It comes as very little surprise, COVID-19 being what it is, that the Toronto Raptors have found it necessary to find a home south of the US/Canada border at least to begin the 2020-21 season.
A statement from our president Masai Ujiri. pic.twitter.com/qrnPt5MEsA— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 20, 2020
I’m not gonna lie to you, even as a Raptors fan who doesn’t get to a lot of Raptors home games, the necessity of this hurts my heart a little bit. The Raptors have an exceptional home-country fanbase and we’ll be sad that they don’t get to play in Scotiabank Arena. That said, I’m confident most Raptors fans will tell you that we understand and fully support the move. There are some implications to be broken down though.
Going into the NBA Bubble in Orlando to complete the 2019-20 season, home court advantage (or the lack thereof) was a big topic for conversation. At least in that instance, every team was dealing with the same situation. It stands to reason that the Toronto Raptors organization will bring as much as possible to make their home away from home as familiar as possible for the duration of their stay. Not being able to have hometown fans in attendance though? That’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially since the other 28 teams could presumably have their hometown crowds in attendance. This is of course assuming that fans are admitted to games. The NBA has made it clear that this is their goal.
I can only hope that the residents of Tampa embrace their temporary NBA team with some excitement. I have one mutual on Raptors Twitter who I think will be at least a little pumped. He goes by Raptors Florida Fanatic. That said, I’m not expecting to see many adopted Raptors fans when we’re hosting the Miami Heat or the Orlando Magic if I’m being honest. I hope against teams who make their homes outside of Florida, though they’ll have a decent amount of support. Perhaps the Raptors organization will use a few tricks out of the NBA’s bubble playbook to bring some virtual fans to their games.
Danny Green’s 2019-20 Championship Ring
Danny Green had no qualms about expressing how much he enjoyed his time in Canada. Even though his three-point shot seemed to go on vacation early during the Raptors playoff run, the fanbase loved him in return. I’m not ashamed to admit having a mad crush on him for the duration of the season. I can’t crush on a Laker though so it was short-lived Sorry, not sorry.
Because of this reciprocal affection, Danny Green opted to wait to receive his championship ring after COVID-19 changed how the 2019-20 season ended. He would have received it when the Lakers visited Toronto in March of 2020. Rather than receive it in the bubble, he decided he would wait until he could get his ring in front of the fans who welcomed and embraced him. As a member of the Toronto Raptors’ first ever championship team, Green will always hold a soft spot in the hearts of Raptors fans. The fact that he wanted to get his ring in front of the fans added another level of endearment. The question now is, will he continue to wait if the schedule has the Raptors hosting the Lakers before they are able to return to playing in Toronto?
Vince Carter Tribute
Vince Carter may go down in NBA history as the player with the most clout league-wide who retired with the absolute least fanfare. One more casualty to lay at the feet of the global pandemic that has changed so many normalities in our lives.
Raptors fans would have loved the opportunity to give Carter the send-off he deserved. He’s an absolutely iconic part of Raptors history and many fans want to see his number hung from the rafters. I mean, not me but many. Since no one knew that the last time he was in Toronto would be the last time, the fanbase didn’t get the opportunity to bid him a fond farewell. Carter would have played his last game in Toronto on April 10, 2020. It would have been the fourth to last game of his career. Now, I wonder if the epic and much-deserved tribute video will be played during a game while the Raptors are Tampa Bay residents or whether they’ll wait to do it in the building that was instrumental in giving him the moniker “Air Canada”. It just feels kind of… wrong… somehow that it should happen any place else, doesn’t it?
Friendly Tax Laws
Listen, we pay a crap ton of taxes in Ontario. Much higher than most of the rest of the country. Certainly a lot higher than the 0% personal income taxes in Florida. Raptors players and staff who go to Florida for the beginning of the season will have a takehome number significantly higher than if they were playing in the 6ix. I can’t imagine anyone will be complaining about that.