Friday, January 23, 2009

Underperforming or Performing? An Unforgiving Crowd.

How nice it is to celebrate a victory again! You can't help but look at the box score and feel a sense of nostalgia, out-rebounded, better shooting fg%, 3p%, Ft%, multiple players in double figures, low turnovers and no Solomon. That was the raps of two season ago was it not?

But as we reminisce on the horror of another losing streak and as more and more fans hurled themselves headfirst off the bandwagon, I personally can't help but wonder, was our assessment fair? Looking back at that last seven games, Boston, Boston, Chicago, Indiana, Phoenix, Atlanta, Detroit. Even with a healthy lineup we could and probably would have lost five of those easily. Chicago and Indiana would and still were the only "gettable games" but as far as I'm concerned, whether you even include Chicago as winnable is debatable. I'm always worried when we play the Bulls or the Bucks. They both just have so much talent on their roster you never know what kind of team you're really going to face. It's about the same as predicting whether good Joey or bad Joey will be showing up.

Again, to reiterate. I'm sure many of you would struggle to rationalize that you would bet on the Raptors against the Celtics, Suns, Atlanta or Detroit this season. And having realized that, is it fair or justifiable to be so angry at losses when we were missing two of our best players? Take out West and Chandler, how many games can Paul carry them when he already does so much for them. (BTW, I'm adding this later because I just noticed that those two didn't play today and lo and behold, they lost to the T-Wolves.) Whoever you believe is the best player on the Celtics, take out the other two and how many games can they win. With them, its even easier to imagine because so many of them were alone for so long in their careers and failed to succeed. Given that we were actually still competitive in a lot of those games should be viewed as an accomplishment in itself. For the most part, we lost simply because we can only hide having no floor general for so long!

I know in the NBA it's a common understanding that injuries are a part of the game. You can't whine about who you don't have, you have to play with what you've got. But for the Raptors, we have a team where virtually all our talent is in a handful of players and if 50% of them are gone, how much can we really expect from the rest of the team. After all, we are talking about a team where in the last two years, two players signed as the 13th man, aka water/towel boy/seat filler were able to in one instance, crack the starting lineup, and in another, for a substantial period of time, be the first big man off the bench. This is a stark contrast to the rest of the NBA who chooses to not play their 13th man and in many cases, waive them. You understand of course that this is the equivalent to paying them to GTFO.

So let's try to be a not only a supportive fan base, but an understanding one. Everyone's at fault here, myself included for getting frustrated and throwing our team under the bus. It's just natural when something you love as much as we do slaps you in the face but something Doug Smith once pointed out stuck with me. You look back at that Portland game where they almost blew the lead, their crowd was 100% behind them more eager to help the team get over their shooting drought while if this was at our beloved ACC, I can't help but wonder how we would have reacted.

Perhaps this is a reflection of our fan base. Coming here just three years ago, I remember buying tickets of any quantity anywhere in the stadium being as easy as Jamario missing a shot. And with one year of success, I remember tickets selling out almost instantly. Maybe this is what you get with a huge percentage of fans being bandwagon, but I'd like to think after two years, that as a fan group, we have grown. After all, we expect players to grow every year, should we not be equally responsible? The best teams in the NBA have the best crowds, so maybe we can do something more to help our team out and help set the precedent for excellence.

Let's start bringing this environment, every game, hell, everyday!


  1. Man. I hope more Raptors fans can read this.
    I went to Spurs Lakers last year, and the crowd
    was 100% behind the team even when they were slumping. You should have seen what an effect this had on the team. As Manu once said, the crowd hits them during the time outs, fouls or any break from play. That is the only time even the most concentrated of players cant block the crowd out.
    But i think it has to do more on the fans here not liking some players. When Jose or Bosh miss, the fans usually sigh but keep cheering. But it's really MOON (and co) who they really want to munch up.

  2. wow spurs lakers, what a game that must have been! Yea I know what you mean about hitting the team during timeouts. I was at the Suns game the other day and I couldn't help but notice that even though the game was close and exciting all the way throughout, the crowd only got into it with like 5 minutes left.

  3. i think the reaction (or lack thereof) in the Suns game is a reaction I often have when the Raps blow leads. It used to be frustrating, but now I've almost become apathetic when we're losing. it's true, we should support them more, and bosh even said himself that if he wanted to get booed, he'd go on the road. its just so. damn. frustrating.

  4. Upbeat post Malin. I just read on the Republic that the Raptors are 9th in attendance - that's astonishing. Despite all the losing and the disastrous of a season so far, we're still drawing crowds by the bundles. Now is that part of the MLSO money-making conspiracy (as in that's all they care about)? That's another story.