When you think of someone as the “Face of a Franchise” that person is often the best player on the team. If your talking about the Toronto Raptors that would be Rudy Gay currently. However his future with the Raptors seems to be up in the air. He also almost seems like he is not really a Raptor at this point.
DeMar DeRozan was hoped to be this face for the franchise but it is becoming clearer that he is not to that level. He is a good player and can be a part of success but as we have seen at times when he is the focus of attention on the floor as the number one option it doesn’t seem to click.
Jonas Valanciunas seems like a candidate to be the future face of this franchise. He has exciting upside and a lot of talent currently. He does have an outgoing and dynamic personality but is still adjusting to the language and culture. Some day he may well be the man but that day isn’t today.
Why does the “Face of Franchise” have to be the best player on the floor? Well it really doesn’t have to be. In the real definition of what a face of franchise should be is who is the player that most represents a franchise to you.
If we use that simple definition of what the term means the answer for the Toronto Raptors is very simple.
Amir Johnson is that guy that you think of first when you think of the Toronto Raptors as a hardcore fan. After all who is more active in the community and with the fan base than this guy? I am not talking in the stuff the Raptors do in terms of PR where the players are asked to do this or that by the organization to do this or that.
I am confident in saying no one told Amir Johnson to start taking out 50 fans to dinner and game ever year with his Roll with Amir Event. No one told Amir Johnson to go buy out stores with Drake’s new album and give them away to people for free. No one said go hire a make-up artist to dress you up like a zombie and go be part of some zombie walk. Go to the UFC and mug for the cameras. Go to Leafs games and go to Blue Jay games. Oh and while your at it if you could wear some of the teams gear that would be great too.
The simple fact of it all is Amir Johnson is the most visible figure in Toronto on the Raptors. He has worked hard to make fans happy with contest after contest and engaging the fan base as much as any player could be expected too and going far beyond that.
This effort has been consistent regardless of his personal performance or the team’s performance as a whole. I have attempted on many occasions to try and understand what is behind these effort by this man. He always responds with a similar answer of that is just who he is.
In a world that is full of a lot of fake people Amir Johnson is a genuine gem in a sea of phoney folks. He has an ability to just connect with people from stars like Drake, to his team, to his fans. He treats everyone like they are important and that even includes some blogger who isn’t always around covering the team.
If you have a conversation with Amir Johnson and don’t feel a little better about him or yourself it is next to impossible. He may not produce the numbers or have the role that you would consider him that natural “Face of the Franchise” but to me when I think Toronto Raptors he is the face that pops in my head.
He embraced this city when yet another superstar turned its back on Toronto. He will always have a special place in Raptors history. I have told him personally that I feel he will be loved in this city long after his days on a basketball court are done. He is a modern version of what Jerome Williams was for this franchise. Even at the height of Vince Carter’s popularity the fans loved the JYD.
Amir Johnson to me is the best example of a pro athlete that truly gets what it is all suppose to be about. Not just how much you make, how much you can do to further your personal career but about the fans that pay the bills at the end of the day.
I look forward to seeing no player more on Media Day on Monday than Amir Johnson.