Can Toronto Raptors Matt Devlin Just Say Rudy Gay's Name?

By Shahab Khan
Matt Devlin Toronto Raptors
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, Toronto hasn’t been blessed with a stellar team in the hapless Toronto Raptors.  Wins haven’t come easily or at all and the franchise seems always to be in a state of flux. One thing I can say is that the Raptors have, hands down, the best radio and television broadcasting crew in the biz. There’s just one thing that’s weird, but I’ll get to that later.

Paul Jones and Eric Smith do the radio side of things. Their knowledge of the game is unmistakable and the banter with the players and the crowd is humorous. Matt Devlin is the play by play guy for television. He is paired up with either Leo Rautins or Jack Armstrong. Devlin knows his stuff and isn’t afraid to root for the home team when necessary. Rautins and Armstrong bring different intangibles to each broadcast from a player and coach’s perspective.

Both crews make the game itself better and that should be the singular job of a successful broadcast. The following is not an indictment of Devlin–it’s just a point of fact. Please don’t take what I write with any vulgarity or anything more that it is. I am not putting blame or painting anyone with a judgment. Just take the next few paragraphs with a smile on your face.

Since the arrival of Rudy Gay, something has made me think about how Devlin does his play by play. I don’t think it’s on purpose. I think it’s something that just happens and remember, he was the voice of the Memphis Grizzlies prior to his gig in Toronto and saw a lot of Gay.

Devlin never, almost 90 percent of the time, will ever say the word Gay. He has always been a last name type of guy when doing the play by play and when describing what he sees. It’s always been “Lowry with a bounce pass to Derozan who misses the shot and Valanciunas is there for the rebound and put back.” With Gay on the team, it’s become “Lowry with a bounce pass to Rudy who misses the shot and Valanciunas is there for the rebound and put back.”

Devlin now has even started using Gay’s full name when doing his commentary. “Anderson skip pass to Rudy Gay for the easy lay-up.”At first I thought it was just something I was latching on to because Gay was the new player on the team but after a couple of games I noticed a lot of Rudy and Rudy Gay but not too many mentions of Gay.  Then I thought maybe Devlin was using Rudy like Rudy in the movie about Notre Dame, but that would be a stretch.

Devlin only uses a full name when describing an outstanding play or differentiating between one Johnson or another Johnson. I started laughing when I realized what he was doing because I know he wasn’t doing it on purpose. Then I asked myself: why is he doing it? Are we such an intolerant society that we can’t say or hear the word Gay without laughing or thinking about sex? Can we not just talk about someone named Gay without all those other thoughts coming into our head? Has this even affected a professional play by play guy like Devlin? Did Gay get made fun of when he was younger? Did he want to change his name?

I remember the first text I received from a colleague of mine after the trade. It said “Shahab now I can wear a Raptors uniform with Gay on the back of it lol”. I started laughing then looked around wondering if anyone saw what I was doing.

It must be hard for a play by play guy like Devlin with all the names he has to know and remember. He has people like me waiting for him to make a mistake with who the scorer is or how to pronounce a name. Now he has to deal with me making an issue of why he isn’t just saying the word Gay. Matt, and I hope you read this, I’m not making an issue of it. I am just wondering if you know that you do it and is it on purpose or if it is something that just happens.

I guess the real issue is why do I notice the word Gay? Maybe I am the real problem. Maybe I should look at myself first. Then again, that wouldn’t be too fun. So let’s hope tonight we hear “Gay hits the winning shot” from Devlin and then all my thoughts can be laid to bed.

Shahab Khan is a Basketball and NBA Columnist with Rant Sports focusing on the Toronto Raptors

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