So Now What?

It is all over Chris Bosh came back and Toronto is still standing. The Raptors put up a much better fight then Cavs did under similar circumstances in December. The Raptors and the fans refused to lay down and play dead in this one. Chris Bosh like all the other former stars performed well in his return to Toronto. From the Raptor point of view their 2 best players left in the post Bosh era played like it last night at least on offence. Bargnani's defence makes you just cringe at times but no one can deny his offence was on point last night. Lots of clutch shots and a number of them big three pointers. While DeRozan before a busy All-Star Weekend back at home was focused on the task at hand. Perfect 6-6 at the line and had 24 points a couple steals and block. While Ed Davis who some pointed to as the eventual replacement of Bosh when he was drafted out of UNC came to play last night. He had 8 points and was one of few Raptors active on the glass with 13 rebounds. He combined with Amir Johnson with 11 boards accounted for over half of the Raptors rebounds on the night with 41 all totalled for the team. Davis is never going to be what Bosh is on offence but on defence he has potential to be much better.

The future for Bosh in Toronto was sealed with kisses to the crowd after he was booed loudly during a post game interview. People who think they know better will say this is going away eventually. It isn't, Chris Bosh and Toronto will always be at odds and like Vince Carter and T-Mac he is always going to hear boos from the fans. Honestly with his immature and stupid behaviour he has earned all of it. To continue to preach that you did nothing wrong in how you left is not anything anyone is going to buy except Chris. Bosh went from a guy that once claimed to want to be part of the solution in Toronto, to now a footnote in the problems for Toronto. You can certainly question the job the Raptors did in surrounding him. No matter how anyone may feel personally about him the point he made about this franchise not being a tax team and going that extra mile to win is 100% correct. But what is also true is Chris Bosh has done nothing but stick his foot in his mouth in talking about Toronto since he left. Bosh said that if people were able to boo him they never really supported him to begin with. I am paraphrasing but it was basically something to that effect. He just doesn't get it and doubt he ever will. Most people I think are disappointed in how he has changed as person. He is not the same person and many will say it is not for the better. He may win titles and get all the fame he wants. But he also might have sold his character as a person to do it. In the world we live some would say that it doesn't matter as long as you win. But it should matter how you win as well.

It is good that this game was last before the All-Star Break because I think everyone needs some time to recover from this. The most important thing about all of this I said was how the Raptors young players would respond to this circus like environment. The good news is for the most part they stepped up to the challenge. What becomes difficult now is how the Raptors will close out the rest of this season. There is at least for me, a sense of climax to this season. Let's face it there will not be another game like this all year. The Heat will return to Toronto to close out the season and unless it means something for Miami there is no guarantee Bosh, Wade or James will even play much if at all. But despite that this season will march on and the development and decisions that are made will impact on this team's future. It is vital that a guy like Andrea Bargnani build off what he did tonight and DeRozan as well. Not to mention Ed Davis, Bayless and a list of others all have to continue to grow.

I do not expect the trade deadline to provide many answers for the future. I expect the Raptors to be fairly quiet at the deadline. There is just a sense that while there is still roughly 2 months left in this season that this was the peak, and on the other side there is the cold reality of what this season has been. Which is a major disappointment. I laugh at how people suggest the Raptors are some how better without Chris Bosh. They are not. Can they fix this and make the team better and eventually have a new star and new face for this franchise. Absolutely they can. While the person Chris Bosh has become makes me both sick and sad at the same time. The basketball player is still one of the most skilled players at his position in the league. Ed Davis is not going to replace Chris Bosh and no one else is. If you are truly honest about it no one has ever really replaced Vince Carter. I wonder what Carter thought of last night as a side note. The boos were louder for him. But the boos will still come for both. But the Raptors can not easily replace them as both were deserving All-Stars in their time here. NBA All-Stars do not just come along ever year. In the history of this franchise there have only been 3. Antonio Davis was an All-Star once but was a replacement and not originally named an All-Star at the time.

How the Raptors and maybe more importantly the fans approach the rest of this season will be interesting. I have noticed as have many that attendance and interest has dropped off in the Toronto Raptors this season in terms of attendance and ratings. Last night was a reminder of what Toronto can be in terms of a basketball market. But this was more like the circus coming to town. There is enough hardcore interest in this team for it to never truly be in danger. However people want and crave more nights like last night and none of those are coming anytime soon. Add in the fact there lockout looming, if I was MLSE it would concern me. A lot of the hardcore fans are fed up to a point. Last night some of that frustration got aimed at Chris Bosh. But if you were listening to fans comments in the build up to this game a lot was at Colangelo and MLSE as well. Four times now this franchise has failed to keep it's marquee attraction and they have to find a way to fix this problem. When you already see fans talking about "When DeRozan Leaves" you have a problem. It is easy to think a kid from L.A would bolt just like everyone else. But will see what future holds. If there is a guy that stays for the long haul he will be loved like no other in this franchises history. I am excited to see what Demar can do this weekend. After that I am not sure if anything will be all that exciting the rest of this year.

A sad way to end this but a very honest one. But I don't want to go out on a downer like that. So instead I will thank all the folks that came out last night to our party. I also want to thank Manu and the entire staff at St Louis Wings for being a great host to our event. Also thanks to Forest Kenney from Molsons/MGD, The Young Onez, Tas Melas from Basketball Jones, and Julian Wright who was an unexpected visitor after the party had wrapped up. They all contributed in making it a great experience for everyone that came out. Also for all that did come out thanks to all of you as well. Hamilton is my home but more and more Toronto is becoming my second home and it is as a result of all the great people I have got to know there. It is an ever growing list and it makes it feel like a 2nd home for me. You all make me feel like a Champion and I got the picture to prove it:

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