Rudy Gay is officially a member of the Toronto Raptors and will pull on the jersey for the first time against the Miami Heat on Sunday. The blockbuster trade, Toronto Raptors Land Rudy Gay by Brendon Fitzsimons, has ended the rumors surrounding Gay and Jose Calderon. Calderon is now on the roster of the Detroit Pistons. A new era has arrived in Toronto and the now the torch has been passed onto Gay. The torch which started with Damon Stoudamire went to Vince Carter and then extinguished with Chris Bosh is lit once again. The torch of the franchise savior is now in the hands of a kid from Baltimore via Storrs. A single question has been flooding the airwaves, media pages and blogosphere of Raptorland: what can Gay do for us.
After hearing of the trade, Gay could be heard wondering out loud as to why the Raptors or general manager Brian Colangelo didn’t draft him in the first place. Colangelo instead drafted the enigma that is Andrea Bargnani. Gay was selected by the Houston Rockets who then shipped the Connecticut Huskies star to the Memphis Grizzlies. The question Raptors fans have today for Colangelo is why is Gay a fit now when you didn’t think he was in 2006.
If Bargnani is an enigma than Gay is a bigger one. He can do it all but some in the NBA don’t believe he cares about the game or what he can achieve. He is the prototypical athletic swingman with endless ability to score. He can beat anyone off the dribble. He can go head-to-head on both sides of the ball with anyone in the league. He wants the ball at crunch time. In the eyes of any hoop junkie Gay is simply a player. He will bring all these qualities and attributes to the Raptors. That is what Gay can do for Toronto with his numbers, when he is actually healthy which has been an issue. He is also the godfather to Kyle Lowry’s son. Lowry now has three reasons to be happy with the trade: he has Gay on his side, his son is happy and now Calderon is gone. Lowry is now undeniably the starting point guard.
Gay sounds like an All-Star. He sounds like a player to build your franchise around. So why did the Grizzlies give up on him. The bottom line was that the new owners in Memphis didn’t feel his large salary justified what he gave the team. The new owners didn’t think they could afford to win with him. The Raptors and Colangelo think they can, but that and all of Gay’s skills aren’t the reason why they traded for him.
The brass in Toronto made the trade for one reason: relevancy. Before the trade the Raptors were an afterthought in the minds of basketball fans and media. In Toronto they lag behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays for the hearts of sports fans and in the keyboard strokes of scribes. They always seem to get the wrong end of the stick with the referees and the association itself. Michael Roberts discusses the dirty end of the stick in his column: Toronto Raptors Are Wondering If David Stern Is Really Vince McMahon. Americans don’t know what type of city Toronto is. No free agents want to play in the city and going even further no African Americans want to either. The Raptors are forced to look to Europe and the Developmental league for free agents. The days of drafting Carter, Bosh and signing Charles Oakley and Hakeem Olajuwon are over.
Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment finalized the deal to buy the Raptors in September. They want content to drive more viewers to their own radio, television and online channels. More viewers equals more revenue. The simplest way to get more viewers is for the team to be more relevant whether it’s with wins or just making large splashes. The trade for Gay was one large splash. Now let’s see if that means more wins.
Shahab Khan is a Columnist with Rant Sports focusing on the Toronto Raptors
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