If you’ve talked to me for even a hot minute, you’ll know that I am a rambunctious, raving decibel-cheering Toronto Raptors fan. That the two books that I am reviewing in this week’s issue of Cece Reviews the Reads are basketball focused.
Cece Reviews The Read Volume l
If you’ve talked to me for even a hot minute, you’ll know that I am a rambunctious, raving, decibel-cheering Toronto Raptors fan. When the Raptors are on, everything else isn’t. That’s just the way it is. Or, to put it another way, the last Raptors playoff game I went to left me with no voice for three days. (Quick aside: Reaping a benefit like that, the family chipped in and bought me some more Raptors tickets for my birthday).
But I digress.
All to say, that the two books that I am reviewing in this week’s issue of Cece Reviews the Read are basketball focused, with some interesting and salient background on the philosophies and strategic vision of the Raptors organization. The fact that both books were released in October of this year certainly counts as a three-pointer.
Doug Smith’s book, WE THE NORTH, published by Viking, (Penguin Canada), is an informative, twenty-five chapter history of the Toronto Raptors, in celebration of the team’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Smith is a reporter with the Toronto Star and has been covering the team since the press conference announcing the franchise, back in 1995.
Because Smith has been around the Raptors organization for so long, the players trust him and are willing to talk to him – oftentimes when they wouldn’t necessarily talk to other media. Case in point is the hype around the 2018 early morning tweet (former Raptor) DeMar DeRozan sent out saying, “This depression get the best of me.”
While the media was falling all over itself trying to get a scrum happening, there was only one person DeRozan wanted to have a private chat with, and that was Smith.
The backdrop and the history of the team, including the first training facility, which Smith says was so far off the radar that ‘you could barely find it with a search warrant’, to their current home at the (pre-COVID) Scotiabank Arena, not to mention the many unforgettable players who have run the court for the Raptors, including a personal favourite- Damon Stoudamire, ‘Mighty Mouse’- makes the reader feel like part of the team. Smith’s shout out to the Raptors organization’s hiring practices – including their philosophy of hiring the most qualified person for the job – translates into a strong compliment of women such as Jennifer Quinn, Director of Communications, Teresa Resch, vice president of basketball operations, and Brittni Donaldson, assistant coach, also offers a solid backdrop as to the bones of the Raptors organization.
A solid read, that is as interesting as it is fact-based, I give the book a 4.9 out of 5
Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse’s book: RAPTURE Fifteen Teams, Four Countries, One NBA Championship, And How to Find A Way to Win – Damn Near Anywhere, (Little, Brown and Company), is a first person account of Nurse’s career, from his childhood in Carroll, Iowa, to his personal playing career – he actually owned a team at one point – to the untold teams he coached below the NBA level, (at one point he was the youngest coach in England). Half way through the book, Nurse arrives in Toronto in 2013, signing on as assistant coach to the much beloved head coach, Dwane Casey. After some tumultuous years, years when the Raptors just couldn’t seem to move on to the next rounds, in 2018 Casey was fired and Nurse became head coach. The result, one which any basketball fan – both true fans and even those on the band-wagon pray for – the Larry O’Brien trophy, was ours. All the upsetting trades and missteps were forgotten, as we celebrated our ‘We Got ‘Em’ victory whilst grinning gleefully at our neighbours to the south.
It must be said that the 2019 season was a triumph of skills and innovation, a gutsy willingness by Nurse to shake things up and leave both opposing players and coaches muttering and chewing huge wads of gum as their lips mouthed two-word-exclamations not allowed on television. (For the record, Nurse chews Fisherman’s Friend behind the bench).
Interesting tidbits in Rapture include the thousands of bracelets Nurse had made before the start of the 2018-2019 season, engraved with the letters AMJ – which stands for April, May, June – a tangible reminder that the playoff months are the months that really count.
Rapture is more of a basketball-focused book rather than a Raptors-centric book, and certainly for me, flushed out my knowledge of the game as a whole.
I give the book a 4.8 out of 5.
Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications, and an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at cecescott.com. Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019. Her second book will be coming out in early 2021. Cece is also working on a book of Daily Reflections for Auto Immune Condition Warriors.
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