I have loved basketball since I was as little as Kid Raptor. It has been a passion for me and a sport that I have always loved. That love is going through some tough times these last few years though. The Raptors had finally won a Division Title and there was finally some hope. After Vince Carter had been traded, in what at the time was one of the worst trades in NBA History. In fact it still stands up well to some of the awful trades of today. Boston had went through a drought in the history of that proud franchise. Paul Pierce was frustrated and on the verge of taking his talents elsewhere. It would lead to the creation of the Boston Big 3 that included Pierce along with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. It would also help evolve Rajon Rondo into a star in his own right. Hope of the Raptors winning another Atlantic Division title were basically gone.
That led to the Summer of 2010 and the creation of the Miami Big 3 which would include as it's third wheel the Toronto Raptors only true star in Chris Bosh. Now forget about winning divisions or even making the playoffs. Raptors would be kicked to the back of the NBA bus and be a constant presence in the NBA Lottery. They would have Cleveland joining them in that role. They lost Lebron James who most would concede was the best player in the game at the time and now.It sparked a hole diva like era of the NBA. Carmelo Anthony would force his way out of Denver, Chris Paul no longer would call New Orleans home. Deron Williams before he had chance to do the same was shipped off New Jersey and now is happy to be part of Brooklyn version of the Nets with a fat new contract.
Now today we have the end of the Dwight Howard Saga in Orlando. After getting a coach fired that didn't deserve to be and a G.M that deserved to be, that was ultimately not enough to satisfy the once loved Howard to remain in Orlando. He wanted out and he was successful in his confused diva act approach of finding his way out. Poor Orlando fans watch another star center go to the Lakers. Just like Shaq did he lead the Magic to one NBA Final but came up short. Raptor fans can only imagine what making an NBA Final is like. Perhaps if Vince made that three pointer in Philly we would know as well. Still it has to suck for Magic fans. In fact what is the lesson in all of this? Basically 20 NBA Teams have no chance in hell of making the NBA Finals including the Raptors. That is a fun way to enter a season isn't it.
While you can say the Raptors have made some moves that make them better ultimately when you have big names piling up on only a few rosters it makes that hard to deal with. Some of the fall out of the D-12 trade is it finds Andrew Bynum the Lakers All-Star center who was good but not Dwight finding his way to Philly. Jonas be he good or bad falls short of the Sixers having a ready made All-Star at center. It just really makes you feel bad for Bryan Colangelo. I mean how can he honestly win? He did try to land Steve Nash who now will be the guy having the positive problem of if he should lob it to Dwight? Pass it to Kobe? Or set up Gasol on the block? Sounds a lot better than options he would have had in Toronto without question.
Still wait a minute maybe we should not just give Colangelo a pass. Someone that worked under him has managed to find a way to have some success. Masai Ujiri some how ended up the winner of a trade to the only team a Superstar player wanted to play for. Orlando might have wanted to take notes. Ujiri has kept the Nuggets competitive despite being held at gun point to trade Anthony to New York. He also today got in on this four way trade and landed a guy a lot of Raptor fans wanted to see here. Andre Iguodala is now a Nugget not a Raptor. It all makes you wonder if the Raptors should have said good bye Bryan and promoted Masai Ujiri. He might not have get the Nuggets to a title but he has found a way to keep them competitive.
Still this is bigger than the Raptors and their outlook. It is about fans in like 20+ markets in the NBA that are asked to believe and have hope their franchise can some day climb the to mountain top and win an NBA Title. That is a nice dream to sell but far from realistic at this point. It would be nice to think that Kevin Durant like players grew on trees and that quiet superstars like Tim Duncan was a every year occurrence but that just isn't true. Not to mention having the both luck combined with skill the Spurs and Thunder have had in terms of the NBA Draft. Will it shock anyone if Chris Paul says he has no interest in being a Clipper and some how ends up being a Knick. Something he proclaimed at Anthony's wedding allegedly that they would both go to New York as part of their own Big Three. It wouldn't me.
I am growing frustrated with a league I once loved. It never seemed to be like it is today. However maybe it was and I was just to young and naive to notice. In the 80's the NBA was all about 2 teams in the 80's those being the Lakers and Celtics. Any other team that found a way to win was a minor miracle. Still it didn't seem as dirty as it does now. I don't think I have ever truly got over the Lockout last season. You know where David Stern promised to bring competitive balance to the NBA. I guess what he meant was to make owners more rich and continue to allow the players to run the league as long as Owners got paid. Sure every now and then he stops a Chris Paul trade to Lakers for basketball reasons. However the Lakers don't seem to be hurting today with settling for a Steve Nash and upgrading and an All-Star Center for a better All-Star Center. Yeah this league is really going great if you happen to be a Laker or Heat fan. If not than you only have a few realistic options. Even the plucky home grown Thunder have to be concerned at what they now see in Lakers Gold and Purple.
If this was a 80's gangster rap this would be where I would go into a swearing rant of all the people I would like to blame for this. It would include Dwight Howard all the way to David Stern. Ultimately I am just not angry enough to bother. In fact I am not sure that I am more angry or sad. The NBA is rapidly becoming a league of have and have not teams. When you have a class system in sports it feels just as unfair as having one in life. What is so great about fans in L.A, Chicago, Boston, Miami, I have seen fans that are just as passionate if not more here in Toronto, in places without teams like Seattle. In small markets like Sacramento and elsewhere. However, just look at what happened to the Kings. Their fans finally realized that they were doomed to fail after a few years of tasting the good life. I think it would take a minor miracle to see a day the Raptors would win an NBA Title.
It makes you wonder why bother? I guess because you just love the sport so much you allow yourself to become blind to the cold reality that your team is not suppose to win. All I know is the NBA I loved as a kid has become a greedy place with selfish egotistical jerks that are screwing it up. Still maybe it is something that Sonny Weems said to me the other day. You got to have fun and just enjoy basketball. I guess we are just conditioned to have the enjoyment attached to having winning or the hope of winning at the root of that. Today's NBA does a increasing good job of crushing that hope with trades like this and players demanding and dictating where they will play basketball. They love basketball to we are led to believe. It is just on their terms. So if you are lucky enough to draft one of those true superstars enjoy it while it lasts. Likely it isn't going to be forever. Unless it happens to be on a team like Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Kobe is happy but that really doesn't matter much to me.