Tag Archives: toronto raptors

A Title 24 Years in the Making

I still can’t believe I’m saying this.

The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions.

Last Thursday night was the peak of my sports fandom. Having been a Toronto sports fan my whole life there were certainly more losses than wins.

This playoff run has been both both biggest rush and one of the most mentally taxing stretches. They say “act like you’ve been there before” but I literally haven’t been there before. The emotional toll that a playoff run puts you through is something I’ve never had to experience. Usually when my teams make the playoffs it’s like ripping off a band-aid and they get eliminated right away.

This year in retrospect this year was an absolute roller coaster. From the initial Kawhi trade, to the “load management” regular season, losing Game One of the playoffs to Orlando, Philadelphia taking it to seven games, “The Shot”, Milwaukee’s 2-0 series lead in the Conference Finals, Toronto charging back and winning four straight to advance to the Finals, the Klay injury, the Durant injury, the other Klay injury, the Game 6 win…nevermind foul was called before the inbound, Kawhi shoots free throws and then…

Pure bliss.

Best pictures from the Championship Parade

Kawhi Leonard’s championship style.

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Kyle Lowry gazes at the sea of fans.

Steve Russell / Toronto Star

Kawhi Leonard holds his MVP trophy while celebrating with Drake.

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Gerry Angus/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Albert Leung/CBC

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Kawhi Leonard is happy.

Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

NICK TURCHIARO/USA TODAY SPORTS VIA REUTERS

MELISSA TAIT/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

My Blue Jays and Maple Leafs fandom is something that I was born into. My dad and grandpa were die hard fans so I would be remiss not to follow those loveable losers into the abyss. I used to bike over to my grandpa’s place on MLB Opening Day and the first Leafs game of the season, kick my feet up and watch the season end just as it started. My Grandpa and I were always optimistic that the likes of Alex Steen and Aaron Hill were the keys to turning their respective Toronto franchises around.

But when it comes to the Raptors, that is a team that I felt that  picked. Which isn’t necessarily a better feeling–I would be an absolute puddle to see the Blue Jays win a World Series or watch Auston Matthews lift the Stanley Cup–but it’s just a different feeling.

Growing up playing basketball in a small, hockey-dominated town, my buddies and I were a group of Raptors fans very much in the minority at the time. The Leafs could look for the right pieces to surround Sundin, we were looking for a point guard for Chris Bosh. The Leafs had Joe Bowen and Bob Cole, we had Chuck Swirsky and Jack Armstrong.

My Top 10 Fringy Raptors

10. Aaron Gray: Tall White Sideline Guy #1
9. Greg Stiemsma: Tall White Sideline Guy #2
8. Pops Mensah-Bonsu: Most Memorable Name for a forgettable player
7. Fred Jones: people forget he won a Dunk Contest
6. Reggie Evans: All Grit First Team
5. Jason Kapono: 3 Point Champion
4. Chuck Hayes: CHUCK HAYES!
3. Jorge Garbajosa: Sometimes the brightest flames burn the shortest
2. Sonny Weems: Clarence Weems AKA Money Sonny AKA Euro League All-Star
1. Jamario Moon: Former Globe Trotter

Being the white, incredibly short, slow, shooting guard that I was, I spent my fair share of time on the bench. My Italian buddy Mikey G would accompany me at the end of the bench. Honestly he’s probably an even big a bigger Raptors fan than me.

At the end of the bench we’d do our best Chuck Swirsky imitations and call play-by-play whenever our mediocre basketball team would sink a few shots. “Onions baby onions!” “Bring out the salami and cheese mama! This one is over!” And when the game in front of us inevitably get boring–usually in the middle of the third quarter of a 30 point dismantling–we’d develop blueprints in order to turn the Raptors around.

“In limited minutes Linas Kleiza has been a stud. If we start playing him more maybe we can catch a few teams napping.” “I for one think Sonny Weems needs more rope.” “Honestly Bargnani might be kind of lazy. But if he can build a bit of a game around his jumper he can be a poor man’s Dirk.”

Yeah we are idiots.

When the clock hit 0:00 in that Game 6 the first call I got a call was from that glorious idiot Mikey G. “We did it bud. Holy shit we did it.” Just an absolutely poetic moment shared between a couple of morons.

My top five Raptors moments

5. Demar DeRozan, “I am Toronto”

We may not have been able to get over the hump with Demar, but his fingerprints were all over this championship team. He was the first All-Star to embrace Toronto and actually decide to stay. Years of watching guys like Carter, McgGrady and Bosh leave for “greener pastures” left Toronto feeling like an ugly step-sister NBA franchise. Nobody wanted to be in Canada… until Demar.

4. “Fuck Brooklyn”

This was five years ago! The first “We the North”. The first “Jurassic Park”. This Raptors playoff team just felt different than the last iterations led by Carter or Bosh. It was a frisky team that the city rallied behind and really set the wheels in motion for what we witnessed last week.

3. I don’t know what to call this but it gave me chills

2. Kyle lifts the “Larry O’B”

Image result for kyle lowry champion

After the Raptors ownership group got the first hoist, Serge and Masai made sure that Kyle was the first Raptor to get his hands on the trophy. The guy is the last man standing from the first “We The North” 2013-14 team. For all of the heat he’s taken in years past over his ability to rise to the playoffs, it’s just poetic that Kyle led the way with 26 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

1 A Kawhi’s Shot

As wild and exciting as Game 6 was last night, this shot–this crazy unrepeatable shot–was the defining moment of Toronto’s championship run. I’ve watched a lot of Raptors basketball and this shot just doesn’t go in. This moment signified that this year was different.

1 B Kawhi’s Laugh

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1140715624227696640

Now this whole piece might come off as the ravings and ramblings of a lunatic, but honestly watching the Raptors for two decades will do that to you. This championship just means so much. It’s just been a wave of pure elation. Cheering for the Toronto Raptors, through their ups and down, has been one of the most profoundly satisfying aspects of my life.

This joy for this Toronto Raptors championship is the cumulation of years of my love for the game of basketball. Driving to tournaments with my parents, practicing fade aways and post hooks in the driveway with my brother, not to mention the countless people I’ve connected with through the sport.

This in of itself is the essence of this Toronto Raptors team. It has just brought so many people together across Toronto, across Ontario and across Canada. It’s a beautiful thing. This was apparent when my brother and I took the whole day off to get into Jurassic Park for Game One of the Finals. In the area the were thousands of fans of different ages and races all brought together by the Toronto Raptors.

Look no further than that Raptors team itself to see how a trivial game can bring people together. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam rose out of Africa to play on basketball’s greatest stage. Spaniard Marc Gasol finally got his first championship at age 34. Jeremy Lin was the first Asian American to win an NBA title. Undrafted Canadian Chris Boucher won a championship in the same season he locked up G League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Not a single player on the team was a lottery pick in the respective draft year. And rookie coach Nick Nurse–who started coaching coaching in 1990 for the British Basketball League’s Derby Storm–was the one to bring all of these loveable misfits together. This is one of the best and most fun professional sports teams that this city has ever seen.

Cherish every moment of this team while you can. There’s no point lamenting on the Kawhi decision more than you have to. Just soak it all in because there’s no guarantee we will ever see anything like this again.

The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions.

Jersday Blog February 21st, 2019

The Round-Up

Chris Bosh Toronto Raptors Jersey

When it was announced that Miami was retiring Bosh’s # 1, it immediately begged the question: should the Raptors retire the number of the franchise’s leader in rebounds, blocks and All-Star games (tied with Vince Carter with five if you don’t count Vince’s 2004-05 after he was traded mid-season to the Nets).

While Bosh is technically a top five player in Raptors franchise history, I think that teams should only retire players who have taken their teams somewhere or at the very least have some regular season team success. In the Chris Bosh era the Raptors only made the playoffs twice and were bounced in the first round both times. Kevin Garnett is an all-time Timberwolf(?) because he led the team to the playoffs eight times (making it as far as the Western Conference Finals in 2004) while constantly playing like an MVP candidate. Is Michael Redd a Bucks great because he was the best player on a horrendous team for almost a decade? Bosh lies somewhere in the middle of these two players and I for one would vote “no” if asked to retire his jersey.

Vince Carter Purple Raptors Jersey

Vince Carter is another interesting conversation. Nostalgia goggles have made Toronto fans all but forget the time he stabbed the team in the back and forced a trade out of town. Formerly a pariah in Tdot, public perception has shifted on Vincanity. He is now regarded as an all-time great in the city of Toronto when he was the subject of some OG jersey burning back in the day.

The case for Vince is he was the Raptors’ first superstar, he is top three in virtually every Raptors scoring records, and was a basketball cultural icon while wearing Toronto purple and black.

Image result for vince carter gif

Image result for vince carter gif

Image result for vince carter gif

I’d retire VC’s 15 before I would retire Bosh’s number 4… But I think it would be cool if they held off like a decade and retire Demar’s 10 first.

Derozan is the franchise leader in games, minutes, free throws and points; He’s the been the face of the team during the franchise’s most successful stretch and he is by far the most loyal player they’ve ever had. As unlikely as it would be, I’d love to see Demar’s number as the first Raptor in the rafters with all of the Leafs and Bon Jovi.

Rafael Palmeiro Baltimore Orioles Jersey

569 career home runs and 71.9 WAR in 20 seasons. Palmeiro is definitely one of the most understated boppers of the steroid era. Like Bonds, McGwire and Sosa, Palmeiro is another juicer that makes you wonder just how good he would’ve been had he played clean. Well we’ll never know. What we do know is Palmeiro is one of the best hitters ever and he’s not one to listen to the haters.

Image result for rafael palmeiro ear plugs

Jersey of the Week

Jack O’Callahan USA Jersey

Unreal. This jersey hits the mark. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an American, a hockey fan or even like sports. If you have a beating heart then you should’ve seen Miracle. For me it’s in my top 5 favourite sports movies. In no particular order I have: Money Ball, Miracle, The Rookie, Remember The Titans and Coach Carter.

OC’s playing baby!

 

Jersey of the Week Scoreboard:

1. @Acooksy19: 3
2. @wilsondrew17: 2
T3. @jefftrahan13: 1
T3. @phillydip4: 1
T3. @beamerr9: 1

The Weekly Jersey Dump

The only dunk worth watching in the dunk contest. Honestly what the hell was with that plane?

Cool in terms of basketball and rap culture. Pretty underwhelming dunk considering Diallo DUNKED OVER SHAQ.

Is that really much different?

 

I kind of love these jerseys. Just don’t think there’s anyone on the Marlins worth getting on a jersey.

 

I kind of need a chrome JR Flyers jersey now.

Tough look for the DO Double G. I’d throw that trash on the ice.

As a half-Irish Leafs fan this is right up my alley. I’ll need to scoop one of these puppies up.

Jersday Blog February 14, 2017

The Round-Up

Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors Jersey

Every Raptor fan’s favourite fat-turned-slim point guard has come a long way since his first years in Toronto.

Image result for kyle lowry fat

Image result for kyle lowry

In seven seasons with the Raptors Lowry has surpassed Damon Stoudemire, Muggsy Bogues and Jose Calderon to cement himself as the franchise’s premier point guard. The Lowry-Derozan era Raptors were one of the most successful stretches in franchise history. Who knows how long the Kawhi era lasts and who’s to say what will become of the Spicy P & OG future. Lowry and Derozan may have never reached the Finals, but they delivered five years of consistent regular season success and playoff basketball, which just wasn’t a thing before 2014.

Josh Donaldson Toronto Blue Jays Jersey

Here’s how JD No Whisky holds up among Blue Jays 3rd basemen:

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I mean… with a franchise with Rance Mulliniks AND Kelly Gruber it can certainly be tough to stand out. Yet there Donaldson stands, on the Mount Rushmore of Blue Jays greats. Now it’ll be tough to go from a perennial MVP candidate to **checks Blue Jays depth chart** Brandon Drury, but Donaldson’s dead arm campaign of 2018 should dampen the blow. Don’t get too impatient because, despite the MLB trend of manipulating superstar rookies’ service time, the next great Blue Jays 3rd base is right around the corner.

Image result for vladimir guerrero jr gif

1990’s LA Kings Jersey

This era of Kings jersey is my favourite. It slightly edges out the Marcel Dionne-era purple and gold but destroys the Ziggy Palfy purple and black. The current ones are a nice modern update on the 90’s look but in my opinion the original is King. Shoutout Kerry Fraser missing Gretzky’s high-stick on Gilmour. Dark times.

Sonny Weems Toronto Raptors Jersey

Money Sonny! Shout out to my boy Mikey G!

Sonny Weems was by far our favourite player in a shitty era of Raptors basketball. Whether he was getting his ankles broken

or absolutely throwing down

Money Weems made things happen when he was on the court. He wasn’t just jogging along to get his steps in. He had a couple of solid seasons in the NBA. His best ones by far were as a Raptor. But the guy is still making money moves overseas.

In 2017 Weems player 8 games for Zhejiang in the Chinese Basketball Association and averaged 31.7 points per game, 8 rebounds and 5.9 assists. The guy can hoop. I’ve often said that.

Jersey of the Week

1997 Anaheim Mighty Ducks Alternate Jersey

I honestly couldn’t identify this jersey at first glance. I honestly though it was some Walmart road hockey hybrid. But on further investigation it was used as a third jersey for exactly two seasons. Anytime someone throws a throwback Anaheim Mighty Ducks jersey at me it is an automatic contender for Jersey of the Week. Give me one dripping in obscurity and we have a winner.

Jersey of the Week Scoreboard:

@Acooksy19: 2
@wilsondrew17: 2
@jefftrahan13: 1
@phillydip4: 1
@beamerr9: 1

 

The Weekly Jersey Dump

These are awesome. I’m not well-read on the program but a quick Wikipedia scan show that that’s where Hot Rod Williams played. Cool.

 

On first impression I think I’m an Arizona Hotshots guy. Haven’t watched a game but I’d rock these jerseys:

Image result for arizona hotshots

 

It’s simple. If the Mighty Ducks cast is involved I’m here for it.

Just a couple of GOATs. Throwback to the 2006 and 2011 Finals.

Speaking of GOATs…

Jersday Blog November 29, 2018

Jersey Round-Up

Adidas Newcastle Home Kit

Quite honestly hats off to me for the execution on this one. For the life of me I had no idea what soccer… correction football… team this was. I had to fire up Google to make head or tails of this nonsense. Notice the correct British use of the word “kit”. Who is this cultured aficionado? Supposedly people wake up early to watch Premier League on weekends. Could’t be me

In terms of jerseys it kind of looks like a stereotypical referee shirt. Here’s a little tip to those not in tune with the beautiful game: Premier league referees wear solid coloured shirts. And that’s me talking soccer.

Bruce Smith Buffalo Bills Champion Jersey

Now back to some real football. Bruce Smith is a real one. Hall of Fame defensive end, one of the stars on Buffalo’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl runner-up teams from the 90’s and the NFL’s all-time leader in quarter back sacks with 200.

Now from the looks of it, I’m going to say this is probably a thrift shop pick-up. In my mind the best kind of Bills jersey is a cheap Bills jersey. If you’re going to a member of the mafia you can’t be afraid of your authentic Lesean McCoy jersey getting barbeque sauce and beer poured on it. With a jersey like this you can jump through flaming tables to your hearts desire and look fresh while doing so.

Raptors Staring Big Men 2012-2015 Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. It’s a shame that the NBA is going small and these two are literal dinosaurs. Back in my day you had didn’t worry about your power forward’s “switchability” you were looking for rebounds, shot blocking and some sweet post work.

This era of Raptors jersey might be the least aesthetically pleasing but they’re the ones that I grew up with so I’ll always go to bat for them. At the time they came out I remember people were pumped because at the time the purple look wasn’t that popular. But like a fine wine the purple Raptors throwback is what the people want.

Vladamir Guerrero Jr. Toronto Blue Jays Home Jersey

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Getting a prospect’s jersey is always a risky proposition… But this is a slam dunk. The road to the Blue Jays having a legit blue chip prospect pan out is littered with Travis Sniders and Kyle Drabeks.

 

Peter Stastny Quebec Nordique Jersey

I love the old Nordique jerseys. The logo has a classic clean look, the fleure de lis hasn’t really been utilized in too many hockey jerseys since, and there have been some straight up studs to suit up for Quebec. Stastny is low key one of the all-time greats. Get a load of this:

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If Stastny had a few more elite years he would no doubt be in the NHL pantheon but at the very least (based on no fact-checking on my part) he’s a top 5 Euro of all-time.

Mississauga Ice Dogs Jersey

Shout out to the team that Cherry built. Before they moved to Niagara and Cherry sold his shares in the team, the Ice Dogs were truly a tire fire. From its first season in 1997 to when they relocated to Niagara in 2007, the team had a record of 184-354-47. They actually has a bunch of notable NHL alumni:

  • Daniel Carcillo
  • Greg Jacina
  • Brian McGrattan
  • Sean McMorrow
  • Patrick O’Sullivan
  • Kyle Quincey
  • Igor Radulov
  • Rob Schremp
  • Jason Spezza
  • Chad Wiseman
  • Cody Bass
  • Luca Caputi
  • Dustin Jeffrey
  • Alex Pietrangelo
  • Oskar Osala

This jersey is so cool because I’d imagine that there are just so few around anymore. I love jerseys that sit in the middle of the obscure and kind of ugly section of the Venn diagram. Give ugly jerseys a couple of years and they become cool. That’s just how it is.

Jersey Dump

I’m here for this.

Call me when I can get a Johnny Manziel Arizona Hot Shot Jersey.

I’m all for the Bills upgrading these to their primary jerseys.

It’d be cool to scoop up a Selanne throwback. Maybe a Shane Doan or Keith Tkachuk.

Bring back Colour Rush Thursdays. The worst Colour Rush jersey is still beautiful in my eyes.

Where’s Josh Allen?

This is too well put together. The old viral taped up Browns QB jersy was the epitome of Cleveland football.

As a hater of Kyrie and the Patriots this jersey nauseates me to my core.

 

The Jersday Blog November 22, 2018

The Weekly Jersey Round-Up

Limited Edition Calvin Johnson Blue on Blue Detroit Lions Nike Jersey

This is one of my favourite submissions so far. Just a sweet Detroit Lions look coming in hot on Thanksgiving Thursday. The Lions definitely could’ve used Johnson today considering they lost 23-16 to Chase Daniels this afternoon. Since trading Golden Tate to the Eagles the Lions top receiver is… Kenny Golladay?

I’m sure the 33 year old Johnson could still suit up and probably dominate. When Megatron retired two years ago, he left on top of the game. Johnson, along with Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, and Antonio Brown are the only receivers with seasons of 1,600 yards receiving. In 2012 Johnson broke the record for the most receiving yards in a single season with 1,964 yards. At his peak he was a 6’5″ beast who could run, jump and catch with the best of them.

 

Boone Jenner Oshawa Generals Reebok Jersey

Boone Jenner straight out of the Shwa. I’m a huge fan of junior hockey jerseys and Jenner is no exception. I’m curious as to what level of Jenner/Coloumbus/Oshawa fan you’d have to be to scoop this one up. Oshawa Generals jerseys have a clean classic look and are probably one of my favourite OHL sweaters. The more I think about it I’m all about this jersey. Jenner is the perfect intersection of grit, scoring, obscure and is just low-key good.

Colin Kaepernick San Fransisco 49ers Jersey

If you don’t sympathize with the plight of Colin Kaepernick then you’re kind of an ass hole. He’s good enough that he should at least be on a roster. In 2016 he had a 90.7 Quarterback Rating which would be 20th in the league this year sandwiched between Matt Stafford and Andy Dalton. Now Kap has never been as great as he showed in that 2012 Super Bowl run, but when he had it going the guy played like a god damn video game. Decent arm, had some size and could run like the wind. Just a fun, fun player to watch.

Image result for colin kaepernick gif

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Reebok Winter Classic Jersey

The Leafs are third in the NHL despite having Matthews stapled to IR since October 27th. This team is a wagon, Autson Matthews is a stud (10 goals in 11 games noooot a big deeeeeal) and it finally feels like its all coming together for the Leafs. This Winter Classic jersey bangs.

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Tony Parker San Antonio Spurs Adidas Jersey

I just realized I only own point guard jerseys. I guess you don’t see your patterns until its right in front of you. I have Steve Nash, Jose Calderon, Spud Webb, Cory Joseph, Damian Lillard and Tony Parker. It’s like I’ve unintentionally boycotted dunking. Regardless of my point guard fetish, I think the Tony Parker jersey plays. 4 time NBA champ, 2007 Finals MVP and a 6-time all-star.

Image result for tony parker championship

Autographed Serge Ibaka Toronto Raptors Jersey

Ibaka’s resurgence has been a huge part of the Raptor’s scorching hot 15-4 start. The guy is blocking shots and working in the paint like a maniac. He hasn’t been this effective since the Thunder had Durant and Harden (laugh out loud hilarious that the Thunder chose to pay Ibaka over Harden (laugh out laugh hilarious that the Magic traded Oladipo for Ibaka (laugh out loud hilarious that the Thunder flipped Oladipo for Paul George))).

After a questionable first year and a half into his Raptors tenure, Ibaka is now dominating on the court and in the kitchen. Bon Apetit.

Ron Francis Hartford Whalers Jersey

Shout out to Doctor Hyatt! An esteemed professor in Brock University’s sport management program, Hyatt’s love for the Hartford Whalers is only matched by his love for Tim Raines and the Houston Astrodome. Listening to his lectures in second year History of Pro Sport (yes that was a real class) were some of the funniest and most informative rants that I have ever witnessed. Tim Raines is only in the Hall of Fame because of champions like Hyatt fighting for his cause. And if he had his way, the Hartford Whalers would be back in the NHL. Hyatt Fun Fact of the Day: the Hartford Whalers logo contains a whale tail, the letter “W”, AND the letter “H” is hidden in the middle of the logo. Fascinating stuff.

Jersey Dump

These are beautiful. Buckeyes haven’t been relevant since Jared Sullinger but these jerseys queue their comeback. Bad teams don’t wear jerseys this nice.

These jerseys land square in the middle in the Venn Diagram of my Yankee hate and Notre Dame hate.

The NFL needs more colour rush… Bring back colour rush Thursdays!

 

Throwback to a time when the Bills still didn’t win the Super Bowl! Still nice though.

 

Gonna have to pop on a Beltre jersey. Just don’t know which team it’d be…

I don’t love the Marlins new look. It’s better than the bright orange era but definitely worse than their 90’s look.

Probably a decent call to get rid of the Chief Wahoo logo. Big fan of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitar patch on the sleeve. Cleveland Rocks.

 

I saw some hate on the powder blues on Twitter but I’m a big fan.

These make me dizzy and nauseous.

Mike Modano, Eddie the Eagle, Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Zubov, Derian Hatcher. Now that is Texas hockey.

If you want to show off a sweet jersey or want to put a buddy with a jersey-buying problem on blast, be sure to send your submissions to me over Twitter @twaind4

Ujiri swings for the fences in Kawhi for Derozan swap

 

It’s been quite some time when the Toronto Raptors were the talk of an NBA offseason. This has been an absolute whirlwind so I’m just going to try and unpack my thoughts on here and see how I feel about the trade.

Why trade for 1 year of Kawhi Leonard?

The last NBA team to win the championship without having a top 10 player on their roster was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were not only an anomaly for that little piece of trivia, but they are one of the few modern NBA champions to build a starting unit consisting of five All-Star calibre players (Tayshaun Prince is the only one of the five to not make an All-Star team but his four all defensive second-team nods should give him a pass). You know… until this year’s Warriors…

When talking of Raptors championship aspirations these Pistons teams were kind of held up as a blueprint for how they could eventually topple the Warriors in the Finals (I think?). Well as constructed yesterday, the Raptors had two All-Stars in Lowry and Derozan, the ghost of Serge Ibaka, dinosaur center Jonas Valancunias and budding 3-and-D weapon OG Anonoby. While they supported that starting 5 with a very young and productive bench, this team clearly had a ceiling. A ceiling which was well below NBA champions and if that isn’t the end-goal then what the hell are we doing.

At his best Kawhi is a top-five player in the league that can dominate on both sides of the court. In my mind nobody in the league is as great of an option as the number 1 one shutdown defender on one side of the court while being a reliable scoring option on the other side of the court. Pairing Kawhi with Lowry and whichever young players remain when the dust settles raises the team’s ceiling immensely. The Raptors had one of the best benches in the NBA last year but if you can flip some depth for a legitimate star then you have to do it.

That being said trading for Kawhi Leonard is clearly a risk.

Kawhi has his warts

Now he could bounce for Los Angeles or New York in a year. Kawhi could be a diva from day one and refuse to listen to the Raptors brass. Some are suggesting that he might not be the same player as he was pre-injury. The doubters have a point in saying that the asking price is very hefty considering all of these red flags. But at a certain point you have to stop treading water and start to swim. Let’s just hope this trade doesn’t sink the Raptors.

 

It’s well worth the risk

At the end of the day I’m all in on this trade. Sometimes you have to give up Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to get Roberto Alomar. Without Lebron in the East it looked to be an arms race versus the up-and-coming Sixers and Celtics. But now the forever comfortable regular season Raptors of old have a legitimate claim at the NBA Finals.

While Kawhi might be a tough re-sign, keep in mind that a year ago people were already fitting Paul George for his Lakers jersey and when all was said and done George re-upped with the Thunder. Toronto is a hell of alot better of a city than Oklahoma.

Next year there’s no question that the Raptors will be better than last year. Kawhi for Demar is a huge upgrade and that’s not even a slight on DeRozan. Peak Kawhi is just that good. What is kind of lost in the trade is the fact that the Raps also picked up Danny Green who has shot a lifetime .395 from 3 and has suited up for 100 playoff games with the Spurs. With the additions of Green and Kawhi and the subtraction of Poeltl, the Raptors have an unbelievably versatile group who could see a bunch of their athletic wingers and forwards slide across three positions. This is a fun looking team who should now be the favourites in the East.

And if all else fails this move helps to kick start a rebuild that some people were calling for a year ago. If Kawhi walks then Toronto could finally just blow the entire thing up to get a shot at drafting lottery calibre players. I can’t stress enough that you can’t win without a superstar and this move more than anything else shows that the Raptors are going to make it happen whether it is now or down the road. A core of Lowry and DeRozan could clearly only take you so far.

Demar Derozan: The Quintessential Toronto Raptor

Now what shouldn’t be lost in this is that Demar Derozan has been a star both on and off the court for the city of Toronto. While at their peaks you can argue that Carter and Bosh were more effective players, Demar has worked his ass off since day one to be–in my mind–the face of this Raptors franchise.

Vince and Bosh each forced their way out of Toronto in situations that just were not handled well, but as time has worn on the nostalgia goggles have made the duo out to be champions for the city of Toronto.

When Derozan’s free agency hit in the summer of 2016, many thought he would bolt to his hometown LA Lakers. But he had built a home here in Canada and felt that the Raptors had some unfinished business (the money also didn’t hurt).

When all is said and done Derozan is Toronto’s franchise leader in games played, minutes played and points while making four all-star game appearances and two all-league teams. In my mind he is the best the franchise has had and it’ll be tough to see him go.

Bonus: THE BOYS ARE BACK

Image result for rudy gay demar derozan

Just watch. Pop is going to have this Gay-Derozan tandem popping like nobody ever knew was possible. Giddy up

 

What should the Raptors do with the NBA’s Coach of the Year?

Obviously it’s a terrible look to get swept in the second round as the conference’s 1 seed. It’s an even worse look to go 2-12 versus Lebron in the playoffs over the past three years (conference semis in 2016 (4-2), 2017 conference finals (4-0), 2018 conference semis (4-0). All of these tough losses have come in seasons where the Raptors were considered “contenders” because of the strong play of All Stars Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan with a rotating cast of solid role players. As the dust has settled on yet another playoff disappointment this year, while the Raptors core has taken their lumps, coach Dwane Casey and his future with the team has seemingly been pushed to the forefront. Read more

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