May 05, 2007

Thank You, Raptors

What a tough way to go out, eh?

All I wanted out of game six was for it to be just that, a game. The last two games in the swamp were a joke, and I just didn't want the Raptors to go out like, for lack of a better word, bitches. I wanted them to fight and leave it all on the floor.

They did that. They went out fighting. They did not back down. There was no quitting. I'm really proud of these guys. Proud to be a Raptors fan. Especially proud of Calderon, Ford and Bosh. I know Jose messed up on that pass to finish the game, but Calderon, you're still my boy. There's no way he or TJ were 100% yet they came out and played tremendous. Ford was huge off the bench, and I still don't understand why Mitchell took him out early in the fourth.
Bosh by no means had his best shooting game, but he was aggressive and hungry. He wanted it tonight. He was going to do whatever it took. He passed the ball beautifully, picking up nine dimes and still scoring 23 on putrid shooting. The nine assists are what's key. He's got to learn to find the open man when all the focus is on him, and he did that tonight.

On a sad note, it looks like the Toronto Raptors have downloaded their last MP3. In what was probably Mo Pete's last game in a Raptors uniform, he went out playing hard and with a lot of class. He was huge on the boards. Thank you Morris Peterson, for all your years of service. Peterson's been through the good and bad with this franchise, and we all know how bad the bad was, but he's always played hard and been a professional. There's not a lot of his ilk in the NBA. Stay classy, Mo.

I also got to shout out AP. Anthony Parker was such a huge part of this team this year, and no one really expected that. This guy's got a sweet stroke and his jumpers when he comes off screens are beautiful to watch. I think the Raptors have got to make it a point to get Parker more touches next year. This guy can play.

The future is bright for the Toronto Raptors. Bosh, Ford, Calderon, and Bargnani are all so young, and already so talented. I'm not really sure what I expected of these guys in the playoffs, because they already exceeded all my expectations when it came to the regular season.

The playoffs were a bonus, and as much as I wanted them to win, getting New Jersey was a tough, tough match up. Jersey ain't no sixth seed. That's a damn good team over there. Jason Kidd, at his age, man, you've just got to respect what he does on the court. How the hell does a point guard lead his team in rebounding? It blows my mind. He's a tremendous passer and playmaker. Whenever the Raptors made a turnover, it seemed like Kidd made them pay. If Wayne Gretzky had a special vision for the game of hockey, Kidd's got the basketball version of it. It's tough to hate on Jason Kidd.

As for Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, it's easy to hate on those guys. I rather enjoy it. Carter's an embarrassment, mainly to himself. I can take some solace in the fact that Carter did not beat the Raptors in this series. Kidd and Jefferson beat the Raptors. Carter shot less than 44% from the field throughout the series, and was only good when he wanted to be. And the booing definitely gets to him in Toronto. He just doesn't have the mental strength to play through it. A lot of the media was saying that the Vince-booing was getting old, and no longer needed, because the Raptors are a new team, with a new identity, and have turned the page on Carter's tenure in Toronto.

But forget that! Boo him. Incessantly. Every time he's in Toronto and on the floor, boo him with pride and passion. If you're sitting courtside when the Nets are in town, talk smack to him. Tell him he's a bitch. Make fun of his annoying mother. Tell him you slept with his wife. Get in the man's head. It is your moral and civic duty as a Raptors fan.
The "Lets go Raptors, VC SUCKS!" chant is the best in the business. Sheer genius!

As for Jefferson, I hate him too, but he did have a strong series. He's aggressive and doesn't shy away from the rim, unlike his pal VC. I'd still like to slap him, though. Just once. And Mikey Moore too. The only Nets player I respect is Kidd.

Enough about the Nets.

One point. That was the difference. Raptor ball, 8.3 seconds left, our destiny in our own hands. The Raptors, tonight, looked like the Raptors of 2006/2007. It seemed like they were finally figuring out how to play playoff basketball. They looked like the confident squad that wasn't going to get blown out of the water. I thought they were going to grind out a win, because that's the only way it was going to get done. There was no way the Raptors were going to go in and spank New Jersey, we all knew that. It just wasn't meant to be. Game seven in Toronto would have been a hoot. I think deep down, the Nets knew that they had to close out the Raptors in six. I think the Raptors would have won this series had they been able to bring it back to Toronto. The ACC's just too tough a place to play.

A tough and disappointing way to end the season. It was a one posession game, but the Raps didn't even get a shot off. It was another astonishing way to end a playoff run for this franchise, something that's becoming a habit (think back to VC's rim-job against Philly in game seven at the buzzer, and Chris Childs math skills, or lack there of, the last time the Raptors were in the playoffs).

Overall, it was a fantastic season. Forty seven wins. Home advantage in the playoffs. A division title. Thank you, Toronto Raptors. Credibility has been restored to this once pathetic franchise. Basketball has been bleak in these parts the past few years, but the Raptors have officially turned the corner.

Almost to a man, this was the first real taste of the playoffs for most of the squad. It was definitely a learning experience and the Raps will most certainly benefit from this six game loss to the Nets. You can't win in the playoffs until you learn how to lose. Chris Bosh, surely, learned what the playoffs are all about. It's a lot different than the regular season. And just think about how good Bargnani is going to be. It's almost frightening. Almost not fair. He started rounding back into form in games five and six, after his appendectomy, and once he develops a post game, it's over, the Raptors will be impossible to stop. Gotta love Il Mago.

Jorge Garbajosa, you were missed, my man. What a huge loss Garbo's season ending ankle injury turned out to be. The Raps season ended only a couple of hours ago, but I'm already looking forward to Garbo's return and next year.

I hope Bryan Colangelo can keep Sam Mitchell in the mix. I know Mitchell realizes that the Raptors are building something special here, and I hope he wants to stick around and see it through, and see the fruits of his labour. This is his team. I think the boys enjoy playing for Mitchell, a coach just a few seasons removed from being a player, and a guy who knows what the NBA life and grind is all about. Mitchell is also a great character and a refreshing guy in the media. He keeps it real. Stick around Sam, because we're going places.

When the Leafs make the playoffs, and inevitably lose, I'm absolutely crushed by their defeat. That's always because I know the likelihood of them winning is always so small. The window is open only so much, and for only so long. When it comes to the Raptors, yeah, I'm upset that they lost, but I'm optimistic, because I can see what the future holds for this team. This is just the beginning, my friends. The window is just opening.

This team's going to win 50 ball games next year, and the Air Canada Centre is going to be rocking once again come next April. If there's one thing the playoffs proved, it's that the ACC is an electric place to be during the playoffs. The crowd is fantastic, and New Jersey should be ashamed of itself for not being able to sellout their games.

Hold your heads high, Toronto Raptors. You've saved basketball in this city.

Appreciation is there.

Oh, and FU, VC.

Goodnight, Toronto...


Anonymous said...

love it