For twenty years I have followed the NBA. Two decades of witnessing triumphs like the Jordan dynasty, the Kobe and Shaq era, the Spurs’ model franchise, the individual successes of Canadian hero Steve Nash and the “International Invasion” of players like Dirk Nowitzky, Manu Ginobli and Yao Ming. But unfortunately, I have also spent fifteen of those years as a Raptor fan, and have seen very little of these triumphs with my own team.
Sure, one would point out that the Wimp Cart – ahem , the Vince Carter years were special enough to put the Raptors on the NBA map. And while that may be true, one of the traits left by Air Canada have continued right up to this current season – the Raps have maintained their residence in Mediocreville.
And while many Raps fans have blamed GM Bryan Colangelo for the simply average status of the team, he is only working with the budget he has been given. Much of the blame should really lie with the group that is truly holding the Raps back – the MLSE.
Take a look around the NBA. The Big 3 in Boston, Kobe and Gasol in LA, Melo and Billups in Denver. The elite teams in this league are lead by star studded duos and trio. And much like the Vincesanity years, Chris Bosh has spent the last seven years carrying the Raps by himself. As great as Bosh is, teams with only one star is simply not enough in today’s NBA.
Unfortunately, the MLSE only appear to be concerned with the Raps being good enough to make the playoffs and be a first round exit instead of being true playoffs contenders. If Bosh re-signs with the Raps in the offseason, the organization must do all they can to find a stud player to play with him, (like an Andre Iguodala) that can help take this team to the next level. If not, the Raps are in danger of being like the Garnett led Timberwolves of much of the last decade – one star, with little playoff success.
Perhaps the NBA’s lone Canadian franchise would be better off with a Mark Cuban type owner – an enthusiastic billionaire tycoon that is willing to do whatever it takes to put a title-contending product on the court. But it looks like Raps fans are stuck with the MLSE, and these dedicated fans have waited long enough. It is high time that this organization finally goes all out to acquire a true star to play alongside Bosh, and make a serious push for a title, no matter the cost. Who cares if they have to pay the luxury tax, the revenue from a long playoff run would make up for that. One look at the teams with the highest salaries shows that most of them are also among the best teams.
The biggest fear of Raps Nation is becoming the same treadmill team the Leafs have long been. They should stop accepting mediocrity and demand that the Raps pay the cost to become part of the NBA’s elite – even if it means boycotting games and season tickets. Fans of the Bulls, Spurs and Lakers have seen that type of success, and there is no reason why Raps fans can’t experience the same. The MLSE has to be sent the message that just being average is no longer good enough. A change needs to happen and it needs to start this summer.