In lack of actual basketball news, the conversation on the Toronto Raptors has turned to this whole concept of Toronto and it is viability as an NBA Franchise. The one thing that you have to admit, is that with MLSE as the owners of this franchise, it is stable in terms of financial support. While many can disagree with the choices they have made in running of this franchise, the fact it is on solid foundation is something to be thankful for. How many of you think Dan Gilbert will stick it out in Cleveland in a post Lebron James world? The Cleveland Cavs are far closer to being a franchise in danger of moving than the Raptors. That being said the Raptors continue to face these same issues that have been a part of this franchise for 15 years.
Jerome Williams a former Raptor was on the Fan 590 today speaking about this topic of American players coming and playing here in Canada. It has been our pleasure to have him as a guest here on a couple of occasions in the Dino Nation Blog. He is a guy that clearly loves the city of Toronto and the city loves him back. He is also a very intelligent individual as well. He did something in this interview that is not talked about enough. The advantages of playing here in Canada and in Toronto. Why do we not hear more of this? Why isn't MLSE at the front of the line doing this. They can't sit back and let people go off half baked talking about high taxes in this country and let that go unchallenged. The reality of the matter is 5 NBA teams offer better tax situations. In the states of Florida (Orlando, Miami) and Texas ( Dallas, Houston and San Antonio).
Instead of investing time in a public relations war with Chris Bosh, it might be better served going on the offensive and promoting this franchise in the U.S. Get out and educate the young basketball players about Canada and the Raptors. Attack these bozos that attack this franchise and say things that are flat out ignorant about this country. Also get in the ear of the league office and demand they do something about this. The Commissioner came out and said he would rather see Lebron James stay in Cleveland. Well what about Chris Bosh and what about all the misconceptions and lies that are stated about your lone Canadian franchise. There use to be 2 of them, but Vancouver went to that thriving NBA city of Memphis. Yeah that has really worked out well hasn't it?
It is the Canadian thing to do to sit back and just allow people to be ignorant about things here and laugh about it. Finding it amusing that some people in the United States actually still in this modern world think we live in igloos up here. But that is not going to cut it. The Toronto Blue Jays faced many of these same challenges that the Raptors do. What were they doing in year 16? They were winning the World Series. They did it by changing perceptions and spending money. Many top stars in baseball made up those championship teams. Jack Morris, Dave Winfield, Dave Stewart, Paul Molitor Rick Henderson and others. The Raptors are about as far from the NBA Championship as they were when the franchise started. Maybe not that far, but pretty close to it.
Raptor fans have remained loyal through many challenging seasons, with very little payoff for that support. Just one playoff series win and one division title in 15 years with a handful of playoff appearances. Just how long are Raptor fans expected to sit back and watch star players leave going home to the United States? While the Raptors have tried to find a way around this problem going for European players and trying to win that way. It ultimately has failed and really cite the example where a team with a European player as the main player has won? The odds are just not good. Dirk came close with Dallas but beyond that I can not think of an example.
I am not saying that this is an easy process here...it isn't. But the Raptors need to start working to fix these problems rather than try to find ways to work around them. Canada can be a great place and offer things that while being different can be better. It is time to start pointing out these things and making people aware of them. I think it also would be a good thing for Toronto to host an NBA All-Star game. There seems to be some issues in making that happen. However it is up to MLSE to solve those issues and go to the league and strongly request they be given this game. They are one of only a few cities that has never hosted the event. Another thing that needs to change is allowing your television partners to bury your product on alternate channels that not everyone has or wants access too. TSN 2 and Sportsnet 1 (starting in the middle of August) are not helping the Raptors or doing them any favours. Sure they may have got the big score money wise in selling the rights to the games. Is that really seeing the big picture though?
I live this stuff everyday. It is in my best interest for the Raptors to be as successful as possible. More people are going to read this blog if the Raptors are successful that is not rocket science. However, before there was this blog to do everyday, I was just a fan like you that just wanted my team to be successful. The fact I have an interest in it now based on what I do has not made me any more passionate about it. I have always had passion for basketball, and since 1994 for the Toronto Raptors. I grow frustrated, and to a point angry, that we continue to have the same conversations over and over again. We need people to start thinking out of the box and coming up with the solutions to these problems. For 15 years the basketball paying public in this country have supported the Raptors, to levels beyond what any franchise with a track record of the Raptors could hope for. In payment of that support you deserve people doing more to fix these issues and build a team that is worthy of the support it receives.
If this is not done the Raptors could be doomed to failure for years to come. Even if the Young Guns become a raging success, what is to say a Demar DeRozan does not just become the next one to thank Toronto for helping make him a star, as he leaves to go elsewhere in the future. At some point you need to accept there is a problem and find a soloution to it. That time has come for the Toronto Raptors. It doesn't matter if the preceptions of people in the U.S are wrong or even ignorant. Preception is in fact reality and it is on the Raptors to change their reality.