Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Excitement for 2007-2008

And here we are in the final stretch. The summer fun with the FIBA America's and Euro's are complete. Raptor TV is playing every single game from last year (let's hope they include the playoffs which they have yet to replay). Training camp and preseason is coming. Fantasy drafts are be prepared for. And the 30 team season preview is just about ready to be released.

BUT we are not there quite yet. Damn this off-season is just dragging on and on. That's what happens when your team does what the Raptors did. Let's be honest, there never was that much excitement for a brand new NBA season when you are a Toronto Raptors fan. At least not in the past 4 years.

Going into the 2000-2001 season, the Raptors had just made it to the playoffs for the first time ever, and clearly had big things ahead of them. The excitement for the new season was high because of that. And the Raps didn't disappoint. In fact, they were a Vince Carter jump shot away from going into the finals against Shaq and the Lakers. (Yes, I know that the philly vs. Raps series was only in the second round and they would have still needed to beat the Bucks, but they would have). So even though it was a heartbreaking ending, it was still a great ending and showed that the team was living up to the potential we all felt they had.

So going into 2001-2002, expectations had risen even more. We knew they could win a playoff series, now it was time to be the team of the east. And then it all started to fall apart. Vince got hurt, and while the Raps did have a great end to the season and made the playoffs and give it a great 5 game series against Detroit, it was the beginning of the end for this short lived era.

Going into 2002-2003, the excitement was still there. The injuries from the previous year were gone (at least we thought they were) and Vince Carter was not a complete pussy yet. But regardless of the reasons, the season still ended with a 24-58 record. At that point the enthusiasm started to die as the issues started to pop up. Antonio Davis wanting out, Vince Carter wanting out ect.

But at least we had the glory of those 3 years. And it was wonderful.

I guess thats why I am not a big fan of playing for the future. Of course you have to keep the future in mind, but i think you need to make an attempt to win a champtionship every single year. Not build a team who would compete for one in 5 or 6 years. I know that teams need experience, but better to go after it now then later on. Because the reality is that anything can happen both good and bad. Look at Greg Oden. Portland was putting together a nice looking team that would be in the playoffs in 2 or 3 years and compete for a championship in 4 or 5. Now Greg Oden is being compared to Sam Bowie. Sure Oden will be back and possibly be a force, and Portland will get a high draft pick next year. They might still be a championship team in 6 years. But now the chances of that happening have decreased. 6 years is a very long time and anything can happen. Something already HAS happened!

Look at the Celtics, they had a very young team with some nice pieces. But even if Pierce didn't get injuried last year, they still were not going anywhere. 8th spot in the playoffs, maybe. But is that something to be proud of? 8th spot in the weak east? So they changed direction and went for the now instead of the later. They got rid of a lot of the youth and brought in the superstars.

Let's forget the depth issue for a moment. Boston IF healthy will be a playoff team and a threat to anyone they play in the playoffs. We don't even need to see them play, we know it's true. So instead of having the youth and possibly contending for a championship in 5 or 6 years, they are going to contend for a championship this year. As for the future, worry about it then! Who says they won't be able to make a few moves over the next 4 or 5 years and be contending for a championship in 5 years as well.

Anything good or bad can happen over the course of 5 years. So instead of playing the waiting game and hoping it works out, go for it all right away and try to maintain instead of trying to build.

The Raptors during the 1999-2002 era gave us a taste of success, and then it all went away just as quickly. But we had the taste. Now we are getting it again and it's even sweeter this time around. I wish every fanbase could get that taste. Look at how much Golden State fans loved it this year? I thought the Raptor fans were great, but even I know that nothing compared to the Warriors home reactions.

I feel bad for Atlanta, a team for various reasons, that is playing for the future. And with that direction, they have not been to the playoffs in a long long time. Being a fan of a losing franchise can be tough, believe me I know. But to make the fans wait for 3-5 years for any kind of success is not the risk worth taking. For 2 years I was fully into relocation jokes about the Raps because of how bad they were doing. And if they stayed the course, it would not have gotten any better. But instead of playing for the future and hoping the young guys would improve, our lord and saviour Bryan Colangelo flipped the team, and brought in a roster who could win today. And now I am going into the 2007-2008 season more excited then I have been for any of the previous Raptor seasons.

And this is what you get in this final stretch, a blog entry that really has no point to it.

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