NBA

Turning New Leafs

Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh NBA 2010

So it’s a done deal right? Even as no contracts have changed hands and no ink has dried it’s still almost a certainty that Chris Bosh will only look like a Raptor next season. Well nothings for certain but even the most optimistic of GM’s, Bryan Colangelo admits that CB4 is most ‘likely’ taking his underrated game to a bigger market.

The Toronto Raptors have some rebuilding works in process already but with the free agent signing period looming they should think about making a better push at keeping their cement guy.

Bosh may be where the franchise starts but he’s not the be all and end all. Toronto has some other issues that they need to take care of before this franchise becomes a dinosaur team in this league.

At the peak of this team’s power over the last decade they were almost unstoppable. They actually had a solid, decent squad of players running from 1-15 and had a legitimate shot at being a contender for the first time since Air Canada made his departure. They need to get back to this level of play.

This was back in 2006 where the Raps came out of nowhere to be the Phoenix Suns of the East. A lot had changed about the franchise, ownership, money, court design, color schemes etc. The franchise was refreshed and invigorated. Gone where the previous childish logos, the team wasn’t playing kids games any more. Colangelo’s input had given this team the push they needed. Even the red and white uniforms spoke volumes for their patriotic stance towards their country. The Raptors weren’t about to take the Memphis Grizzlies route, they where here to stay in Canada.

Hip-hop music was being played between timeouts; an attractive presenter was keeping fans interested. The whole setup in the Air Canada Centre breathed new life into this team. The fans came out in capacities and gave the team those all important energy boosts.

As for the players Bosh was becoming more and more comfortable with himself resulting in him becoming more and more of a force and one of the premier players in this league. He let his hair grow out and he let his game spill over on to the court. He even came back from injury to clinch a game winning three from the then Iverson and C-Webb led 76ers. Basketball was getting exciting up north now. It was time for the network anchors to grab their warm clothes and take a trip across the border to see real ball. Basketball without borders, yeah the Raps showed that.

The rest of the team stood out as well. TJ Ford made sure that fans soon forgot about Charlie V and Fred Jones was throwing mid- second quarter dunks down hard, making it almost impossible for fans to go get some snacks. If concession profits fell then Freddy would have to be fingered for that one.

The team had a real international flavor as well. This brought extra options to the team and extra dimensions to the game. Anthony Parker shot the lights out most nights, he was one of the most slept on role players in the league as he was capable of lighting up to 20 quicker than most bench players in the league, he was pure. A player who was dirty on the other hand was Jorge Garbajosa. Garbo however was dirty in a good way, take Chris Oakley, Rick Fox and ‘The Junkyard Dog’ and mix them all together then you’ve got ‘The Garbage Man’. A loyal worker who handled all the rough plays, hustled hard and had a pretty stroke to counter his gruff look. It’s amazing Garbo is no longer in the NBA as he’s the type of role player that champions are made of, but then again this is the league where amazing happens after all.

All though he showed some Rookie teething problems Andrea Bargnani was showing real promise especially in certain runs in the game. Jose Calderon was drawing most of the non-Bosh attention however. He was so quick, talented and prolific that he was taking Ford’s drive for the starting position of point guard away. He showed a rare mix of speed and scoring prowess for a small guy that Tony Parker had shown before him and that Rajon Rondo has showed since. When Jose was taking off court on a stretcher during a home game against Golden State fans looked like the Raptors season was in jeopardy. That game was only in earl December, that’s how little time it took for Jose to make a certain impact.

So this T-Dot team where putting their exclamation point on a league that had disregarded them as the ‘last remaining Canadian franchise’ or ‘that team Vince Carter’ used to play for (You can still hear the boo’s and hisses right?) The Raptors where playoff bound and the future looked bright but since then over the last four years they have looked less and less like this team. This franchise is far from becoming extinct but their glory years are looking more and more like memories for youtube then current highlight reels. The time for buffering is over this team needs to be seen clearly for what they can be.

Toronto is one of those underrated cities and their basketball team was looking like that too. With that being said however Toronto is still one of those big market, tourist cities. All the foreigners coming for a visit back in ’06 (Whether holiday or visa related) would have been pleasantly surprised to see a Raptors game. Nowadays they’ll just stick to Leaf games because Ice Hockey is Canada’s bread and butter.

This can all change however. Some of the Raptors core may have rotted but this basketball team can still eat if they just show their still hungry for success and so long as they don’t make a meal out of the good things they have. This type of fire and determination which was displayed in 2006 is still here now but if it was shown more however than just maybe Bosh wouldn’t be looking to make real Heat in Miami with ‘Bron and Wade or looking to add his celebrity to the Lakers Hollywoodland.

Bryan Colangelo is a business man, and a smart one too so even though a sign and trade looks like his best option financially it may be time for ‘angelo to get his ‘Mark Cuban’ on and show some heart over money. It may be time for Bryan to show that he’s all about rebuilding the foundations that he laid with this team back in what was arguably the franchises best all-round year. Then Bosh may even stay and it may just feel like 2006 again.

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