Many sports fans can sympathize with the heartache and hopelessness that comes with supporting a club that will not contend for a title. Ranking the worst franchises in sports is quite difficult because it’s highly subjective, but one thing is for certain: the Toronto Raptors deserve a spot on that list.
Being a Raptors fan can be difficult, depressing and harmful for your psychological well-being. The Raptors have experienced a few highs in their relatively short time in the NBA, and quite few lows. Who can forget Kelly Olynyk‘s dejected state after witnessing his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs throw away a big lead in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins? Well, the Raptors have a lot of similar moments in their archives and here is a few of them from over the years:
— Rafael Arujo
— Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets knocking Toronto out in the first round in 2006-07
— Vince Carter’s declaration about his effort during his time in Toronto
— Chris Bosh Leaving
— The reality of Toronto never competing for a championship
— Draft busts
— Kevin O’Neill
— Losing Tracy McGrady
Those times did hurt, but it pales in comparison to the night Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Raptors. Some may have forgotten that the Raptors were up at halftime and a win was presumably likely at that point, but then Kobe put on a performance for the ages. At one point, I was thinking that he could outscore the team on his own.
The ridicule that followed for the abominable display of defending the Raptors exhibited on that night led me to contemplating whether I should save face and not attend school for a week.
For obvious reasons, my excitement level was quite low for this NBA season. My expectations were that the Raptors would compete for the final playoff spot with the Detroit Pistons and later get swept in the first round of the playoffs. I was sure Toronto was “Riggin for Wiggins” when Rudy Gay was traded away to the Sacramento Kings. I was disinterested simply did not want to get hurt again, but halfway through this season, I’m jumping on the bandwagon.
Toronto is currently in third place and I consider them as favorites for the third seed at the conclusion of this season. Kyle Lowry has been a revelation and Jonas Valanciunas is quickly becoming my favorite big man in the game. Demar Derozan’s appearance in the All-Star Game was definitely deserved, and I would have enjoyed the ASG more if he got more minutes.
I can almost hear the laughter of fans from Western Conference teams through my computer screen. They counter with “the Raptors would be 10th in the West”; however, it doesn’t faze me at all. Raptors fans obviously understand Toronto will not beat the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers, but I predict a definite place in the semifinals. One of the best kept secrets is the dedication and loyalty of the Toronto Raptors fan base. The atmosphere at the Air Canada Center can be quite electric at times, and many will vehemently defend the Raptors to the death.
I take pride in the team’s current position, even if the Raptors are the best of the worst.
There are still challenges waiting ahead. Moments of heartache, disappointment and depression are surely going to hit at some point, but I’m sure this season won’t be a replica of the previous years. Raptors fans should rejoice and cherish this season because even though I predict a bright future, squads can change rather quickly. However far the team progresses, there is only one thing for certain: Raptors nation will supporting them no matter what.