Toronto’s championship win in 2019 was an easy place to start, but the pure elation of that moment personally transcended tears. So I was on to the next possibility. Kobe died and I cried, but I had already dug into that particular wound and thought it wise to keep it relatively closed for now.
And that was kind of it. Very early on in my internal sad-scan, my reservoir was bone-dry. With that, I shifted to pondering on what Raptors moments could possibly elicit future tears. Vince’s missed shot? Alonzo Mourning not reporting after Vince forced his way out of town? Bosh leaving because of his cable package? T.J. Ford’s back injury? The grim end to Jorge Garbajosa’s NBA career? Sure, these were all significant moments in my Raptors fandom that I’m sure have brought someone to tears, but it still didn’t feel close to hitting on this nagging feeling that there had to be something in the Raptorsphere that had the power to bring me to tears.
Maybe I was thinking about it all wrong. Was there something so bizarre, so maddeningly frustrating, so all-encompassing to the Raptors fan-experience that I just wasn’t seeing it as a trigger for waterworks? It took a re-read of my piece last week about the underdog 2009-10 Raptors and Hedo Turkoglu’s infuriating tenure as Raptor for it all to finally come into frame. I ask you: has there ever been a more ridiculous, ludicrous moment in Raptors lore than Hedo’s bravely honest Pizza Pizza commercial?
Think about it and then prepare. Because I’m here to tell you that of course there is.
At first glance (if this is your first glance, bless you), this might not seem like a commercial that could lead one to tears. While that’s understandable, here’s some quick-hit context as to why it might be the perfect candidate for retroactive tears.
- For starters, this commercial is objectively not very good. Robert Bartley does his best to instruct the viewing public of Andrea’s healthy lifestyle due to eating Primo (sure) and Andrea does his best to look mildly interested in on-camera shooting drills that see him lift no more than two inches on his jumpshot.
- The Toronto Raptors were capital B-A-D when this commercial first aired and they continued to be for the subsequent years that this commercial assaulted Raptors fans’ eyes.
- You could bet your last dollar that you would see this commercial at a minimum of ten times per game.
- Andrea Bargnani’s pronunciation of sauce is an abomination. As an Italian, I do not endorse it in the slightest.
- There is nothing wrong with the theme song or his smiling head-nod at the end, but even fine things can be terrible when placed in a terrible context like this.
- Finally, everything Italian that Primo touches is not good.
So, is it lock for tears well over ten years later?
Well, to truly get there you had to be watching the mid-2000 Raptors, who were bad, and then, when the Raptors stopped being bad on your television set, you had to watch Andrea Bargnani, who you likely just finished watching being bad, be bad in a commercial for bad pasta and bad sauce and pronounce the word sauce like he had shot the word sauce and wanted to disgrace it by being in a bad commercial about bad sauce on purpose.
And to drill those tear ducts even harder, you had to watch this commercial over and over and over again for years! If that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then I envy you, sweet reader.