Holly MacKenzie

Holly Mackenzie

Holly MacKenzie is a lover of all things basketball, especially rookies and underdogs. She also enjoys the games, stories and triumphs of Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston. Getting her start interning for SLAM, the basketball Bible, her grandmother still has an issue of the magazine sitting on the mantle because it was the first time her granddaughter's name appeared in the masthead. The draft class of '96 holds a special place in her heart and she is currently wondering why she is writing in the third-person. For this slip-up, Holly is blaming the influence of LeBron James and The Decision and is wondering if this will result in James putting her on his list of haters. If so, she'll use this opportunity to say that it's all love over here, LBJ.

Recent Posts

I recently posted a video of DeMar DeRozan doing his thing at the Drew League in California. Well, we’ve got another one that’s just as fun. A highlights compilation of Shannon Brown and DeRozan, the two teammates play above the rim in a big way. Wow. Sure, it’s summer ball and the competition is different than during a legit NBA game, blah, blah, blah. How sweet it must be to be able to get up and throw down like these two.

Check the 50-second mark for a beautiful move from Brown, then buckle up and wait for the DeRozan show. Who else wishes they were in L.A. for some Drew League action and some chicken and waffles from Roscoes? Man. Cali, you’re killin’ me.

(h/t @outsidethenba)

Isaiah Thomas

A day removed from the first of a handful of Raptors predraft workouts and I’m wondering where to begin. Let me tell you, you want to fall into a bunch of conversations about the team, draft and draft prospects, spend your day writing at the ACC instead of leaving. Since you’ve probably already seen the videos of Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight and Isaiah Thomas talking with the media, I wanted to give you some thoughts on the day as well as things I’ve been thinking with respect to this year’s draft after tracking down as many people as I possibly could to talk all things class of 2011.

- Brandon Knight looks to be his listed height of 6-foot-3. He was also exactly as advertised. Beyond composed, he was poised and polished in the media scrum. It didn’t matter what we wanted to talk about, he was prepared and had his answers ready. He’s definitely been prepped for all of the media attention that comes along with being a future lottery pick.

- Loved how Brandon handled the questions about the “scheduling conflict” that meant he and Kemba wouldn’t be working out against one another. Rather than get rattled or stumble over excuses, he simply said he shows up where his agent tells him to be and allows him to worry about everything while he focuses on basketball. Smart answer. Easy answer. And he stayed with it, despite repeated questions about whether he would have liked to compete against Kemba.

- Of course, for us media people, it’s frustrating when guys don’t want to go against other players because it makes it so much tougher to get a feel for how the team feels about the players. Jim Kelly, the Raptors senior director of scouting acknowledged the situation, but said there’s not much the team can do other than set up workouts and see how it shakes out with respect to the schedules of the players. It was really funny to hear Isaiah Thomas give his two cents on guys ducking out of workouts against other player’s, saying, “I told my agent, every workout, I want to be against the top dudes. Brandon Knights, the Kemba Walkers, all of them. Show I’m as good as them and I can compete with them. I’m just out here playing hard and having fun.”

Read the rest of this entry »

DeMar DeRozan is playing in the Drew League again this offseason just as he did last summer. The Drew League has some of the NBA’s finest mixing it up with local legends and up and comers and has been a staple in LA hoops for more than 35 years. Dash Harris, LA native and player for Texas A&M university –and one of DeRozan’s friends– tweeted earlier today calling the league LA’s Rucker Park. Packed gym, lots of talent and big names? Sounds good to me.

Here’s a highlight mix of some of DeRozan’s best dunks from his games at the Drew League. Love the grown out hair, love the mid-range game, and of course, love the windmill at the 2:00 mark. Wowzers.

Turns out we’re not the only admirers of DeRozan’s athleticism. In a recently released track from rapper Royce Da 5’9″, the Detroit rapper name drops DeRozan, saying,

“You’re about to see how far Paul Rosenberg’ll go / The height of my game is like a DeMar DeRozan vertical.”

Check the track here, but beware: It’s not for virgin ears.

Leading up to today, all signs pointed toward Jay Triano returning to coach the Toronto Raptors. At the end of the season, Bryan Colangelo made it clear that the players supported their coach, and then he even endorsed Triano’s return himself, saying that if he wasn’t back as general manager he felt Triano deserved consideration as the head coach.

With Colangelo’s contract sorted for two more seasons to show what he can do, his careful consideration led him to the decision to let Triano go.

It’s a strange feeling when you receive a press release in your email inbox telling you that someone you’ve seen, spoken to and written about every day is no longer going to be a part of your day-to-day work experience. You get used to it with players because you eventually accept that anyone is tradeable at any given time, but when it’s a coach it feels a little different.

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most frustrating parts of being a sports writer is trying to track down an athlete to get a quote or clarification on a quote. Yesterday, the Star’s Dave Feschuk tried getting in touch with Andrea Bargnani for clarification on statements that were made during the Italian feed of a Western Conference Finals game where he was serving as colour commentator. Feschuk was unsuccessful at reaching Bargnani because he was on vacation and “unreachable”.

Without being able to speak with Bargnani for clarification, Feschuk spoke with the journalist who conducted the interview and confirmed the accuracy of Bargnani’s statements. One of those statements that caused raised eyebrows around Toronto was this one:

Asked in a feature interview where he’d like to play if he could rub a magic lamp and transport himself to another NBA city, Bargnani told Italy’s Sky Sports: “I want to stay in Toronto, at least this is the politically correct answer. If (I am) to go somewhere else, I’d like a warm climate city and a team where I can actually play in my role.”

This afternoon, the Raptors released a statement from Bargnani’s press office. The statement in full as it appeared in the release from the team:

“I wish to personally clarify and correct an inaccurate portrayal of my words that recently appeared in the media. Much of what I said was taken out of context with respect to an entire conversation.

“I want to make clear my love for Toronto and that I consider the city a second home. I never said that I want to leave Toronto and I’m sorry if fans interpreted the inaccuracy that way.

“I am proud to represent Toronto and the Raptors organization. I appreciate what Bryan Colangelo and the organization has done for me during the past five years of my career. I will always continue to work to improve myself as a player in an effort to reward the organization and our fans with the best team possible.”

It’s not surprising that Barngnani would release a statement providing clarification after the statements created a buzz around the internet, but why not just make yourself available to a Toronto reporter yesterday to prevent this whole thing becoming an issue in the first place? Actually, instead of doing damage control, don’t damn yourself in the first place by saying things that you know could easily be misinterpreted and/or lost and blurred in translation.

Another quote, as reported in the article from Feschuk:

Asked on the Sky Sports broadcast about Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo’s post-season assessment of his work, Bargnani replied: “(Colangelo) had some unfortunate and not very courageous comments about me … The facts are there for everybody to see and judge.”

The truth here probably lies somewhere between what Bargnani said during that Italian television broadcast and what was expressed in the statement released today. One thing that is for certain: Bargnani and Colangelo will be talking about this miscommunication soon if they haven’t already.

For a player who has always had the support of his general manager, it probably was tough to hear Colangelo be so honest in his year end session with the media where he criticized Bargnani’s rebounding as well as his focus and desire when it comes to rebounding. At 25 years old, with five NBA seasons under his belt, it’s time for Bargnani to face the music and the valid criticism he received at the end of the season. Preferably he would learn to do so without words and with action on the floor.