May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) comes off the court after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Brooklyn defeated Toronto 104-103. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors: An Infant Summer Gone Right

Oh my, what a crying shame it is that I’ve been away from the fiery commentary business this past month. Sometimes a basketball fan, and an equally strong conjecture fan, just needs an outlet.

I’m thrilled to be back spouting from the rooftop.

There was an NBA Finals that made everyone outside Florida smile with delight at the thought of not only stifling any nauseating three-or-more-peat talk, but also the thought of the NBA hierarchy being turned upside down at the slightly increased chance at LeBron James turning another franchise into a potential dynasty.

Then there was the draft, where the Toronto Raptors decided that, if they couldn’t secure a Canadian connection in Tyler Ennis, well, they were going to throw a bunch of international “upside” players in a hat and pick one. Their guy, Bruno Caboclo, sent shock waves throughout draft rooms and among analysts.

One, who bluntly described Caboclo as “two years away from being two years away,” seemed to be in shock about the pick. With a timeline like that, Caboclo had better be at least a poor man’s Manu Ginobili.

I hope he plays this year, though. Even minute flashes of Giannis Antetokounmpo would give the Raptors coaches and fans hope that he may be a worthwhile pick, even with more established players on the board, albeit not Canadian ones.

Then there was free agency, where Kyle Lowry could say all the right things about Toronto and the direction of the franchise, but the lure of the Heat, and they put on a full court press by all accounts, had me doubting his sincerity. Something tells me that when LeBron James makes a pitch, there is no way a player of reasonable mind could say no.

The Shabazz Napier thing is all I needed to see. The Heat never saw him work out in person.

It was hardly an organizational decision; Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra could have hated him for all we know. Once LeBron lobbied, it was over. I figured it would be the same thing with Lowry.

His status as “the true missing piece” and the reason that LeBron decided to remain in Miami would have garnered Lowry a sort-of “savior-ish” status and could have been the lynchpin to three or four more championships.

What, was a possible bandwagon fever pitch going to compete with that kind of pull? Apparently, yes.

And I’m delighted.

It’s not even about a “score one for the good guys” thing or a cute little story that a Canadian team was able to grossly overpay one of their players to stay because they didn’t. It’s not even about Lowry spurning the Heat, even though I’d be fooling myself to claim that it wasn’t just a little sweeter.

Just a little.

It’s more about the question being answered. That overhanging, pervasive question about status and contending and whether, no matter all the moves you make or good vibrations you feel, that in the end the culture of winning and culture of the NBA suggests that it just can’t happen for a team like the Toronto Raptors.

This Kyle Lowry thing was going to be a barometer from which optimism was either going to spawn or not. It was about the potential to thrive or merely exist.

I’ll be honest: I had severely tempered my expectations before the playoffs even began. Toronto was where Lowry became a legitimate cornerstone.

But was it a destination? Was it a stepping stone or a mark on the resume where he could proclaim that he led a downtrodden franchise to a playoff berth and re-energized everything about the atmosphere?

Probably, but what was best for his family and his career was (fill in blank, not Toronto). Miami gave him the perfect spot; few would have questioned or blamed him.

I’ve got the rest of the summer to address numbers or draft picks or signings in detail. Right now it’s just time to revel in a big move gone right.

Well done, sir. And well done Toronto.

Your gaze can officially tilt upward.

Tags: Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors

comments powered by Disqus