I am writing this about an hour before Game one of the Raptors return to the playoffs. I find it a time of a lot of emotions rolling through me. While I have went on the record saying I don’t expect the Raptors to win that doesn’t mean I am not proud of them or cheering for them.
I just look at things through two heck maybe even three different lenses. There is the one that I have always tried to maintain in 6 years of doing the Dino Nation Blog.
That means being straight and not getting caught up in all the hype and hoopla that surrounds this team. Let’s face it people have been dying for this to happen for years to see this team return to the playoffs. Vince Carter and Chris Bosh both lost faith in this franchises ability to compete for a NBA Championship. They left and we remained and in that sense this is some form of validation for the fans that have remained.
I don’t think this group is as good as that team Carter took to one shot away from being in the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t think anyone can honestly think the Raptors will get that close this time around. Even if I am wrong and the Raptors do find a way past the Nets the Miami Heat would be the next opponent and that will not be pretty.
I think of the six year journey of the Dino Nation Blog and think of two Raptors that have been here for the majority of it. Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan have been here to pick up the pieces and deserve a moment and a day like this.
I started to have access to this team and on that trip up to Ottawa to cover training camp I met a young man who like me loved his mother and wanted to succeed in part for her. Something I can relate to on a personal level. That young man was of course DeMar DeRozan and to have watched him work and grow and now have a daughter of his own has been a tremendous thrill.
To get to know this loveable guy that has embraced this city and the fans in it like no guy since Jerome Williams was barking up a storm has been great too. I have always supported Amir Johnson and DeMar and loved them for all the effort they put in even when not as many people we cheering and supporting the cause.
I was one that always was against the people that wanted to see both of these guys traded and moved during the rough times in the last 5 years. When some prior to this season suggested the Raptors should keep Gay and trade DeRozan I said they were wrong. When Colangelo gave DeRozan an extension that many said was crazy and to much money I said just wait DeRozan will grow into that contract and earn that money. Years earlier I said the same about Amir Johnson.
I have love and faith in these guys as people regardless of if they play for the Raptors or not. I am happy they made it to see this day.
I remain somewhat grounded in the not so great history of this franchise. We have seen these optimistic moments before. It has not always worked out in the end. While many say this is different and this is the time the Raptors will finally get it right I am one of the few that remains unconvinced of that fact.
I kind of get made ill by the marketing madness of MLSE as they push this return to the playoffs for all it is worth. I am not down with RTZ or WE The North or any other marketing slogan. I am also not down with ticket prices going up across the board at the first sign of success.
I hate to see the loyalty of this fan base exploited but in some strange way I admire how MLSE is able to do it without blinking.
It has been a great year for the Raptors while for me personally it has been a year of struggle. It many ways feels like the end of a journey to get to this point. I see history repeating itself like 2007 when these to clubs met. I am not that big into believing in miracles but I realize they can sometimes occur.
Still this is a moment of survival in many ways and for those of you that have stuck with it with this team and with this blog today regardless of the result of the game is some reason to celebrate even if it might not turn out to be as good as advertised. The point is we all made it to see this day. A day that when this year started, truly no one could have imagined possible this isn’t suppose to be happening but it is.