On the Road with Mike: Toronto at New Jersey

After a disappointing run landed Toronto near the bottom of the heap last season, they’ve returned to form and are on track to reach the playoffs this year. No doubt Jay Triano and his coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for the turnaround. I caught up with Raptors’ assistant coaches Marc Iavaroni and Alex English during the shootaround prior to Friday’s Nets vs. Raptors matchup. Marc was one of my assistants with the Cavaliers for a couple years before joining Pat Riley and the Heat down in Miami. A veteran of the NBA himself, Marc did an excellent job developing our young, big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Vitaly Potapenko.

In addition to boasting an incredible NBA career, Alex English remains one of the great personalities in the league and a genuinely nice person. I spent some time with the Hall-of-Famer in Italy during the mid-eighties when we had the opportunity to participate in the country’s biggest youth basketball camp, which was hosted in the quaint resort town Salsomaggiore Terme. We had a terrific time over there. The camp was well-run and well-organized; the kids were super; and from the just baked breads to zabaglione prepared tableside every meal we sat down to at the Grand Hotel was a real treat. I found an old article about the camp and the evolution of Italian basketball in the SI Vault – you can read it here.

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