There’s no denying that the Toronto Raptors gave the city a sense of pride after digging themselves out of the depths of irrelevance and into the playoffs this past season, and as a result, saw a significant growth in their devoted fanbase.
A team record with 48 victories, an Atlantic Division crown, the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and a host of other unlikely achievements pushed the last six months into the annals of franchise history, and now the Raptors have been given their very own day.
On Monday, ”Raptors Day”, as it has been fittingly named, was declared by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelley, who was clearly taking the matter very seriously and opened the ambitious festivities by saying ”Good Raptors morning” to the small crowd that gathered in front of Toronto’s City Hall.
Attended by point guard Greivis Vasquez, head coach Dwane Casey, and of course ”Raptor”, the team’s beloved mascot, Kelley acknowledged the franchise’s well-known list of accomplishments while addressing the crowd, and tried desperately to tie Toronto’s recent run of success to a variety of issues that have absolutely nothing to do with basketball during his speech.
”We’ve been doubting ourselves lately, our static economy, the friction between downtown and the suburbs, a sense of being overwhelmed by the challenges of our success, the disturbing revelations of our leadership and the sudden, unexpected onslaught of an aggressive nature haven’t marked these past few years among our best. Then along came the Raptors … first in their conference and in the playoffs. The magic word: Playoffs.”
Aside from the fact that the Deputy Mayor should have had someone on his staff explain the difference between the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, are we now expected to believe that the inspiration drawn from a group of underdogs has had an affect on any of these political issues?
In an era of over-celebration and an endless quest for the dramatic, the city’s most recent expression of gratitude is simply laughable, and in many ways just plain embarrassing for residents of Raptors nation, who knew that the surprising turnaround was merely a much-needed step in the right direction.
Likely to the dismay of both City Hall and Toronto’s front office, Raptors fans didn’t waste any time expressing their frustration over the misguided publicity stunt, and in a related article from Monday’s edition of the Toronto Sun entitled ”Raptors Day Declared”, one in particular left a comment that echoed those feelings:
”Don’t get me wrong, I love my Raptors, but this is silly. Wait until they actually win something. I doubt that this was decided upon by actual knowledgeable sports fans, they would see the ”cringe factor” in doing it.”
Evident from the many comments posted that express this same general reaction, this fan wasn’t alone in his or her frustration; and going forward, it would be wise for those responsible for these type of Raptors-related events to learn that there’s a fine line between praising a team for a job well done, and an over-publicized photo-op that insults the intelligence of that team’s fanbase.
Ty is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldTy.