, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to wonder if they’d ease their way into the bubble, saving that intensity for the real games. Looks like the answer is no! Glad to hear it.
That does make me wonder — who are the best trash talkers on the Raptors? I gotta put Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka at the top of the list. Fred VanVleet maybe? Pascal Siakam seems too nice to talk trash! I bet OG Anunoby doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s probably super-demoralizing. He probably he saves up the really good cuts for clutch moments, you know?
3. McCaw: “I put it out there just for fun”
Always more “in the know” than just about anyone, Blake Murphy surprised me by asking McCaw about... the music McCaw dropped during hiatus? McCaw said it was something he’d been messing around with, that it was something he always wanted to do and that he got good feedback from his teammates. (Blake shared the link to McCaw’s Soundcloud on Twitter if you want to check it out.)
I think it’s been pretty cool to get a sense of what some of the guys do for fun in their free time, of which they’ve had more lately than they’ll probably ever have as pros. Kudos to McCaw for making the time worthwhile and doing something he’s always wanted to!
Speaking of hobbies...
4. Norman Powell: [Gone fishin’]
Apparently the number one hobby for players in the bubble is fishing. Who knew!?
I think Powell is the only Raptor we’ve seen fishing so far, but plenty of others have been spotted on the water, including former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas.
Let’s hope Norm and JV have better aim than Ben Simmons...
“You couldn’t throw it in the ocean”— Backcourt Violation (@backcourtv) July 12, 2020
Ben Simmons : pic.twitter.com/hRk0FGPmq8
5. Gasol: “To me it’s pretty simple, it’s be more responsible as human beings”
That’s Marc talking about Black Lives Matter specifically, but he could be talking about any social justice issue — such as anti-semitism. I will admit I’m saddened by the silence from the NBA Bubble regarding this issue. The players indicated back in June that they’d use the bubble as a “platform” to amplify their social justice message, but no one has a word to say about prominent celebrities like Ice Cube and Nick Cannon, or former NBA Players like Stephen Jackson or Dwyane Wade, when they out themselves as anti-semites? I think that’s shitty.
Wade did walk back his tweets, eventually, and weakly. And it’s not like I expect players to come out screaming at every injustice in the world, no one can do that or expect that. NBA players have a lot on their plates, getting in shape, managing their safety, being away from their families, and being socially conscious. But bigotry is bigotry. “Be more responsible as human beings” means calling this shit out when you see it. And the silence is saying a lot.
That’s it for today! Now it’s time for the guessing game of “who’ll speak today!?” My guess is we get Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. We’ll find out soon enough!