NBA executives are hoping for a mid-June return to basketball. For the Toronto Raptors, that would mean a little slice of history.
For all the wrong reasons, the world is facing unprecedented times. Life as we know it is currently at a standstill as world leaders look for a solution to COVID-19. Businesses are closing and sports have been suspended. For the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the NBA, that means the season is currently in jeopardy.
Right now, basketball is secondary to everything going on, but sports still provide an outlet for joy. Without it, there is a huge hole to fill in our lives. The NBA suspended the season on Wednesday, March 12 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus in the build-up to the Utah Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The season was initially suspended for 30 days, but the prospect of basketball starting around that time seems highly optimistic. In short, don’t expect basketball to kickstart at the start of April. The situation has escalated and, if we’re being honest, a timeline seems increasingly hard to predict – not that we would consider doing so. It’s best to leave it to the experts.
For now, the best-case scenario seems to be a mid-to-late June return to play in empty arenas, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’ll be some time before we get to see basketball played once more, and even longer to see it in person if the assumptions are true. That’s a solid three months away – and with the situation ever-changing, who knows if this will even be the case.
If it is, though, and the season does go ahead as planned, it’s likely we’ll either jump straight to the playoffs or finish the regular season and extend the season. Both ideas have been floated about recently, and both would leave the Toronto Raptors holding onto a little slice of history.
The past few seasons have been historic for the only Canadian franchise in the NBA. They’ve made the playoffs six years in a row and were already set to make another run in the postseason in 2020; they’ve won 50-plus games in the past four years and won their first-ever title last season.
The Raptors have been the NBA’s model of consistency in the place of the faltering San Antonio Spurs this season even when the majority of their roster has dealt with significant injuries. No matter who has been on the court for the Raptors – they have had success.
That should be the case for reigning champions. They should be successful and challenging again, but the Raptors found themselves in completely different circumstances compared to other past champions. They lost their star player immediately.
Accordingly, this season has put the Raptors in a completely surreal scenario – just like it has with every team. However, the Raptors will be making history unlike any other once – IF – the NBA season restarts. They might not retain their crown, but any return to action will see the Raptors become the longest-reigning single-season champions in NBA history with a reign that will clock in at well over a year.
The Raptors were crowned NBA champions on June 14, 2019, and a timeline for a return to the 2019-20 NBA season is unclear, although it won’t be back any time soon.
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It’s hard to look at the bright side at the moment, and as suggested, basketball should take a backseat to life right now. If you want to smile, though, just remember that the Raptors are likely going to create history once more.