The Raptors world tour making stops in Vancouver, London and Montreal. All stops should be profitable for the Raptors. But it is kind of like a world tour of a band without a lead singer. The league and Raptors confirmed that Toronto will play the two dates in March in London, as previously mentioned here in the DNB. Raptors will also be playing the Suns in Vancouver which has been confirmed in pre-season and the word on street is Raps will take on the Knicks in Montreal also in pre season. Where was this stuff when the Raptors were a viable playoff team? Why shouldn't Montreal and Vancouver be the ones getting regular season games? Obviously the league agenda to grow the game globally takes precedence. However how is the NBA doing at growing the game in the nation they actually put teams in? The Grizzlies are long gone and Raptors can't keep star players.
TSN and Sportsnet the NBA's broadcast partners continue to bury the product of both Raptors and NBA on secondary networks (TSN 2 and soon to launch Sportsnet 1) . It is a real mixed message as the growth of basketball on the youth level is good in this country. The real fruit of having the NBA is starting to grow and you only need to check out the under 18 Canadian National teams (Both Men and Women) and the amount of players in NCAA basketball and AAU basketball down in the states. Basketball since 1994 has seen an up swing in participation and level of players this country is producing.
It is important that the ball keeps rolling in the right direction. There is passion and love for basketball across this country. It just takes that spark to set it off. I am not a huge MMA or UFC fan. However I have always been impressed by it's fan base. They constantly get on the media and demand coverage of their sport. Basketball fans can learn something from that. It takes people constantly pounding on doors and writing e-mails, calling in on radio and other ways you can make your voices heard. UFC has broken into the main stream and it is in part due to the fans.
Do we as basketball fans just get frustrated after years of being ignored? Possible. Things have gotten better from when I was growing up. The idea of having the ability to watch games on T.V every night from anywhere across the NBA was not even possible at any price. But still the lack of coverage of basketball is really an issue and far more so in other parts of this country. So the Raptors going to Vancouver and likely Montreal is a good thing. But it is just a couple days of buzz and they go away. It takes constant effort to be heard in those markets and other markets across this country.
A larger problem for all fans of the NBA looms next summer. The labour stoppages in both Hockey and Baseball that resulted in lost championships have forever changed my view of these sports. I pray that basketball does not head that route. If it does I am going to be the biggest hypocrite on the earth. I love basketball to much to give it up. In terms of baseball and hockey my interest levels in those sports has never returned to the level it was prior to those labour disputes. Basketball has always manged to crown a champion and give it's fans a champion. I deeply respect that and it means something. Even if it is a token gesture it shows the league cares about it's fans and not just the bottom line. It may not be real but it is a nice delusion to buy into. I pray my delusion is not shattered in a million pieces next season.