In yet another attempt at previewing an upcoming season of the Toronto Raptors, I remain indifferent to all the mindless optimism that grips so many in the off-season.
The inaccuracy of my preview of the 2008-09 “Craptors” left me hesitant to scribble something up for the struggling team this season. However, my analysis this time around will be less forgiving.
A Raptors fan since their induction to the NBA in 1995, I have realized the difference between Raptors fans and the rest of the NBA’s fanatics: we’re stupid. While the rest of the NBA teams’ followers bitch and complain about losing championship games or drafting the wrong players, we sit back and cheer for mediocrity.
We cheer and support Andrea Bargnani, a former first round pick who has done nothing but solidify himself as an inconsistent role player in the NBA. At the same time, elsewhere in North America, Dallas Mavericks fans are calling for former MVP Dirk Nowitzki’s head for losing in last year’s playoffs.
We jump around and hug each other when we do make the playoffs but when Canada’s only team inevitably gets knocked out (usually early first round), we don’t get upset or voice complaints about our players. In true Canadian fashion, we just say, “That was a nice try, eh?” and return to watching hockey.
As much as I hate being so damn hopeful, the Raptors had a terrific off-season; Bryan Colangelo did a great job. Adding Hedo Turkoglu finally gives the Raps a consistent scoring option in the three spot and will complement the athletic rookie swing-man Demar DeRozan quite nicely.
After an impressive freshman season at the University of Southern California and notable summer league performances, DeRozan hopes to provide the athleticism Toronto has been missing on the wing since “Wince” Carter left.
Adding Jarrett Jack gives Toronto a solid option in the guard position too. Jack is a change of pace from Jose, and has good strength as a point guard and vision at the top of the key. Still, he’s been in the league for four years and, contrary to his name, really hasn’t done jack.
While Colangelo certainly has answered some burning questions in the busy ’09 off-season, some still remain unanswered. Will Bargnani continue to improve and become the perennial all-star fans expected? Will Jose Calderon finally do something and learn to score, play defence, or consistently win already? And the big one: is Chris Bosh going to stay?
Why wouldn’t Bosh want to stay? He plays in a city that loves him and praises him for being above average and for not falling below the bar like the rest of his teammates. In New York or Los Angeles, Bosh would have already been booed all the way over to Europe.
I love Bosh, but he’s not a young potential superstar anymore. He scores points, grabs boards and makes all-star games but there’s one thing that separates a superstar from a good player: a superstar wins. Bosh is a great player.
As much as I hated leaking my excitement for this coming year into the Raps season preview, I’m aware it did. But this year, I’m not jumping around like a giddy freshman at Welcome Week. No more hype, no more gimmicks.
While you other Raptors fans scream, cheer and condone being average, I stand tall in refusal. I have turned away from the hype and turned on my brain. I’m sitting back with my arms crossed and watching. It’s time the rest of Raptor Nation does the same. There’s a lot of room beside me when you’re ready.
graphic Eli Gana
*Correction: The article originally stated that DeMar DeRozan played at the University of South Carolina when, in fact, he played at the University of Southern California.