What a time to be a Raptors fan!
As we prepare our Thanksgiving feasts, now is a better time than any to show gratitude. Two years ago, I wrote a similar post giving thanks to various Raptors. If you’ll remember, Toronto would go on to win the franchise’s first championship. I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post last year and the Raptors failed to successfully defend their championship. I apologize for everything that’s happened in 2020 and promise to make things right!
Last time, the focus of appreciation was on Raptor body parts. This time, we’re keeping it simple and highlighting moments. Despite all that’s happened in this forgettable year, the Raptors produced a plethora of memorable moments worthy of some gratitude.
Kyle Lowry Over Every All-Star
Thank you, Kyle Lowry, for reminding everyone that, as long as he’s on a court, he will always compete to win. It could be in his basement on a Nerf net against Karter and Kameron, at the YMCA playing against 40-year-old has-beens, or in the All-Star game with zero stakes.
The Future Is Now
Thank you, Terence Davis, for giving Raptors fans a glimpse into the future. After surprising in the Summer League and in pre-season, TD had several memorable moments and games throughout his rooke campaign. How fitting that his highlight of the year came in Golden State. The Raptors really closed out Oracle Arena with four wins last season, only to come into the new Arena and remind Warrior fans who the defending champs are!
No, Really, The Future is NOW
Thank you, Pascal Siakam, for somehow continuing his meteoric growth — this time from supporting actor to lead role. It can’t be understated how unique his trajectory has been.
- Year 1: Relative unknown who would win the D-League Finals MVP after leading the Raptors 905 to a championship
- Year 2: Leader of the bench mob that helped Toronto win a franchise record 59 wins
- Year 3: Most Improved Player and second leading scorer for the Champions
- Year 4: First time All-Star and All-NBA Second Team selection
It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but in his fourth season, Michael Jordan had played almost half as many playoff games (25) as Siakam (47). By age, Pascal also has a 3-year head start on Michael for championships. Suffice to say, becoming the number one option for a championship contender takes time. It was incredibly motivating to witness when Siakam would show that mentality on-court.
Agent of Chaos
Thank you, Chris Boucher, for two seasons of non-stop hustle. Whether or not the unrestricted free agent re-signs with the team, he will forever be part of the greatest comeback in franchise history. Down 30 in the final moments of the third quarter — on the front-end of a back-to-back — against the Mavericks, Slimm Duck anchored Nick Nurse’s diamond press to perfection. He blocked 3-pointers, prevented outlet passes, and, most notably, scored the game-winning bucket (and insurance free throws to boot).
Marc Gasol a.k.a. Brawn Stockton
Utah’s legendary point guard, John Stockton, was known for piling up assists and steals throughout his Hall of Fame career. Who knew it would only take 105 career games (playoffs included) in a Raptors uniform for the Big Spain to achieve the same cult status in Toronto.
Thank you, Marc Gasol, for helping the offense set sail with ridiculous passing and anchoring the defense with other-worldly IQ.
The (Regular Season) Bubble Hero
If you asked me pre-Bubble if Stanley Johnson would make my Thanksgiving post, I’d probably still be laughing at you. Yet, here we are. Thank you, Stanley Johnson, for being the bubble hero we deserved, but not the one it needed at the moment.
The (Real) Bubble Hero
Thank you, OG Anunoby, for supplying the highlight of the bubble/season/decade. It’s early but the Raptors own the buzzer-beater of the ‘10’s and ‘20’s!
Whoever it is you’re grateful for, and whatever the reason, 2020 has shown us that time is fragile. You don’t need a national holiday to remind you to show gratitude to the people and things you love. The Raptors may no longer be the defending world champions, but last season’s roster offered plenty of reasons to be thankful!