Last year’s baseball season showed us that the Toronto Blue Jays – more than any other MLB team – own Vancouver.
But what about basketball?
With the news that BC Place is considering outdoor viewings of Raptors playoff games, it got me thinking.
The Raptors won their first playoff series in 15 years on Sunday. Last night they lost their first game of the second round in an overtime thriller. But do people in Vancouver care? I think they care more than they used to.
I consider myself a pretty typical Vancouver basketball fan.
Prior to the arrival of the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995, I was a Seattle Sonics fan. My allegiances switched with the arrival of Shareef, Big Country, and the rest, though I pulled for Seattle when they played Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 Final.
After Vancouver lost the Grizzlies in 2001, I turned my back on the NBA for a while. How could you not, after the way they left this city?
By the time I got back into the NBA, the Sonics were lifted from Seattle, so I cheered for the Phoenix Suns because of Victoria’s Steve Nash.
Nash retired in 2014 and I was left without a team.
Like many in Vancouver, I’ve adopted a team I never thought I would cheer for: the Toronto Raptors.
Growing up, I hated the Raptors. I hated Damon Stoudamire, I hated Vince Carter. I wasn’t crazy about the colour purple either. I was a Grizzlies fan and I was not keen on seeing them get showed up by their expansion cousins.
But now? I guess I’m starting to buy in.
The Raptors have been very deliberate in an attempt to become a national brand, like the Blue Jays. We The North has been a smash hit, and playing preseason games in cities across the country has helped too.
— Cabbie Richards (@Cabbie) April 29, 2016
Personally, I got on board when their mild mannered, Nigerian-born general manager Masai Ujiri yelled “F*ck Brooklyn!” to a crowd before their series with the Nets in 2014. I mean, how can you not get on board with that?
Still, the Raptors have a long way to go before they become the Blue Jays of basketball. Playing in a sport that goes head-to-head with the NHL makes things more challenging, but over time I don’t see why the Raptors can’t get close to that sort of level…
At least until we get our own team back.