I can’t help thinking back to a couple of years ago when I went down to the Raptors’ open practice for my first look at our new team. I only stayed for about 20 minutes. I was despondent. These guys didn’t look at all like a team I could love. Vince Carter had lost his jump and Mo Pete was the only other guy that looked right in the uniform. As the long season wore on it was painfully obvious that my instincts were right on and this team sucked.
Well, it’s 2006 and there is new hope in Hogtown. Bryan Coangelo came into town with a broom and cleaned house. Some moves were bold and some were done out of nescessity but none drew criticism. Most pundents agree that this year’s model could be the shiniest in years.
I headed downtown to the ACC with Mason a couple of weeks ago for the open practice and saw 15 players chumming around like best friends in the school yard. When I watch the highlights on TV of the team’s 7 victories in 8 preseason games I see an exciting spark. These guys look like a Tier One college team that’s ready to take on the NCAA tournament. I don’t mean that they don’t look like they can play at the NBA level. Quite the contrary. But add to their natural skills a sense that these guys are going to go to war for each other every night as though they had played together for the past four years and have come to the Final Four to cap their glory.
We all know the simple elegance and brilliance of Bosh but we will soon have the names Garbajosa, Bargnani and Calderon flowing off our tongues as easily as Ford, Jones and Tucker (players, not lawyers). Call them the 15 Muskateers, for that is what they are and I, for one, am looking forward to the second team swooping off the bench to save victories in distress.
Tonight is game one. Squeak, squeak, swish. Basketball is here to save us from the silly season.