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Dear Raptors Fans, Please Be Patient

James Park (2L)

 

The 2013-14 season marked a return to relevance for Canada’s basketball team, the Toronto Raptors. The arrival of General Manager, Masai Ujiri, along with the improved play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan led to the Raptors’ first playoff berth since 2008. Although Toronto would go on to lose in 7 against the Brooklyn Nets, the season was a revival on many fronts. The team’s success did not go unnoticed as the #wethenorth campaign engaged the entire nation bringing dormant Raptors fans out of the woodwork.  

Despite lacking the element of complete surprise, no one expected the Raptors to come flying out of the gates as they did to start the 2014-15 season. Toronto’s performance for the first 2 months of the season was nothing short of dominant as they started the year with a 13-2 record and led the Eastern Conference well into the month of December. Unfortunately, the team’s quick start led many Raptors fans to be blinded by reality by a wall of unrealistic and, more importantly, unfair expectations. Twitter, game threads, and forums would reveal hordes of fans pounding their online chests with pride following every win, while becoming extremely defensive following rare losses. Although the warning signs were there from the beginning with the team’s inability to beat Chicago, and multiple losses to Cleveland, reality didn’t set in until the Raptors lost 4 of 6 games on their West-Coast swing, and have only won 4 of their last 10. This reality is, that despite their rapid improvement, the Raptors are not yet true contenders.

This is not to say that the Raptors won’t end the season as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, or potentially in the league. That said, it is important for us fans to remember that building a championship team takes time, and isn’t as simple as having an improved Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

It is understandable that Toronto fans get excited at the sight of a winning team, given that the Jays seem to be a perpetual tease and the Leafs are…well, the Leafs. However, we must not forget that there is a whole spectrum between winning it all and being a terrible team. Building a winning culture, let alone winning the championship is an unpredictable process in which time and patience is necessary, but in no way sufficient in guaranteeing an end result. As much as we would like to believe that the Raptors are on their way to being NBA champions in the near future, a look at recent history serves as a reminder at how difficult this achievement really is: only 6 franchises have won it all in the last 14 seasons. All of this is to say, let’s temper our expectations; get rid of our win-now-or-bust mentality, and enjoy the ride. The Raptors are relevant again, and field a team that has a chance to win on any given night. Let’s celebrate that and see where the season takes us.