Maybe this is inspired by watching all of the events of yesterday with Barack Obama. I could not help but think of the contrast to what I was watching, in comparison to the Raptors situation. I have always tried to keep a somewhat positive approach to what the Dino Nation Blog is all about. That goes in contrast to all that is going on at this moment and time in the Raptor world. In watching Barack Obama take office you could not hide from the true hope that he has created, not just in America but around the globe. Hope is a rapidly fading word in the Raptor fan vocabulary. I find it sad that people be little those who are hopeful. If you have faith, that this team can turn around and make some form of a sporting miracle happen. Do not let anyone break that spirit of hope. I may not share that hope and may tell you why that is. I just remember back, to being a child and always having true blind faith that the team I loved would win. I truly believe that we all have that experience in us. Just like with all things as we grow older things change. How you view something like Christmas as kid is vastly different, from the one you have as an adult.
There is a lot of anger in Raptor fans and that is a justified anger in many ways. You were promised a better team that would compete and be better. You have not been given that. You expect at least to be able to watch this team win or lose. That has not happened with the whole TSN 2 mess, you have not even been given that right. Chris Bosh has been angry as well. He has not been thrilled with a lot of things. The latest of which would be the choices made by Jamario Moon down the stretch. He has also not been thrilled to have people booing him. I agree with him on that one. Bosh has made his share of mistakes he is not perfect. That being said he has grown into a star and a leader in front of all the people that follow this team. To often in this world it is all about what have you done for us lately. The history of what you have accomplished gets swept under the rug. But the true answer to all of this tension that exists has very little to do with the play of Bosh. It is based out of fear of the unknown. Chris Bosh and his future, in these times of trouble have become the focus. People just assume that he will leave like all the others before him. We have all hard what happens to those who assume right? You do not know what Chris Bosh will do. I am not even sure if Bosh knows the answer himself to be honest. He strikes me as a guy that lives in the moment.
This may be why Bryan Colangelo may just be making a major shift in the Raptors overall gameplan for the long term. The original plan was to ride Jermaine O'Neal for a couple years and cash in his contract to build around Chris Bosh. It was the thought that hopefully the Raptors could at worst be in a similar spot to where they had been a playoff team. But the best case was they would take steps to improve and advance in the playoffs. But things don't go as planned in life. If they did we may have been saying Madam President today. Hillary Clinton was expected to win, the Democratic nomination was going to be Clinton's to lose and on to the presidency. However no one counted on a man of colour named Barack Obama coming along and inspiring the youth of America and beyond. We all know what happened from there. The point is that life can always offer surprises both good and bad.The Raptors have gone off course and it will not be fixed over night. I have written before in this blog that it is easy to say you want change. It is a much different task to accomplish change. But with ever loss it is clear this team needs change.
Colangelo is in a very hard spot that he has placed himself in. He now faces the task of admitting his own failure and coming up with a new plan and implementing that plan. What the plan seems to be is a shift from looking to 2010 and change the focus to 2009. He does not want to see his star player endure another losing season and have to try to pitch to him to return after that. The new call or new hope is to become a player in the 2009 free agent market and build a team around Bosh that he can believe in. It will be much easier to compete in that free agent market as everyone still has dreams of landing the many big prizes. It also will give Colangelo control to not over pay as he could still wait till 2010 if need be. That is why a player like Shawn Marion was such an attractive option. The goal is turn the Jermaine O'Neal contract into cap space in 2009 and start to rebuild this Raptor team. Least that is the signals we are being given.
It is clear that Bosh is looking for help and has seen little beyond the recent surge of Andrea Bargnani. He has shown his frustration both in his facial expression and his words after the last loss. What happen in this next month leading up to the NBA trade deadline will tell us a lot about where this team is heading. It will speak to the direction this franchise is going in how it plans to keep it franchise player. Nothing is ever for certain but Colangelo has consistently stated that he is looking to build around Chris Bosh.
It has been a season of falling idols in Toronto. Bryan Colangelo is no longer thought to be the man who has all the answers. He is now questioned loudly and with good reason based on a track record that has had more misses then hits. After his first year in which the team would have a great deal of success and win a division title it has been a rather quick slide down. Jamario Moon was a fairly tale find that stormed on to the scene but now looks like someone that was only meant to have 15 minutes of fame. Jose Calderon emerged from the Raptor point guard civil war as the winner. He was suppose to ride that victory and new contract to the All Star Game. Instead he has spent time on the IR and when he has been in the line up looked far from the top point guard in the east some folks billed him to be. Jermaine O'Neal was brought in as the hope to lead the Raptors to the next level. But a change of jersey has not changed the fact O'Neal and his body have been through quite a lot in his long NBA career. Just like a Tracy Mcgrady that came straight out of high school and faced many injuries in his career. You wonder if J.O's career has seen it's best days and this is the beginning of the end. Bosh himself was on an extreme high coming off an Olympic Gold. He was considered one of the big reasons for the U.S being able to rise to the top of International basketball again. He returned to the Raptors and started the season where is Olympic experience ended. However more recently he has struggled like the rest of his team. He has had several mistakes late in games that have cost the Raptors. The guy that heard chants of M.V.P now reads some questioning if the Raptors should trade him before he decides to leave.
It all makes you wonder just who can we believe in? It is hard to have faith in people that have disappointed you. It is clear for any Raptor fan that this season has been a disappointment and a painful one indeed. This tells you a lot about people and the character that they have. That is true of all, not just the people that make up this organization but of us as fans of it. Is it really productive to tear people down and kick them as they are down? You see a lot of that these days. I am even guilty of it from time to time. I was live-blogging for The Score and it was the game between the Celtics and Suns. I mentioned my frustration of the Raptors recent struggles earlier in the day. A Boston fan responded and said that he understood. After all his team was struggling with about 20 wins in the season the Raptors were champs of the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics were able to make major changes and do it very quickly. The Raptors road to change may not be so fast. The Celtics do have an advantage of being a franchise with a history that is one of the greatest in all of pro sports. People still question if the Raptors can bring American stars to Canada. It is an old problem that people still wonder if it will ever go away. However as the world we live in gets smaller and access to things becomes easier no matter where you live. It makes it more possible to have a lot of the comforts of home with you where ever you go. The time has come to flip the script on the issue. Canada is an opportunity for NBA players to not just have fans in one city but in a whole nation. We need to be proud of what Toronto offers and confident that people will see that. Vince Carter became a star here and so has Chris Bosh. The old arguments that you can not be successful in Toronto are not true. It takes finding the guys that can believe in that and see the true opportunity Canada offers.
In the end things may get worse before they get better. However being a sports fan is all about faith and hope. Barack Obama has created a message of hope and faith that the world has embraced. It is time for someone in this Raptor Organization to step up and provide that faith and hope. The difference is that before someone can do that for the Raptors they must restore faith and hope about them. This has been a sad season to watch in many ways. Despite myself having some success. Not just me but other bloggers as well like the guys at Raptors Republic. They have joined a network like the Dino Nation Blog has done. I congratulate them on that and know it is pretty exciting from my own experience. We are all tied into this Raptor experience. The challenges that this team has faced will bring out a lot of the worst in all of us. But it also says a lot about the character of all of us. That goes from you all the way to Bryan Colangelo. May we all at the other side of all of this be able to look back on these times as part of the struggle. After all the goal for everyone is for the Raptors and Obama to come together in more then just a blog. They will be building a basketball court at the White House we are told. The Raptors hope one day to get a tour of that court as part of a visit as NBA Champions. That idea seems so far away at this moment in time. However that is what you have to do is hang on to visions like that. Does it seem realistic? Not at all. Do I know how we reach that point? Don't know that answer as well. But what I do know is that if you loose faith and hope in everything you can never find an answer. If this blog took that attitude it never would have got to where it is at. Each day it takes giving the best you have each day. This Raptor team needs to start doing that and if that best is not good enough. Then change must come to the Raptors and it will. It is not a pretty picture but we can all still hold out hope for a better tomorrow. To often of late it is all about what this team can not do. The task ahead of the Raptors may seem hard and impossible. But the one that faces Barack Obama is far greater and far more important. But his supporters say YES WE CAN. Well there needs to be a lot more of that attitude here with Raptors. As the Raptors head into a game with the Pistons tonight losers of 6 straight it may be as simple as that for this team to truly find a way to say YES WE CAN and believe it.