I am not sure what I expected after 16 seasons of the Raptors being in the NBA. But this team really lacks tradition. It is always constant change. The place they call home has seen more makeovers to it's court than perhaps any other team in the same time frame. The entire colour scheme has changed. There is a lot of people that would suggest the Raptors name itself should change to Huskies. The Raptors are on their 8th coach now and there have been many changes of culture. The Raptors lack any kind of lasting identity. The Raptors really lack any kind of true rivalries. Most of the Raptors attempts at having a rival have not lasted. When it all started there was the Grizzlies who were their natural rival. They of course went to Memphis and so ended that. The Sixers and Raptors battled in one of the best playoff series in history. But soon after both teams fell on hard times and the rivalry fizzled. There have been the rivals based on guys leaving. A couple of times with the Magic based on T-Mac and Vince being part of that franchise. There was a playoff series between the two as well. The same story with the Nets as Vince was traded to them and there was one playoff series between the two, along with sharing a division. But by and large none of these have stuck. Some would say the Celtics are but that is more the bully in the school yard that has taken your lunch money for years.
When you think of the Raptors what pops in your head? Perhaps fans booing Vince or T-Mac. If the Raptors have any sort of tradition it lies more in the fans. They have always booed the guy that has left them high and dry. They have always cheered the guys that hustled and busted their butt even after they have left. A group that is always discounted but continues to show up.
This is not just the Raptors issue in fact the NBA team I had cheered for prior to the Raptors was a lot like that. The Charlotte now New Orleans Hornets. Short of a Ric Flair WOOOOO!!! I am not sure the Hornets have any real kind of tradition. When you say Hornets not any rival jumps to mind. Is this just a case of it take a long time for expansion teams to make roots. In the case of the Hornets they were up rooted and replaced by Bobcats.
But OKC has only been around for a short time and they already have some tradition. The fans don't sit until their team scores a basket. They despite having some ugly uniforms and a pretty simple logo have kept it the same. They still lack rivals but you can see some starting to grow for them vs Dallas and Memphis. Thunder Up has been made famous by the tweets of their superstar Kevin Durant.
MLSE owns one of the most traditional and iconic franchises in Hockey. The Leafs have fed off that tradition for years. After all when you have not won a championship since 1967 what else can you do. They have many rivals some old traditional ones like with the Habs, to new and more modern ones with the Sens. They even market it as "the tradition that binds us all". Yet on the Raptors side of MLSE that tradition is lacking.
Perhaps it comes down to the simple fact of not a lot of winning. Hence you have constant change to try and run away from your not so spectacular past. Whatever the reason is the fact the Raptors lack any sort of tradition is something as someone who has supported them from day one I find myself craving.
I grew up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. They have all you could ask for in that regard. The star on the side of a silver helmet is iconic. They have traditional rivals that last no matter records of either side. You say Cowboys and Redskins and people have a long history to draw on between the two teams. You can not be a Redskins fan and like the Cowboys and the same is true if you cheer for the Cowboys if you like them you hate a number of teams Giants, Redskins, Eagles and 49ers will never be teams you cheer.
I hope that I live long enough to see the Raptors have a tradition and true identity. I am not sure a rock that sits in the dressing room is going to be it. But what the Raptors have to do is stop changing the paint on the floor, the colours on a uniform and say this is who we are and what we are. That is something that is needed. Perhaps that comes along with simple winning. But maybe you need to start establishing that before the winning comes. I don't crave 3-D logos or countless variations of uniforms. I carve something that is the same and feels like home. Feels like a good old sweater that is comfortable. In 16 years the Raptors have yet to provide that.