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Be More Than A Visitor At The ROM

Check out our article about the Royal Ontario Museum (“ROM”) featured in The Potent Lifestyle Magazine

Some forty years ago as a young engineering student this scribe accidentally lucked into finding out the University of Toronto (UofT) offered a palaeontology course at the ROM that qualified as an equivalent to a rather dry geology course held in a classroom setting. For an entire semester access to the ROM was free and the cross appointed instructor trusted us students with numerous collections not available for public viewing.

“We still do lots with UofT and their students,” confirmed a spokesperson for the ROM.

Things have changed a lot in forty years. More is known about the dinosaurs and how they are presented has changed. With the Age of Dinosaurs Galleries, T.Rex Alive and New Dino Discovered, it takes a lot less imagination now to visualize a T-Rex hunting you now than it did back then.

continued……..

The Potent is a subscription based monthly magazine.

 

 

Stephen Brotherston at MoVernie StudioStephen Brotherston is the editor of ProBballReport.com and has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams since 2009. His articles have previously appeared in USAToday.com, Foxsports.com, Hoopsworld.com, Yardbarker and Bleacher Report and he has been interviewed on ESPN Radio, Fox Radio, NBA TV Canada, Canada.com and independent basketball podcasts.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Pascal Siakam

Raptors Draft Pick Pascal Siakam Does Have A Jump Shot

Pascal Siakam wasn’t on anyone’s radar for the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft, anyone except Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri who thought the 22-year-old big man from Cameroon was good enough to take with the 27th overall pick. Defense and rebounding go a long ways in Toronto these days, but despite numerous mock draft comments to the contrary, Siakam is more than just a rim protector and garbageman in the paint, he does have a jump shot as well.

Siakam spoke with CNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely in June about his jump shot,

“I have pretty good form when you look at my shot,” he said. “The role that I had in college, I didn’t have to shoot a lot of jumpers. From my freshman year to my sophomore year I improved a lot on my shot. And I know it’s going to keep on improving. The form is there. It’s just about getting reps and consistency.”

As a freshman at New Mexico State, Siakam took 59.3 percent of his shots at the rim and connected on 69.8 percent of them. Hoop-Math.com reports he hit 39.7 percent of his jump shots in 2014-15, but didn’t make a three-pointer. However, he wasn’t incompetent from 15 feet out, hitting on over 75 percent of his free throws.

Siakam extended his range and took more shots away from the rim as a sophomore as he led the WAC in field goals, field goal attempts and points scored. He only took 36.7 percent of his shots at the rim, connecting on 73.3 percent. 60.4 percent of his shots were two-point jumpers on which he shot a respectable 43.8 percent. He also attempted 15 three-pointers and made 3.

Bleacher Report’s C.J. Moore reported on the changes to Siakam’s game in March,

“The main thing that impressed me on him was the fact that he made the big leap in improvement hitting the 12- to 15-foot jumper,” a scout told B/R. “Last year, he was a guy that didn’t shoot that shot and now he’s a guy who has a very good-looking jump shot.”

“He’s definitely an NBA-caliber player,” Baylor coach Scott Drew told Bleacher Report. “The thing that sticks out to me is how much he’s improved in the last year. The first time we played him [in 2014-15], he spent most of his time in the paint.

“But this season he moved away from the basket. He was putting the ball on the floor, taking longer jumpers—but still mixing it up down low, too. He’s got a more versatile skill set now, which makes him dangerous because it means he can play multiple positions.”

Ujiri just might have picked up on something other GM’s had overlooked as Draft Express was reporting his jump shot still leaves a lot to be desired.

He’s not much of a jump shooter yet… his mechanics are inconsistent and need to be tweaked before he turns into a threat as a shooter.

Selling Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on Siakam would have been relatively easy. He led the WAC in blocks (2.2) and rebounds (11.6) and his defensive rating was a conference best 86.7. For a player with a motor that doesn’t stop, Siakam was doing it all in college on both ends of the court. He’s looking to surprise everyone with that jump shot few people think he has.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 



 

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Sorry Lakers, Raptors Free Agent DeMar DeRozan Wants To Win

Toronto Raptors All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan is about to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his NBA career and his timing couldn’t have been better. Second in Eastern Conference scoring at 23.5 points per game, averaging 20.9 playoff points per game in the Raptors first ever run to the Eastern Conference Finals including five games of 30 or more points. Then averaging 23 points per game in the Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Cavs.

The 26-year-old is about to get paid, but unfortunately for lottery teams like his hometown Lakers, DeRozan has been through the brutal dog days of rebuilding. After owning the Atlantic Division for three seasons and finally making it to the Conference Finals, winning has become very important and the pride of helping to create a winner is overwhelming.

“At this point in my career it is all about winning,” DeRozan said after the season ended. “It is the only thing that matters.

“For me to look back on everything, I remember when all the buildings downtown (in Toronto) wasn’t downtown, we got a new arena, there is just so much to look back on and so much to take in all at once now. I think throughout the summer, you really look back on things or you get asked about certain situations that happened during the season, you really start to realize – damn we really did something.

“We did something great and that can’t be overlooked and now we understand what we have to do to get back to this point and go beyond it.

“I was passionate about (Toronto) when we were losing, we were terrible I would say I would stick through this whole thing. I wanted to be that guy who would bring this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch out after we win.”

DeRozan believes, with cause, that the Raptors are close to getting to the next level. His confidence in head coach Dwane Casey’s consistent message that he credits with getting the team here and president and general manager Masai Ujiri’s ability to find talent that fits the team culture and moves the organization closer to their ultimate goal is based on results, not promises, and that’s hard to shake.

“Team-wise, we’re not missing much,” DeRozan said. “We’re not missing much at all. We had to go thru an experience like this to realize how hard it is to get to this point and what we need to do to be better.

“You can see the passion that Masai has during off season, during the season, when it comes to us, when it comes to winning. It’s incredible when you that hunger and that passion from your own GM like he’s out there on the court with us. That’s big when you have that support system.”

The other hold the Raptors have on DeRozan is relationships. DeRozan has said before that his relationship with fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry is real, it was something that just happened naturally and he has always been positive about his teammates and the organization – even when they were losing.

“It’s amazing,” DeRozan said. “I think you guys could see it over the years we always had a great group of guys in this locker room. We never had no type of friction, everybody pulled for one another, cheer for one another, we did everything together. Whatever it may be, families, kids, playing with other player’s kids. It’s an amazing camaraderie that we had with teammates and it’s hard to find in this league.”

DeRozan doesn’t want to leave Toronto. He sees the value in playing for just one franchise for an entire career and the Raptors have made it easy for him to do so.

“It’s the most incredible thing you can do,” DeRozan said about playing his entire career in Toronto.

DeRozan still calls L.A. home, but he made his peace with not playing there professionally a long time ago. It wasn’t always obvious early on, but DeRozan has been a pro since he stepped into the NBA in 2009 and if anything, he’s a better pro today.

“I grew up in L.A., that’s my home, there’s not a part of L.A. I haven’t seen,” DeRozan said. “(However,) the only thing that is appealing to me is the things I’ve done in this organization (in Toronto) and the things that can be done here and that’s always been my mindset since I’ve been here.

“I remember choosing my college and I told myself I am going to stay home and go to USC because it’s a possibility if I go to the NBA this will be my last time playing at home. That was the reason for me to go to USC. I’m fine if this is my last stint at playing at home in front of my friends and family because at the end of the day after I’m finished playing I’m pretty sure I’ll be living in L.A. for the rest of my life anyway.

“Playing (in L.A.) again is something I’ve never thought about again. It isn’t something I’ve thought about now.

“My mindset has always been Toronto. I haven’t changed not one bit.”

The Raptors GM and DeRozan play coy when it comes to talking about the size of DeRozan’s new contract, but rest assured it’ll be massive. Ujiri can sign DeRozan to a max deal this summer and it will have absolutely zero impact on anything else he’s working on as the the cap hold for his All-Star is just a little over $15 million. It just has to be one of the last free agent deals Toronto does to get inked and with both sides wanting to get something done, this won’t be any harder to accomplish than re-upping coach Casey.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

Toronto Raptors Bismack Biyombo

Raptors Want Justice For Low Blow To Biyombo

Something happened at the end of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final between the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, something usually associated with a bad loser. After setting a franchise record with 26 rebounds, Bismack Biyombo slowly crumpled to the floor after what appeared to be a low blow from the 35-year-old veteran Dahntay Jones just before time expired on the 15 point Raptors home victory.

Biyombo had to be helped up after several minutes and assisted to the locker room.

“I got hit in an area that I wasn’t to get hit on,” Biyombo said after the game. “A private area. Whenever the league has a chance, probably want to take a look at that. That’s all I can say on that one.”

The comment brought some laughter from the media and Biyombo, but it wasn’t funny. That looked like a dirty play from a long-time veteran who should have known better. It’s going to be hard to argue the incident was an accident.

It shouldn’t take long for an official response from the NBA.

As an active aggressive center, Biyombo takes a lot of abuse as he fights for rebounds and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey is starting to boil over about the complete lack of foul calls his player is getting.

“He’s one of the top rebounders in the league and no telling how many times he gets hit and fouled under there without being called,” Casey said. “Again, I’m going to say this, I think he gets hit almost on every rebound and putback there is and he just doesn’t get calls.

“There’s one play where they almost have a brawl (and Biyombo) gets killed on that play. I don’t know if he’s getting hit because of how physical and tough he is, but he’s getting cracked.”

It has looked like it’s been open season on Biyombo in this series, but that final blow at the end of Game Three. Something like that crosses every line.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri Confirms He Wants A Power Forward

With just over a week before the NBA trade deadline, Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri confirmed what everyone has been speculating about, he’s looking for a power forward at the trade deadline.

“We understand that there is a window in the NBA now, but I think that patience sometimes matters, but we’ll see what comes up at the deadline,” Ujiri said on “The Starters” Wednesday in Toronto.

In response to team needs Ujiri said, “In the power forward position, we addressed the three, but unfortunately DeMarre Carroll got hurt and hopefully we get him back by the end of the season, but that power forward position has always been a position that we need to get better. We understand that so we’ll try and figure that out whether that’s now or in the summer.”

 

 

The list of potential trade targets is fairly long: Nets Thaddeus Young, Pelicans Ryan Anderson, Suns Markieff Morris and/or P.J. Tucker, Nuggets Kenneth Faried, and even the Hawks Al Horford. Then there will be potential buy out candidates like the Celtics David Lee to consider post trade deadline and how about the Raptors own NBA D-League All-Star Ronald Roberts Jr.?

The list is likely to get even longer as teams begin to accept the fact that what they’ve got isn’t working, changes are needed and the trade deadline is coming up fast.

In Toronto, a lot could hang on just how fast DeMarre Carroll can get back in action. Carroll is a combo forward and if he’s healthy enough to play big minutes, the best Raptors lineups this season have been some version of small ball. Sliding Carroll to the four with three guards and a big was always envisioned as this team’s best chance of taking things to another level, so Ujiri could, once again, opt for patience to see what he’s got already.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

The Myth American Athletes Pay More Tax In Toronto Blown Away

Every now and then somebody tries to explain the inability of the Toronto Blue Jays, Raptors or Maple Leafs to land some available big name free agent using Canada’s exceedingly high personal income tax rates. That overly simplified explanation couldn’t be further from the truth. While income tax rates vary widely between individual provinces and states, there is no escaping federal taxes in either Country and that’s the really big nut in this discussion.

There would be no point in trying to say income taxes are simple, no one would believe it anyway. However, it should be understood that Canada and the United States have tax treaties in place that ensure their citizens only pay income taxes once. There is no double taxation and residents of one Country get tax credits for taxes paid to the other Country.

Canadians are almost undoubtedly unaware that the highest personal tax rate in the U.S. at the federal level is a comparatively shocking 39.6 percent plus US citizens pay an additional 2.35 percent Medicare tax. That’s about 42 percent before getting to local and state income taxes.

In Canada, the highest marginal tax rate is only 29 percent. Unfortunately, if you live in Toronto, provincial taxes will bump that as high as 49.53 percent.

Now it’s been true for a long time that if you are comparing Toronto to New York or Los Angeles, you’d be splitting hairs as far as your personal income tax bill goes when earning a top athletes’ salary. The difference comes when players start considering the income tax free states like Florida or Texas, but it’s not as big a difference as first impressions would lead one to believe.

Crowe Soberman (actual tax experts) have done some great examples using the Blue Jays in 2013 and the Raptors in 2015. Based on these examples, if players say they are making their decisions based on personal income tax costs, they are full of something – and it smells.

Ignoring contract restructuring and using all the variables described above, we computed that the tax bill for a player who is a resident of Florida and moves from the Marlins to the Blue Jays with $100 million left on his contract is only an additional $2.7 million, over the life of the entire contract.

That’s a increased income tax cost of 2.7 percent of his contract to play in Toronto for a baseball player over playing in Florida or Texas. Pretty much no one makes a contract decision in professional sports based on that amount of money.

In basketball (and it would be safe to assume hockey would be similar), residency rules increase the no state income tax advantage, but it’s still not as big a difference as most people would assume.

We computed the tax bill for the point guard on a $12 million per year contract. Our point guard is going to pay approximately $5.92 million in taxes and social security payments per year on his contract. For comparative purposes, had that player signed with the Rockets or Heat, he would have only paid $5.12 million in taxes and social security.

While that’s slightly more than double what the baseball player would be hit with, it is still only 6.67 percent of the contract and that’s a number the team, the player and his agent should be able to easily handle in negotiations. The advantage of teams in income tax free jurisdictions certainly isn’t overwhelming or untenable.

These discussions are not unique to Toronto either. Pretty much every team outside of Florida and Texas has to deal with the same issue. In the basketball example, Crowe Soberman calculates the player would be $63,000 better off in New York and $70,000 worse off in Los Angeles and no one raises personal income tax rates as an impediment to attracting professional athletes to those markets.

This summer the Toronto Raptors managed to sign a $60 million free agent without a whisper about Canadian tax rates. The issue shouldn’t come up with hockey players either. However, the Blue Jays have ‘rented’ All-Star pitcher David Price for the playoff drive and some of the talking heads are suggesting the team will have to significantly outbid US teams in free agency to keep him because of the income tax differences. Don’t believe them. If Price decides not to sign in Toronto, personal income taxes will not be the deciding factor. All it takes is a little information to blow that myth away.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.