Dodging around a corner when the boss is coming or feigning activity when people are watching is a workplace tradition, accountability and actually producing being so damn hard.
A day at the office for the Toronto Raptors is no different.
Who wants to stick around when your team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak and barely hanging on to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference?
Not Hedo Turkoglu.
After a rare and public postpractice dose of extra shooting, Turkoglu took the wily veteran's route to avoid uncomfortable questions: He slipped out while the media were surrounding Chris Bosh, the franchise player, left to explain himself to the unruly masses in the midst of the finest season of his career.
Does the Raptors' slide indict him as an NBA star in a league where teams are often only as good as their best player?
"No," he said.
"What else do you want me to do? Score 30, 40 points a game? Twenty blocks a game? That's not my game. That's not what I do," added Bosh, who has played below his standard since returning from an ankle injury but still leads the Raptors in scoring, rebounding and overall efficiency by shocking margins on a roster devoid of a proper secondary star, Turkoglu notwithstanding.
Yelling and screaming is a waste of breath, I've always felt. We're professionals. If you want to scream at a bunch of grown men, good luck. Chris Bosh
Similarly, head coach Jay Triano explained why he had called a practice - for the first time in memory - the day after back-to-back games during a West Coast trip. He gamely tried to do this without embarrassing his players, even though the players haven't done much to avoid embarrassing him.
Triano could have tried to flex the muscle some think he doesn't have in a ham-handed display of who's the boss. Instead, he chose to explain the basketball equivalent of a bag skate by simply suggesting it was a matter of logistics: Working them hard Monday could make for an easy day Tuesday and a fresh team Wednesday night when the Raptors meet the Atlanta Hawks.
Bosh bought it.
"It was a teaching tone," he said of Triano's mood in practice. "It's the right tone. Yelling and screaming is a waste of breath, I've always felt. We're professionals. If you want to scream at a bunch of grown men, good luck."
But who slipped out of the gym as all eyes were on the embattled rookie head coach?
That would be Bryan Colangelo, the team president, general manager and architect of a house once again badly listing.
To his credit, Colangelo did eventually pause to answer for a roster questionable enough that it appears rookie DeMar DeRozan - the sacrificial lamb most often requested by those seeking a shake-up to the starting lineup - will maintain his starting job tomorrow night because the rival candidates are, in descending order of preference, Sonny Weems, Antoine Wright and someone playing in the NBA Development League right now.
"What did I say at the beginning of the year?" Colangelo said, referring to the Raptors' 7-13 start, which gave way to a 24-11 middle, which in turn has given way to a disturbing 1-9 slump with the finish line in sight.
"I said blame me. I'm the one who put them together. I'm the guy. If you want to blame someone, blame me."
Who could Colangelo blame, were he in the mood?
Well, he could start with Turkoglu, who took his five-year, $53-million (all currency U.S.) deal but has yet to earn it.
Then Colangelo could look to Andrea Bargnani, the enigmatic seven-footer who has at times appeared to be a bargain for the five-year, $50-million contract extension Colangelo gave him last summer in an eight-figure show of faith.
In Sunday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Bargnani was embarrassed at the hands of LaMarcus Aldridge, who was taken second overall in the 2006 draft to Bargnani's No.1.
"That was disappointing," said Colangelo, the closest he's ever come to pointing his finger at Bargnani.
And where was Bargnani while all this was going on?
Nowhere to be found.
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