The Toronto Raptors kick off their NBA regular season tomorrow night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. I enjoy following the Raptors, and have been doing so since day one, but I don't know Raptors basketball the way Kic knows Raptors basketball.
Throughout this season, I've asked the Kicster to submit guest blog entries about the Raps. This is the first. Btw, at the time Kic wrote this, the Leafs were in fact winless.
To be a sports fan in Toronto these days seems to be a joke. The Blue Jays teased the city with a potential playoff appearance early in the MLB season but reality kicked in and they ended up finishing 4th (yet again) in the American League East. The Argos (I think some people in this city follow them) have been absolutely horrendous this season and even our rivals to the west have been better than us. The TFC were the one team where many Toronto sports fans thought they could root for and had potential to make their first playoff appearance, but low and behold they ended up choking in an embarrassing loss to the Red Bulls. Do I even have to mention the winless Toronto Maple Leafs? Nope, I've heard all of the jokes so let's move on.
Enter the 2009-2010 Toronto Raptors. In a city where many forget what it's like to watch playoff sports, the Toronto Raptors definitely have high expectations and maybe even some new fans because of the lack of winning in Toronto. A lot of new faces have been brought into the Red and Black Raps, in case you forgot they are:
- DeMar DeRozan
- Reggie Evans
- Jarrett Jack
- Amir Johnson
- Rasho Nesterovic (yup he's back)
- Hedo Turkoglu
- Sonny Weems
- Antoine Wright
The first thing many people look at is the pre-season record for the Raps, yes they went 2-6 and their rivals (see Vince and the Magic) were unbeaten, but, if we went by pre-season records the Leafs would have more than 1 point by now. People have to remember, Colangelo added 8 new players to the Raps lineup and it takes more than just 8 games to gel. Expect, Chris Bosh to have a monster season, he added 15 lbs, is in his contract year and continues to be the other guy in the class of 2010. Not only did the Raps address their bench issues, they now have a bona fide clutch play with Turkoglu, this guys is as clutch as it gets. Rebounding is still an issue that many Raps fans have and with Reggie Evans still nursing a foot injury, many feel that this is Toronto's Achilles heel. Many American as well as Canadian sports paper's have the Raptors finishing no better than 6th, but in a weak East things can change, quickly.
The Raps do however, have a tough schedule to begin the season, that and the combination of 8 new players may lead to a same old losing mentality in Toronto. However, I think CB4 is a man on a mission, Bargs is going to continue last year's late season success and a healthy Jose is going get things done.
The test for the 09-10 Raps begins this week when they face that Lebron guy with his new big man, and Dwight and Wince this week. But Toronto fans fear not, as I am predicting this will be the only Toronto team playing in late April next year. And that's one thing I am certain of.
Kic sent me an angry Blackberry message the other day. "Where's the Raptors love? We're going to be awesome with Marco Belinelli in the lineup next year!"
Truth be told, I wasn't sure what a Marco Belinelli was. It turns out the Toronto Raptors acquired shooting guard Marco Belinelli from the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations and forward Devean George. Belinelli, 23, averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 21 minutes in 42 games last season, his second in the NBA.
I dig the Raps, I really do, but this is Kic's department. Here's his thoughts.
Ok BC is a smart GM, he signed Jarrett Jack (who's Bosh's friend from college). BC went and got Belinelli who is great friends with Bargs. Since Bargs just signed an extention BC wants to keep his core players. Yes, they may have overpaid for Jarrett Jack but if that keeps Bosh happy, then he has a better chance to resign him in the summer. Belinelli is still young and cheaper than Delfino. This is a solid team and has a better bench than the Kings starting 5
I think that's bananas.
I just read an article about Ed O'Bannon who's suing the NCAA over its use of former student athletes' images in DVDs, video games, photographs, apparel and other material. Every time I hear the name Ed O'Bannon, I remember the lesson he taught us Raptor fans in the mid-90s.
The Toronto Raptors were an expansion team back in 1995 and we had the seventh pick in the NBA Draft Lottery that summer. The draft was held at SkyDome, so plenty of Raptor fans were in attendance. The Vancouver Grizzlies picked Bryant "Big Country" Reeves at #6 and there was no doubt who the fans wanted us to draft at #7.
Ed O'Bannon had a monster 1995 in the NCAA for UCLA. He was the key to UCLA's 1995 NCAA Basketball Championship, winning the John R. Wooden Award as well as the Oscar Robertson Trophy that year. We knew Ed O'Bannon, he was a household name, and we wanted him to be our first ever draft pick.
Isiah Thomas selected Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of the University of Arizona, and the fans at SkyDome booed. I watched it live and I remember the boos. O'Bannon went to the Nets at #9.
The Toronto Raptors have confirmed their acquisition of forward Hedo Turkoglu. This is likely the most significant free agent addition in the team's history, and it's no coincidence Turkoglu is a non-American.
Turkoglu's agent Lon Babby said the player and his wife Banu were intrigued by Toronto's ethnic diversity, including a large Turkish community. Turkoglu joins Andrea Bargnani, José Calderón, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Roko Ukić as non-Americans on our roster.
Toronto, a cultural mosaic with a diverse populous, has little trouble attracting players like Turkoglu. It's the Americans who would rather play elsewhere.
Welcome to Toronto, Hedo. Sadece bebeğim kazanın!
I follow Chris Bosh on Twitter. He just made an interesting announcement that he's signed a contract with.... Warner Music.
That's right, it's not an extension with the Toronto Raptors, an announcement most of us are hoping for, but an agreement with Warner Music Canada to produce a unique DVD and CD to be released in the fall of 2009. Chris Bosh also claims to be the first athlete in the world to launch his own application for iPhone and iPod touch on the Apple App Store.
The Chris Bosh branded CD will be a compilation of some of his favourite music along with new recordings from emerging artists. In a unique move, Chris is giving new, unsigned artists a chance to submit material for consideration on the compilation. Artists can submit their music through an interactive form on www.chris-bosh.com .
I haven't seen a Raptor this busy with extracurricular activities since Vince Carter attended his useless graduation ceremony the day of game seven of the conference semi-finals. We all know how that worked out...
My city is a city of losers. At least when it comes to our primary professional sports teams. We suck.
Our Maple Leafs of the NHL are 27-28-13, which puts us 11th in the conference and well outside the playoffs.
Our Raptors of the NBA are 23-42, which puts us 14th in the conference and well outside the playoffs.
Our Blue Jays of MLB were 86-76, which put us 4th in the division and well outside the playoffs.
Our Argos of the CFL were 4-14, which put us 3rd in the division and well outside the playoffs.
Our Bills of the NFL were 7-9, which put us 4th in the division and well outside the playoffs.
There is little hope for any of the above. In fact, I'm willing to bet all miss the playoffs again next season.
Welcome to Loserville.
For no particularly good reason, I wanted to revisit the Toronto Raptors' inaugural season. Alvin Robertson scored the first basket in franchise history and we went on to beat the New Jersey Nets 94-78 at SkyDome that magical opening night. I remember tuning in and realizing I was going to witness the birth of a Toronto professional sports franchise, something I didn't get to do with the Leafs or Jays.
Here's that inaugural Raptors team that went 21–61 in 1995-96
3 Zan Tabak
4 Vicenzo Esposito
7 Alvin Robertson
9 Tony Massenburg
9 Sharone Wright
13 Doug Christie
20 Damon Stoudamire
22 John Salley
23 DeWayne Whitfield
24 Jimmy King
30 Oliver Miller
32 Herb Williams
33 Carlos Rogers
35 Tracy Murray
40 Willie Anderson
44 Martin Lewis
52 Victor Alexander
54 Ed Pinckney
55 Acie Earl
Named NBA's coach of the year a little over one season ago, Sam Mitchell has been fired as head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He's been replaced on an interim basis by Jay Triano, a Niagara Falls, Ontario native best known for coaching the Canadian men's team from 1998-2004.
I'm sorry to see Smitch go, but this team was in danger of being left for good in that wasteland between the contenders and horrible. On a positive note, Jay Triano is now the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history.
As I watch the Leafs play New Jersey, I realize I missed the first Raptors game of the 2008/2009 season. I've been a big Raptors fan since day one, but during the winter they're the second best game in town. That's pretty unfair to the Raps, who have a nice team and might even win a playoff round this season, whilst the Leafers shouldn't get a sniff at the playoffs. But the Raps knew the score when they showed up 13 years ago.
As the Raptors season tips off, I just wanted to throw down a couple of Raptors notes. Firstly, I wanted to promote Doug Smith's Toronto Raptors Blog. Smith writes for the Toronto Star and has been covering Raptors basketball since our inaugural season, and I look to him for analysis and insight. His blog is interesting and informative, and I see he even live blogged tonight's game. If you like the Raps, subscribe to http://thestar.blogs.com/raptors/rss.xml.
Secondly, I thought I'd let you in on something cool Google does when you search for raptors. The first result is the box score from the most recent game, and the opponent and date of the next game. Soon I'll be Googling where I left my keys.
25 regular season Raptors games are going to be televised on TSN2. There's only one problem with that. If your cable provider is Rogers, as mine is, you can't get TSN2.
This is a great deal worse than throwing the games on RaptorsTV, because at least a Raptors fan can get RaptorsTV. The only way to get these 25 Raptor games is to change service providers to Bell or one of several regional companies, including Cogeco.
Rogers and TSN, let's make a deal.
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