After watching the happy-go-lucky manner in which the Raptors greeted their elimination from the playoffs on the final night of the regular season – all but having a sing-along and spraying champagne around the locker room – it is impossible to argue with James. But it's one thing when a corn-fed, white, middle-aged, overweight sportswriter can say he's never seen a team accept choking so readily, and quite another when a guy whose opinion holds sway muses about it, especially after an opinion column in the Toronto Star suggests the Raptors partied their way out of the playoffs, a charge that has not been sufficiently riposted.
It speaks of a group of athletes with a remarkable lack of self-respect and a management team that for some reason let it go unchecked. Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou used to worry about his team being perceived as a “small team” – small not in stature or even within the game's economy but small in the sense of getting the 50-50 calls to go their way during a game. There's no zone rating or statistical measure for that. But there are teams that leave that type of an impression, and this year's Raptors were like that.
Know what? It was kind of cool in a Canadian inferiority complex sort of way when Toronto received some love as a destination for NBA players' high-end parties, like millionaire American athletes letting their hair down is a mark of a city's cultural importance. But what good is it if Toronto is a good place to play off the court only? The NBA is a social club, and if you are prepared to buy the management line that his peers could get Bosh to shut it down over champagne during the all-star break, it also stands to reason that James's remarkable candour about the Raptors wasn't a revelation to those same members of Murmurer's Row who were in Bosh's ear. Turns out the Raptors can fool sportswriters, fans and maybe even management. But not their peers.