The Raptors are NBA champs and the euphoria – several days since the clinching victory – has been intoxicating. It’s simply sweeter than nectar.
Much has been written. Pundits, reporters, bloggers. Everyone has shared their thoughts on the importance of this incredible achievement.
So maybe we don’t need another swimmer in an overcrowded pool. But my head is spinning and I need to channel all these thoughts and feelings.
It’s the spring of 1996 and a 13-year-old grade seven student is walking home from school. He’s actually excited about starting his homework. The Raptors were playing a rare weekday afternoon match at Skydome; 4pm tipoff. The Boston Celtics were the opponents.
He had everything planned out: Get home, have a quick snack, sit down, put the radio on CFRB and listen to the game while working on his math and geography.
But when he sat down at his desk and turned on the radio, he was met with disappointment.
Someone at CFRB decided regular afternoon programming was more important than a live NBA match. The game was to be recorded and aired at 7pm.
Life wasn’t easy for a fan of an expansion team.
Before DeMar, Kyle and Kawhi, there was Damon, Vince and Chris.
I fell in love with Damon, but he didn’t want to be a Raptor. I hated him, but ultimately forgave him.
I fell in love with Vince; so did the rest of the country. Vince solidified the team’s roots. He also christened the ACC (as it was known at the time).
But then Vince decided he didn’t want to be a Raptor. I despised him for many years.
But the grudge faded over time and I forgave him. Now, it’s all love and respect. Without Vince, none of this happens. I truly believe in a “Carter Effect.”
I fell in love with Chris. He proved there was life after Vince. Chris (or CB4) brought the first banner and was a different version of a “fun guy.”
Unfortunately, the team that surrounded Chris wasn’t great and the window of opportunity closed. He became a free agent and also took his talents to South Beach. Some were pissed, but I wasn’t. I made peace with his departure before it actually happened. Chris gave everything he had to the Raptors and earned the right to decide who to play for.
I’ve been thinking about DeMar.
And I’ve been thinking about the players that didn’t work out: Camby, TMac, Il Mago, Hakeem, Peja, Hedo (BALL!), Kapono.
And I’ve been thinking about the players that wanted nothing to do with the Raptors. Looking at you, Kenny Anderson and Zo.
And I’ve been thinking about the fan favourites: Doug Christie, Charlie V, AD, TJ Ford, AP, Joey Graham, Jose, Jamario Moon, Pops, Pape, The Big O, Amir, MoPete, Alvin, JYD, Red Rocket, Reggie Evans, Greivis, etc.*
And I’ve been thinking about all the coaches, especially Smitch and Coach Casey.
What a journey it has been!
Kawhi, if this is the end, thank you. You came, you saw, you conquered.
Game six was the perfect definition of a team effort.
Who better to carry the “Larry OB” on Parade Day than Kyle Lowry.
His performance in game six was outstanding. He’s been the heart and soul of the Raptors for several seasons. He’s also been the barometer of the fan base. Things go right? Praise Kyle! Things go wrong? Blame Kyle. We’re all guilty of it.
After game one’s loss to Orlando, the anger directed towards Lowry on social media was vicious. The fan base was furious and wanted a pound of flesh.
Safe to say Lowry redeemed himself since then.
When did the “We The North” era begin?
For me, it’s the Rudy Gay trade. Masai Ujiri decided it was time to rebuild, but something different happened.
Something. Completely. Different.
Please enjoy everything that occurred the last couple of months. Savour it. Cherish it. Basque in it. The worst thing you can do is take it for granted.
It’s said that flags fly forever. I believe beautiful memories last forever as well.
I don’t care how cheesy that sounds. The Raptors are NBA champs!
*Thanks to those who pointed out a few omissions.