I am officially declaring the Toronto Raptors to be the most lovable losers in sports.
Maybe I’m a natural optimist, maybe the spring air is making my head feel funny, or maybe after so many years of living in Toronto, I just expect sports teams to be terrible.
Whatever the reason, I find that now, as the final buzzer sounds to end the dazzling ineptitude that was the Raptors’ 2010-11 season, I am a bigger fan than ever before.
Let’s take a look at some of the things the Raptors lost this year to see if we can figure it out.
1. They lost Chris Bosh.
Everyone knew it was coming; after all, this is a city where you play to build your resume, then go on to success somewhere else. Bosh was well-liked in this city. He was funny. He played hard. He had crazy hair. But he wanted to win, and that was clearly not going to happen here.
Just look at how excited Bosh is in that video. He can’t believe that he might be headed for the playoffs. I can’t help but be a little happy for him.
So we lost Bosh. But it’s okay.
2. DeMar DeRozan lost the dunk contest.
Serge Ibaka grabbed a stuffed animal with his teeth. JaVale McGee brought out an extra backboard. Blake Griffin jumped over a blatant piece of product placement. DeRozan, meanwhile, dunked the ball.
No props, no gimmicks, just one of the best in-contest dunks ever; and he did it on the first attempt. And yet, a year after losing in the final round to sentimental favourite Nate Robinson, who won by virtue of being short, DeRozan was out again.
So he lost the dunk contest. But it’s okay.
3. They lost the first (and second) NBA games ever played in Europe.
I’ll never fully understand why, in a league filled with eye-popping talent, the NBA decided to send the Raptors and the Nets to be Britain’s first taste of live basketball. But when the Raptors lost back-to-back games against New Jersey in London, the arena was sold out both nights. The fans loved it. The second game went into triple-overtime, and the whole experiment was seen as a resounding success.
So they lost both games in England. But it’s okay.
4. They lost the 3-point streak.
This one went kind of un-detected in the media, but for over a decade, the Raptors hit at least one 3-pointer in every game for a record 986 games. And then, in a depressing last-second loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the streak came quietly to an end.
A few weeks later, the Dallas Mavericks surpassed Toronto’s short-lived record, and became the first team to run a 3-point streak to over a thousand games.
I love this video of the shot that cost us the game and the streak; the despair in the camera man’s voice, the way he just knows what’s coming, really sums up the season for many Raptor fans:
So the Raptors lost a lot this season. As I write this, the season has just ended; our good friend Chris Bosh has just finished handing the Raptors their 60th loss of the season.
But it’s okay.
Chris Bosh has new life, and playoff dreams, in Miami.
Blake Griffin is the Slam Dunk champion.
The Mavericks hold the record for most consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer.
And somewhere in England, some young lad who was always a bit too tall to play “footie”, is picking up a basketball for the first time.
For anyone to win, someone has to lose. And that’s what the Raptors do.
See you next season.