For eighteen long and excruciating years, fans of the Toronto Raptors had to wait for their moment; that moment which lives on for an eternity.
We were finally rewarded in game seven against the Philadelphia 76rs on May 12, 2019. That celestial moment should henceforth be known simply as “the shot.” For every Raptors fan watching that game with baited breathe it was a thrilling, spine-tingling sensational moment. Before May 12, 2019 the most memorable thing that had happened to the franchise was a slam dunk contest won in 2000 by Vince Carter. Oh, and a missed shot by the same player in 2001 that lost the series to the Bucks in game seven. This has been the sentiment of many fans and sportswriters; there’s really not much to commemorate. Not much to even bother remembering, really.
Oh, how times have changed. With the arrival of superstar Kawhi Leonard and his nonchalant infusion of urgent play that galvanizes these Raptors, we as fans now improbably find ourselves a mere two wins away from the NBA finals. This was probably beyond the realm of belief for even the most die-hard fan given the travails we’ve faced over the last few years. Let’s face it – it’s been all about disappointment. We’ve witnessed a ton of sobering moments over the last eighteen years and it’s been a long and frustrating road for loyalists of this team.
We’ve had trades, injuries, changes in coaching and a plethora of rumors to last a lifetime. All or most of which have left Raptors fans scratching their heads, cursing at the television, throwing a tantrum at their phones, and mostly cheering and applauding. It all depends on perspective. It may also depend on the level of fandom.
We are now in a new era. This is a fresh start. It seems that the ghosts of seasons past are no longer haunting us. It seems that the team under new leadership, both on and off the court, have found their drive, their passion, their focus.
I know that there are games left to play. I know this is far from over. However, I find myself wondering if this season will spark something inside of each and every player that may have been dimmed before. We all know that Leonard could leave, and that would leave the city heartbroken. He’s playing inspired (and invested!) basketball through and through, and I believe he’s staying. But IF he does decide to go, I think he’ll leave behind a franchise that’s been reignited, refocused and rejuvenated – and that’s a gift to be thankful for, knowing that his legacy will be propelling basketball in Toronto to never-before-seen heights and glory.
There may be more trades and such in the future. There will be more uphill battles to fight. There will definitely be more jeers and cheers to spread around, and whether you’ve been there through the purple, red, white, black, Raptor logo or no logo jerseys, or you’re a new and emerging fan in 2019; one thing is for certain – win or lose it all, this season will never be forgotten. Kawhi’s shot will be a preserved and admired moment in sports history forever, and we as fans new or old can say we witnessed it and were a part of it.
Eighteen years is a lifetime to wait for a long suffering fan. 2019 marks a new and wonderful beginning. I think our drought is finally over.