Toronto Raptors fans know what love is. Most first felt its gentle stirrings when they acquired a young Vince Carter in 1998, only three years after the franchise’s conception. No one knew it at the time, but Carter would go on to light up the league in his first season, nabbing the Rookie of the Year trophy and enamoring a whole generation of kids across Canada.
That love would continue to intensify into the 1999-2000 season. If Vince Carter was a thrilling fling, full of big gestures (read: dunks) and spontaneity, Tracy McGrady was his steady partner—the Betty to his Veronica while Raptors fans got to play Archie.
For arguably the first time ever, basketball in Canada was exciting. Carter won the dunk contest in 2000, cementing his legacy not only in Toronto, but in the entire National Basketball Association. He was young, compelling, and he was carrying Canadian basketball into the spotlight. He escorted the Raptors to their first ever playoff appearance that year, and despite a first round knockout, there was no mistaking the sentiment burning in the hearts of Toronto fans; this was real love.
Like all first dates, Carter seemed almost too good to be true. He was putting up 25.7 points a game in his second year in the league and was getting featured on highlight shows every night. Then, Tracy McGrady left. That in itself was a small thing—McGrady was not yet the superstar he would become, but it put all the weight of the Raptors franchise on the shoulders of its young star.
To say the pressure wore Vince down would be a literal interpretation. Carter struggled with knee injuries throughout his time with the Raptors before advocating for his own trade in 2004. The trade left the fan base heartbroken; Vin-sanity had found a home in Toronto and to be betrayed by a franchise player stung.
Toronto fans’ next love would be different. Gun-shy from the Carter’s departure, they were hesitant to trust another flashy, young star. Cue the entrance of Chris Bosh. He gained the affections of Raptors fans slowly, through his steady play and work ethic. Sure, he put up points, but after being forced to play centre he garnered respect for being fearless in the paint against much stronger opponents.
Bosh was good. He was present. He cared. After Carter’s slow disenfranchisement, Bosh’s commitment meant everything to the fans. Couple that with his offensive prowess and you had one of the league’s best young big men racking up double-doubles, and slowly stalking records set by Carter. He just needed some help.
That help was supposed to come with the drafting of guys like Andrea Bargnani, but we all know how that worked out. Yet another promise made by the Raptors front office that failed to materialize. Eventually, those broken promises began to stack up.
Despite surpassing Carter’s all time point record in 2010, Bosh was getting antsy. The floundering Raptors didn’t show any signs of being genuine contenders and his contract was almost up.
The Raptors front office failed so monumentally to give Chris Bosh any help, that the breakup began to loom on the horizon. It seemed inevitable. Bosh’s cryptic tweets further concerned fans. After eight years, the love had dimmed. Bosh was nearing his thirties, with nothing to show for it but all star appearances and shallow playoff runs. He needed more. He needed to find a spark again.
It’s hard to fault Bosh for what happened next, but it didn’t make it any less heart wrenching. Eight years is a long time to spend with a franchise unless you’re Dirk Nowitzki. Watching a player that was such a big part of the franchise’s growth walk away in free agency angered fans, even if it was more than justified. His choice to join the Miami Heat hurt for a variety of reasons. To leave and go running to the hottest, most skilled, team he could find was insulting. To add salt to the wound, Bosh documented his talks with teams, further frustrating fans.
Chris enjoyed the luxury of being one of several strong players on the Heat, joining the duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He would go on to win multiple titles with the Heat, which is the basketball equivalent to watching your ex get married to the first person they meet after you.
Bosh stuck by Miami when LeBron returned home and quietly stood by them after a trade talk debacle with Wade resulted in a similar homecoming. Despite his skill, Bosh has never truly owned the Superstar mantle and has always felt comfortable being a steady presence on the teams he has played on. As a fan, it is hard to ask for more.
When Bosh was sidelined at the end of the 2014-15 season due to recurring health problems it was almost ironic. For years, the skinny kid from Dallas had went up against bigger, stronger players. He had battled through injuries and sheer physical disadvantage, proving his tenacity against guys like Dwight Howard consistently through his career. To end it quietly, due to a non-related issue like blood clots was hard for Bosh. Miami refused to let him finish the season, citing liability.
So here we find Chris Bosh; he’s still in basketball limbo, waiting to be waived by the Heat. Basketball is no longer an option. He’s 32, supposed to being playing the final years of an illustrious career, and enjoying those perks but instead he is sidelined indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the Raptors have built a team that has collectively brought pride back to Toronto in the wake of his departure. The new Raptors are chippy, hard workers who are known for their backcourt depth.
Even as the Raptors flourish, one has to wonder: what would it have been like if Bosh stayed?
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?
Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.
Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.
Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.
Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting.
These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA:
- 14.6 Points
- 7.6 Assists
- 6.0 Rebounds
- 1.8 Steals
- 0.8 Blocks
- 55.1 FG%
- 41.2 3P%
He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.
Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.
He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.
|2012||Damian Lillard (co-MVPs)||PG||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Josh Selby (co-MVPs)||PG||Memphis Grizzlies|
|2013||Jonas Valančiūnas||C||Toronto Raptors|
|2014||Glen Rice Jr.||SG||Washington Wizards|
|2015||Kyle Anderson||SF||San Antonio Spurs|
|2016||Tyus Jones||PG||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2017||Lonzo Ball||PG||Los Angeles Lakers|
With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.
The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.
Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.
If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 16
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
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