Posts Tagged ‘Optimism’

RAPOGANDA, n. (rap-ah-gan-dah) Media created with the purpose of fuelling optimism with regard to the future of the Toronto Raptors basketball club. Often involves the framing of mediocre players as all-stars, the assertion that the Raptors will make the playoffs very soon, and the unfounded claim that most NBA players are just dying to play in Toronto. Usually results in inflated expectations, which in turn leads to panic, fan disillusionment, and an infinite cycle of rebuilding. 

Things I like about the video above:

  1. It looks like it was filmed in an FBI interrogation room. I almost expect Agent Smith to appear over Leo’s shoulder and say, “I assume you’ll be renewing your season tickets, won’t you, Misssster Rautinsssss….”
  2. I had no idea that Terrence Ross “intrigues the hell” out of Jack Armstrong. I’m also not sure what he means, but Ross might want to play it safe and restraining-order-the-hell out of Armstrong.
  3. There’s the token mention of Bargnani as a key member of the team at 1:54. Probably added into the script once they realized nobody would trade for him.
  4. There’s just the tiniest hint of desperation when they talk about this team being “attractive to free agents”. It’s as if they’re trying to wish it into reality by saying it over and over again. Or maybe they’re just scared because Bryan Colangelo is standing just outside the frame with a shotgun.
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(Photo: forums.realgm.com)

(Photo: forums.realgm.com)

There was no hideous loss to the Wizards last night.
We did not have a mere 32 points at halftime.
This was a moral victory.
These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Time For A Name Change?

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
Is it time to ditch our ball-dribbling, neck-craning, and (for some reason) red-skinned Raptor for something else?

Is it time to ditch our ball-dribbling, neck-craning, and (for some reason) red-skinned Raptor for something else?

Santa has barely started tuning up his sleigh, and already the Toronto Raptors’ playoff hopes are gone for another year. In a season that started with plenty of optimism, with terms like “accelerated rebuild” being tossed around, the wheels seem to have come off surprisingly fast. The defence has disappeared, we’re challenging Washington for dead last, and fans and analysts are struggling to determine exactly where we go from here. A number of solutions have been floated, but none seem to satisfy.

Fire Dwane Casey? Give Colangelo the boot? Trade Bargnani?

Nah…none of those things will have a lasting effect. I say we go for a total re-brand. If the New Orleans Hornets can seriously consider a name like the Pelicans, surely we can at least entertain the idea of finding a new identity. It’s been suggested before, and hey…it’s not like the team could get any worse.

So without further ado, here are some humble suggestions for MLSE’s consideration:

Option 1: The Toronto Beavers

Photo: National Post

A hard-working animal that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This name was in the running back when the NBA expanded to Toronto, and it’s worth a second look.

Benefits: Beavers are cuter than Raptors, and less extinct. Fans would be known as “Dam-nation”. Lots of opportunity for crass jokes.

Option 2: The Toronto Tankhouse

Photo: Millstreetbrewery.com

Let’s take corporate sponsorship to the next level. For those who don’t know, Tankhouse is an ale brewed locally by the Mill Street brewing company. It’s delicious.

Benefits: Alliteration in team names is always catchy. Mill Street’s business would go through the roof, which would be great news for a small local business. Plus, we could give the ACC the appropriate nickname “the house that tank built”.

Option 3: The Fightin’ Isaac

Photo: wikipedia.org

In honour of the 200th anniversary of Canada’s beat-down of the USA in the war of 1812, how about a nod to Major-General Isaac Brock, also known as “the hero of Upper Canada”?

Benefits: The fact that Brock died in action would send a powerful message about the kind of effort our team needs to give on the court every night. Plus, the mascot would get to wear a nifty jacket.

Option 4: The Toronto Raccoons

Photo: visualizeus.com

This might be the best option of them all. They’re cute, they’re local, and with a bit of skilled photoshopping, we wouldn’t even need a new logo.

Benefits: Might be the perfect symbol of a team that survives off the garbage of others. Like our basketball team, they don’t get a lot of respect. But anyone who’s gotten too close knows that you don’t mess with a raccoon. Our players could learn something from the craftiness and industriousness of this under-appreciated species.

Got any other ideas? My mind is as open as a player Jose Calderon’s supposed to be guarding. Email us at holycraptors@gmail.com, or leave your suggestions in the comments.

A new NBA season is almost upon us.

And in a tradition as charmingly Torontonian as bidding for (and losing) the Olympics, sports writers here are bursting with optimism at the prospect of a new campaign of Raptors basketball.

Well, maybe not bursting. But for the Raptor faithful, there are some good reasons to be hopeful this fall. Don’t laugh. It’s true.

Reason for optimism #1: Jonas is coming.

Skill? Check. Height? Check. Fashion sense? Hm…

In a headline straight outta 2006, the Raptors are hoping that a big man from Europe with loads of talent will have a positive effect on the team in the coming years. The anticipation around Valanca…Valcan……Valanaci…big V has grown all the larger since he missed what would have been his rookie season last year in Europe. The anticipation bubble will probably deflate quickly as he adjusts to the NBA game, but the consensus seems to be that this guy is (will be) good.

Reason for optimism #2: A legit point guard.

One of these guards was signed by the Raptors in the off-season. Can you guess which one?

Okay, so we didn’t manage to bribe Nash into playing here. But Kyle Lowry is solid, and after the parade of clowns we saw at PG last season, he might as well be Chris Paul. His perimeter defense, his scoring, his the-fact-that-he’s-not-Gary-Forbes-ness will all help.

Reason for optimism #3: We like Coach Casey.

Coach Casey, seen here giving a slow-clap after another ill-advised shot from Amir Johnson, was the main reason the Raptors won any games at all last year.

 A year of coaching the Raptors, and he hasn’t slit his wrists. That’s a plus. And let’s face it: he turned the team around last year. Well, maybe not all the way around, but he woke them up on defense and planted the seeds of success.

Reason for optimism #4: We’re not the worst franchise in North America.

“Remember”, Mom said, “there’s always someone who’s worse off than you.”

 A recent ESPN ranking of 122 sports teams on the continent places the Raptors at number 103, sandwiched firmly between the perennially mediocre Blue Jays (#79), and the belovedly horrible Maple Leafs (dead last at 122). It should be noted that the list does not include MLS, the continent’s soccer league, in which Toronto FC currently sits dead last.

In conclusion…?
Well, who’s to say what will happen over the next six months? The league is our oyster. This guy thinks the Raptors might make the playoffs this year. This guy puts them in the 7th seed.

Me? Well, I tend to stay conservative with my predictions. With that in mind, I’m forecasting the following:

  • The Raptors will finish 62-20, first place in the east. Bosh will be begging to come back, but Colangelo won’t return his phone calls.
  • Valanciunas will be the unanimous Rookie of the Year. He will pull down 18 rebounds per night and will be the toast of Toronto. He will get all the ladies, Bargnani will be jealous, and the two will come to fisticuffs in the middle of a game, prompting Bargnani’s trade to the Timberwolves.
  • Derozan will have a breakout season and put up 34.1 ppg through the all-star break, before a surprise marriage to a Kardashian and a subsequent messy divorce and downward spiral that will see him balloon to 270 pounds and disappear for a week-long bender in Niagara Falls.
  • Jose Calderon will win the dunk contest with a spectacular throw-down in which he does a backflip, followed by a barrel roll, followed by a mid-air high-five from Jerome Williams, who showed up because he thought he was still playing for the Raptors.

Go optimism! Go Raptors!

A typical scene on the Raptors' bench early this season: Johnson stares blankly into the middle distance, Butler checks the clock to see when the pain will end, Gray tends to a throbbing headache, and Bargnani wonders what colour suit he should wear for the next game.

At barely four months, the season that ended today seemed like it only began yesterday…and yet, there were times when it felt like it would never end. In fact, the Toronto Raptors’ 2011-2012 season is best described by paraphrasing Charles Dickens: It was the shortest of seasons, it was the longest of seasons.

And if you’ll humour me a bit, I’d like to keep the literary theme going, and take a look back at the 2012 campaign month by month, to see if we can examine it like a series of classic novels. After all, the Raptors managed to cover just about all the genres this year: horror, suspense, comedy, mystery…a bit of everything. So grab your pencil and start taking notes, because this will all be on the final test.

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Month 1: Great Expectations

When the season finally began, there was a sense of optimism in the air. We had a new coach, fresh off a championship in Dallas, who was going to teach the team how to play defence. We won the first game of the season, and early on we were sitting pretty at 3-3. Bargnani was pouring in the points, playing like an all-star:

But like any good novel, once the characters were established and the mood was set, we arrived at second stage of the plot, just like you learned in English class: conflict. Bargnani got hurt. The losses started to pile up. And month two brought with it the winter of the Raptors’ discontent.

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Month 2: Hard Times

February was not kind to the Raptors. They lost 9 of 13 games, including back-to-back heartbreakers courtesy of Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin. With Derozan opting out of the dunk contest, Toronto went completely unrepresented at the all-star weekend in Orlando. Bargnani continued to sit out, and the only Raptor who was playing well on a consistent basis was first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas. In Lithuania. And then, on February 17th, the Raptors hit rock-bottom:

In a game that was grittier than the gutters of Dickensian London, not only did the Raptors manage to break Charlotte’s 16-game losing streak, but they did it on “Fan Appreciation Night” at the ACC. The season was starting to develop enough tragic irony to make Shakespeare jealous.

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Month 3: A Tale Of Two Cities

Like the French peasantry in Dickens’ most renowned novel, basketball fans in Toronto were demoralized by this point in the season. However, just like in pre-revolutionary France, the winds of change were in the air. And those winds ended up blowing Leandro Barbosa right out of town on Deadline Day. Things were back and forth as spring came to Toronto; a satisfying overtime win against Memphis lifted our spirits…and a second loss to the Bobcats brought us back to earth.

(Side note: why did Memphis borrow the Oakland A’s uniforms for this game?)

Like the two cities in the title of Dickens’ classic, there were two versions of the Raptors: the one that could excite you, and the one that frustrated you. There were two point guards: the one who knew how to defend, and the one who knew how to pass. Questions about how best to prepare for next year brought the realization that the season’s end was just around the corner.

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Month 4: Oliver Twist

Is there any character in the history of literature more deserving of sympathy than Oliver Twist?  Taken advantage of by the rich and powerful, mistreated, stepped on, overlooked. As the 2011-2012 NBA regular season comes to a close, and the league’s wealthier, more talented, better-loved teams move into the playoffs, I can’t help but see my beloved Raptors as the Oliver Twist of the basketball world.

As the league’s bourgeoisie geared up for the post-season by making big trades or signing free agents, the proletariate Raptors quietly gave lesser-known players a chance to play- Uzoh, Anderson, Dentmon…NBA orphans who woudn’t have a chance anywhere else.

Have the Raptors shown improvement? The question was on the minds of all fans over the season’s final month, and we all desperately wanted the answer to be “yes”. We wanted our little Oliver Twist to find a better lot in life. Certainly, many numbers would suggest that the team improved this year. Admittedly, they would’ve had to try pretty hard to be worse than last year, but there really did seem to be a bit more of a fighting spirit this season, summarized wonderfully by Raptors Republic:

What used to be listless blowouts under Triano have turned into either respectable defeats, or outings where they’ve hung around long enough for the miserable, suffering fan to say, “Hmm, I guess that’s better, or an improvement at least…let’s see what else is on TV”.

And, as difficult as this season was, part of me doesn’t want it to be over.

Part of me wants to go back to the ACC tomorrow, to see if Ed Davis has gotten any tougher. To see if Calderon can handle another 47 minutes of playing time without evaporating from exhaustion. To see if Jamaal Magloire will hit a free-throw.

I’m a sucker for punishment, a Raptor fan for life, and like little Oliver Twist, I stand here at the end of the season, my empty bowl in my hands, saying, “please, sir, I want some more.”

You’re darn right I want some more. See you next year.

Just Let Me Enjoy This Moment.

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
I just had one of those walks home that only a Raptor fan can have.

My head was held high. My strides were a bit longer. And brief, ridiculously optimistic thoughts raced through my head:

“You know, if Bargnani comes back, we might be able to make the playoffs.”…”I really think the Raptors have turned the corner defensively.”…”Calderon will be an all-star next year, for sure.”…”A bit of time and some smart trades, and we’re in the Finals.”

When you're a Raptor fan, beating the Celtics makes you think that this is possible.

Yeah, tomorrow morning I’ll probably come back down to earth. The buzz of victory and $12 beer will wear off, and I’ll wake up, as confused as a frat boy the morning after a tailgate party, look over at my Raptors shirt hanging lazily on the back of a chair and laugh in spite of myself.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy it: Raptors 86 – Celtics 74.

Thank you, Boston.