Admittedly, basketball’s not my favourite sport, but I’m hardly ignorant of its existence. As a matter of fact, I was one of those weird kids that played basketball instead of hockey when I was growing up. (Saved my parents a ton of money on equipment!) Last season, I tried to keep tabs on the Toronto (C)Raptors, mostly during commercials/intermissions of whatever football or hockey game I was watching, but it got to the point where I just couldn’t be bothered, since I knew they were gonna lose anyways. The only game I went to last year was when the Phoenix Suns were in town to A) See Steve Nash in the flesh and B) Boo Vince Carter. Suffice to say that the Suns still won, though I can’t even remember the final score.
Sure, there was some excitement when Vince was in town, and the team was headed to the playoffs–I’ll admit, I even bought his jersey–but lately, the Craptors have been prime practitioners of bad basketball. Without Chris Bosh anymore, the team will be relying on a handful of young players, none of whom have shown they can play defence, and it doesn’t look pretty. (Mind you, Bosh didn’t D up much either when he wore a Raptor uni…) In fact, in a recent Toronto Star poll (scroll down for it), 82 per cent of respondents had the Raps winning less than 30 games this year, with 27 per cent pegging their win total at 10 or less. Even with the lockout knocking 15 games off the calendar, Toronto’s still gonna be in for a long season.
Mind you, after they announced the end of the lockout earlier this month, it took me a good two weeks just to remember the names of Toronto’s starting five. This made me realize that not having the NBA from Halloween through Christmas wasn’t such a huge loss. Somehow, a league of overpaid multimillionaires with a salary cap that’s soft like Charmin playing a large slate of high-scoring games where points don’t mean much–and most games don’t really matter till you get to the playoffs–has made such a small impact on me that I didn’t even notice it was gone. Hey, wake me when it’s April, alright?
That’s not to say I haven’t been watching basketball though, having caught all but a couple of Gonzaga’s first nine games. Although Toronto has been Canada’s Team by default since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis (why they never changed that team’s name is beyond me!), the Gonzaga Bulldogs, with two key starters from north of the border, have a lot more Canuckian hoops cred than a team that’ll be bringing Jamaal Magloire off the bench for the first time this year. Unlike the NBA playoffs, which resemble the clutch-and-grab postseason play of the pre-lockout NHL, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is one of the most exciting events in sports, with its fast-paced, frenetic, one-and-done format–and I fully expect the Zags to make their 12th straight appearance come March. As for the Raptors chances? Well, I think I’ll leave that one to Jim Mora…