By Gagan Gandhi
The Raptors have put their worst stretch in 2007 behind them. They had lost four of five before pulling off three straight wins at the expense of the Memphis Grizzlies, Seattle Supersonics and Milwaukee Bucks. While it’s true that the trio of teams they beat are not the best teams in the NBA, nor are they the teams in the middle of the pack, they are wins that are a must to have for any team that aspires to be a champion or even a playoff team.
The Raptors still have their weaknesses, but that can be said about almost every team in the association; to think those weaknesses will suddenly go away with under 20 games left in the season is foolish. These are problems and tendencies that will have to be addressed during the off-season, however the Raptors are a young team and you would have to imagine that there will be improvement in areas such as rebounding.
One thing the Raptors do not lack is team spirit as they are a team in every sense of the word. That seems like a simple statement to make and one may argue that the NBA does consist of 30 teams. Sure, that is true technically, but not all teams play as one as the Raptors do. It is one of the many reasons the city has come to adore them so much this season. A perfect example of this was during the final moments of the Raptors last game in Milwaukee. Andrew Bogut, former first overall pick and member of the Bucks, was called for a flagrant foul on Chris Bosh, who was trying to go in for a lay-up. After the play TJ Ford stepped in for his teammate and started mouthing off to Bogut and the Bucks bench. He had his teammate’s back and it is something that we don’t see nearly enough of in today’s game. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bucks looked lackluster and disinterested all game long. Their body language was awful and their in-game communication was mediocre at best.
Showing respect for your teammates and the name on the front of your jersey starts with your leaders – and that is what Chris Bosh is and TJ Ford is maturing into. It seem as if it was just yesterday that Bryan Colangelo was announced as the new President and General Manager of this once sad franchise (although I wouldn’t admit it at the time). He brings smartness, poise and guts.
More importantly however, he brings a winning attitude, and with that comes respectability.