I have followed the Toronto Raptors since their inception, 15 years ago. As a fervent basketball fan (or should I say a basketball junkie) I have longed for the Raptors to have some success during the regular season and postseason. The best we have done so far is 47 wins (twice) and a trip to the second round of the playoffs (once). This does not qualify as success in my books for two reasons. A. it was not sustained and B. it did not result to the team taking steps forward after they posted successful seasons and postseason. A prime example of improvement is the Toronto Blue Jays of the late 80s and early 90s. Not because they won two World Series but because they were able to have winning seasons and continue to improve within a 5 year span where they ended up winning it all twice. Even if you were not a baseball fan you had no choice but jump on the Jays’ bandwagon during that time (I know I did).
I hate to admit this but when Vince Carter was a Raptor anything seemed possible. We were all filled with optimism and hope about this franchise like never before. All this ended with Carter sulking his way out of town and realistically dashing any hopes for postseason glory for the foreseeable future.
Then the MLS brain-trust decided to bank the Franchise’s future on Chris Bosh. He is a great player. Probably the best power forward the Raptors ever had. He has worked hard to improve every year and has contributed to whatever success the Raptors had while he has been with the team.
There are two instances (two seasons) where I felt like the Raptor as a team was heading the right direction; where they showed improvement and felt like great things were in-store for the Franchise.
First was the 99-00 season (second under Butch Carter) where the raptors won 45 games. Second instance was during the 00-01 season (first under Wilkins) where we won 47 games. During these two seasons it felt like the sky was the limit for this team. There was a third winning season (06-07 – third under Mitchell) that even though we won 47 games it did not feel like we deserved to be in the playoffs. The Eastern conference was horrible during that season and the Raptors won the division without any resistance. We ended up losing in the first round against the Nets during that season.
Even though Bosh has become a very, very good player he never had a dominant wing player to help him and this team to the next step. In reality Colangelo wants to give Bosh the max contract starting next season with mediocre team success to show for the last 6 seasons. This is not solely attributed to Bosh but if you are going to give a player max contract money you would expect him to provide sustained success to your franchise (i.e. Wade, Lebron, etc).
The question I would ask myself if I were Colangelo today is:
Is this team heading the right direction and is it going to have sustained success that will one day result to a championship with Bosh as the centerpiece?
I am not Colangelo, but my answer to this question is an emphatic NO.
So then you need to ask the question if it’s time to rebuild around another piece the Raptors have. DeRozan, Bargnani, a future draft pick, someone other than Bosh. Are the others players I mentioned ready to be the Franchise player? Maybe not. But we will not find out until we give them that role; until they are required to take the team on their shoulders and make a difference.
Even though our win-loss % will decrease with removing Bosh in the short term at least we can hope to something great in the future instead of living with the mediocre for the next 5 years.