Leo Rautins to be replaced by Alvin Williams on Raptors broadcasts for Sportsnet — but will return to TSN

There has not been a longer-lasting voice associated with the Raptors than that of Leo Rautins, whose extended run as a television analyst for the NBA team has come to an end.Rautins, involved in the team’s TV coverage since its inception in 1995, will be replaced on Sportsnet telecasts this year by former Raptors point guard Alvin Williams, the team and network announced Thursday.It ends an incomparable run for the 61-year-old from Toronto, who played 32 games for Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NBA and had a highly successful career in Europe after leaving Syracuse University.The network sent out a glowing thank you on its corporate Twitter feed, calling Rautins a “beloved member” of the crew: “We count ourselves lucky to have had you on our team. Thank you Leo!” But an unceremonious announcement by press release would seem to run counter to what he’s provided the network over the years. Rautins worked alongside all of the team’s broadcasters — from his long-time Toronto pal, the late John Saunders, to Rod Black, Chuck Swirsky and most recently Matt Devlin.While his run on Sportsnet has ended, Rautins tweeted that he would return on TSN and thanked his fans.“Huge thanks to all for your kind words and thoughts — I am beyond touched and humbled! I will be back on TSN’s Raptors broadcasts this season — more info to come — and I’m ready for another fun & exciting year — my 27th!! #dayoner #livingthedream,” he tweeted, with a meme that read “the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”Rautins has also been a member and coach of Canada’s senior men’s basketball team, and is recognized far and wide as one of the iconic personalities in the game in this country.Williams, meanwhile, moves into a game analyst job after doing significant work as a TV reporter and studio guest. The 47-year-old from Philadelphia is considered one of the top Raptors of all time, appearing in 417 games over eight seasons.The departure of Rautins, though, is the significant news of the day given his long-standing relationship with the franchise. Good broadcasters entertain and inform and sometimes inflame. Rautins did all of those, somehow surviving more than a quarter of a century in what can be a harsh business. That will be his broadcast legacy, and it’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing his years of service.Rautins was a lightning rod for Raptors fans with his style, which let people into his personal life with a heavy dose of social media content. It may not have sat well with all fans and viewers, but it gave his telecasts a familiar touch.Raptors broadcasts, starting with the Oct. 20 home opener against Washington, will still have a familiar feel. Devlin returns as the play-by-play voice for all 82 games, and will be alongside Jack Armstrong for 41 games on TSN.TSN, oddly, did not mention a single broadcaster in a release trumpeting its 41-game schedule. There was no mention of either Devlin or Armstrong — both announced by the team — or the studio lineup, sideline reporter or radio crew. Rautins had worked in the TSN studio with Black and Sam Mitchell, who has just re-signed with NBA-TV to return as an in-studio analyst.Sportsnet, meanwhile, announced its entire Raptors lineup. Amy Audibert, a long-time member of the Raptors 905 G League broadcast crew, will take over as the sideline TV reporter, with Brad Fay working with Sherman Hamilton and Danielle Michaud on pre-game and halftime shows.Eric Smith and Paul Jones will do 41 games on radio for Sportsnet. The Raptors said Jones and Hamilton will work on 41 TSN Radio shows, but the network did not.Sept. 24, 2021 — Update: This story has been changed from a previously published version with the latest news that Rautins says he will return to TSN. Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Leo Rautins to be replaced by Alvin Williams on Raptors broadcasts for Sportsnet — but will return to TSN

There has not been a longer-lasting voice associated with the Raptors than that of Leo Rautins, whose extended run as a television analyst for the NBA team has come to an end.

Rautins, involved in the team’s TV coverage since its inception in 1995, will be replaced on Sportsnet telecasts this year by former Raptors point guard Alvin Williams, the team and network announced Thursday.

It ends an incomparable run for the 61-year-old from Toronto, who played 32 games for Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NBA and had a highly successful career in Europe after leaving Syracuse University.

The network sent out a glowing thank you on its corporate Twitter feed, calling Rautins a “beloved member” of the crew: “We count ourselves lucky to have had you on our team. Thank you Leo!”

But an unceremonious announcement by press release would seem to run counter to what he’s provided the network over the years. Rautins worked alongside all of the team’s broadcasters — from his long-time Toronto pal, the late John Saunders, to Rod Black, Chuck Swirsky and most recently Matt Devlin.

While his run on Sportsnet has ended, Rautins tweeted that he would return on TSN and thanked his fans.

“Huge thanks to all for your kind words and thoughts — I am beyond touched and humbled! I will be back on TSN’s Raptors broadcasts this season — more info to come — and I’m ready for another fun & exciting year — my 27th!! #dayoner #livingthedream,” he tweeted, with a meme that read “the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”

Rautins has also been a member and coach of Canada’s senior men’s basketball team, and is recognized far and wide as one of the iconic personalities in the game in this country.

Williams, meanwhile, moves into a game analyst job after doing significant work as a TV reporter and studio guest. The 47-year-old from Philadelphia is considered one of the top Raptors of all time, appearing in 417 games over eight seasons.

The departure of Rautins, though, is the significant news of the day given his long-standing relationship with the franchise. Good broadcasters entertain and inform and sometimes inflame. Rautins did all of those, somehow surviving more than a quarter of a century in what can be a harsh business. That will be his broadcast legacy, and it’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing his years of service.

Rautins was a lightning rod for Raptors fans with his style, which let people into his personal life with a heavy dose of social media content. It may not have sat well with all fans and viewers, but it gave his telecasts a familiar touch.

Raptors broadcasts, starting with the Oct. 20 home opener against Washington, will still have a familiar feel. Devlin returns as the play-by-play voice for all 82 games, and will be alongside Jack Armstrong for 41 games on TSN.

TSN, oddly, did not mention a single broadcaster in a release trumpeting its 41-game schedule. There was no mention of either Devlin or Armstrong — both announced by the team — or the studio lineup, sideline reporter or radio crew. Rautins had worked in the TSN studio with Black and Sam Mitchell, who has just re-signed with NBA-TV to return as an in-studio analyst.

Sportsnet, meanwhile, announced its entire Raptors lineup. Amy Audibert, a long-time member of the Raptors 905 G League broadcast crew, will take over as the sideline TV reporter, with Brad Fay working with Sherman Hamilton and Danielle Michaud on pre-game and halftime shows.

Eric Smith and Paul Jones will do 41 games on radio for Sportsnet. The Raptors said Jones and Hamilton will work on 41 TSN Radio shows, but the network did not.

Sept. 24, 2021 — Update: This story has been changed from a previously published version with the latest news that Rautins says he will return to TSN.

Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou appearing in court Friday to resolve charges, report says

OTTAWA—A news report that U.S. justice officials are about to sign a deferred prosecution agreement with Huawei Technologies’ executive Meng Wanzhou means the long-running extradition dispute over Canada’s arrest of the Chinese corporate star could finally end.It could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases of the “two Michaels” — Kovrig and Spavor — who remain jailed in China, the latter convicted on national security charges and Kovrig, the Canadian diplomat on leave, who remains in limbo.Reuters reported Friday that Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver since her Dec. 2018 arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant, is to make a surprise virtual appearance in a New York courtroom.Canadian officials would not immediately confirm the report.However, if the reports are true, the U.S. authorities would have to formally withdraw the request made through Global Affairs.Meng’s arrest, and unrelated allegations that Huawei has also been stealing American intellectual property, have become a major irritant between the U.S. and China, two superpower economies. Canada has been caught between them.U.S. authorities charged Meng with fraud, based on allegations she misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against that country.Based on those charges, the RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver, and days later Chinese authorities arrested Michael Kovrig, who was a Canadian diplomat on leave working with International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a China-based Canadian businessman who worked to build business ties with South Korea. Meng has been under house arrest, out on bail, and living in one of her two glamourous Vancouver mansions.If all charges are dropped, as well as the extradition request, she could be free to leave Canada as early as Friday.A Canadian justice department official told the Star that "We are aware of the current situation in the United States regarding Meng Wanzhou," but directed all questions on "the specifics of this proceeding should be direted to the U.S. Department of Justice."The Prime Minister's Office refused any comment on the developments.More to come.Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou appearing in court Friday to resolve charges, report says

OTTAWA—A news report that U.S. justice officials are about to sign a deferred prosecution agreement with Huawei Technologies’ executive Meng Wanzhou means the long-running extradition dispute over Canada’s arrest of the Chinese corporate star could finally end.

It could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases of the “two Michaels” — Kovrig and Spavor — who remain jailed in China, the latter convicted on national security charges and Kovrig, the Canadian diplomat on leave, who remains in limbo.

Reuters reported Friday that Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver since her Dec. 2018 arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant, is to make a surprise virtual appearance in a New York courtroom.

Canadian officials would not immediately confirm the report.

However, if the reports are true, the U.S. authorities would have to formally withdraw the request made through Global Affairs.

Meng’s arrest, and unrelated allegations that Huawei has also been stealing American intellectual property, have become a major irritant between the U.S. and China, two superpower economies. Canada has been caught between them.

U.S. authorities charged Meng with fraud, based on allegations she misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against that country.

Based on those charges, the RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver, and days later Chinese authorities arrested Michael Kovrig, who was a Canadian diplomat on leave working with International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a China-based Canadian businessman who worked to build business ties with South Korea.

Meng has been under house arrest, out on bail, and living in one of her two glamourous Vancouver mansions.

If all charges are dropped, as well as the extradition request, she could be free to leave Canada as early as Friday.

A Canadian justice department official told the Star that "We are aware of the current situation in the United States regarding Meng Wanzhou," but directed all questions on "the specifics of this proceeding should be direted to the U.S. Department of Justice."

The Prime Minister's Office refused any comment on the developments.

More to come.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Source : Toronto Star More   

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