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The Toronto Raptors – In Mexico

RR is filled to the brim with talented writers and analysts. Some of which get credentialed, and go to games. Guys like Louis Zatzman, Vivek Jacob, Andrew Damelin and of course RR editor emeritus, Blake Murphy. These fellas are terrific at their craft, and can add so much to their stories with their exposure to the team and players.

I’m one of the RR guys who isn’t located in Toronto – one day hopefully – and I’m wondering how I can use my location to help entertain all of you: the readers. As I’m located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I thought it might be fun to tell you guys what the people here think of the Raptors.

Even though basketball isn’t as popular here as baseball, and soccer (futbol, if you prefer), there’s a healthy group of NBA fans. I’ll give you the Raptors-adjace takes of the guys I hoop with below, and hopefully we’ll have some fun.

Before we start, the rules for basketball are a bit different down here. When you’re playing pickup, all 3-pointers are worth one, same as any other shot. Even worse, they only require you to clear the ball out of the paint, so if you do shoot from outside you’re in a terrible position to defend after the ball switches possession. They’ve phased the 3-pointer out of everybody’s game down here, and the answers they give are somewhat reflective of that.

The guys gave me 15-20 minutes, and a big shoutout to them.

*My Spanish isn’t terrific, I really leaned on how well these guys speak English. That being said, there’s a couple things that don’t translate perfectly.

First up is Cepi, he’s a young big-man.

Samson Folk: The Raptors are first place in the league, Kawhi is getting better. Can they win the finals?

Cepi: The Raptors can never win with Lowry. He’s too small, he shoots too much. 

Folk: What point guard do you think could give the Raptors a championship?

Cepi: Kyrie, he can score against anyone. And he plays good in the playoffs.

Folk: So, you think Kyrie is much better than Lowry?

Cepi: Everybody thinks this. Kyrie has the Mamba style, and he’s good at the rim. He has style, man. 

Folk: What do you like about the Raptors this year then? If you don’t like Lowry?

Cepi: I can’t think of his name. The fast one, he’s always fast. He can spin and finish well.

Folk: Pascal Siakam?

Cepi: Yes. He’s like McGrady at the rim. He can spin around everyone and he doesn’t miss.

Folk: And who’s your favourite Raptor?

Cepi: Ibaka. He speaks Spanish you know? He blocks everyone at the rim. 

Next one up is Tigre. I don’t know his real name, all I know is that he gets called ‘Tigre’. He’s a really quick young gun.

Folk: What’s the worst thing the Raptors do?

Tigre: Need more big guys. Too small all the time. The big white guy is good, and Ibaka. They should play them together, they’d defend better.

Folk: If they played their big guys more, they’d be better?

Tigre: Yes, Cabron. Look at us here, the big guys are always winning on the court. They do that, and they’ll win. You can’t stop big guys with small guys. 

Folk: You guys don’t shoot threes here, that matters right?

Tigre: It’s so far away. The Raptors big guys don’t miss the shots. Small guys are always missing from too far away.

Folk: What can Lowry and the guards do to make you like them?

Tigre: (laughing) Make the shots the same as the big guys. And cut more, too much standing around all the time. I like the cutters, like D-Wade.

Anthony is one of the only shooters in this place, and an actual Raptors fan. Via NBAstreams on Reddit.

Folk: How do the Raptors win it all this year?

Anthony: (Big smile) The 3 is the key. Like the guy says (Assuming Devlin). Kawhi is gonna do it, and OG is little Kawhi. They’re gonna win us the championship.

Folk: You think OG can be that good?

Anthony: OG is like a bull. He’s too strong to stop. Once he dribbles better, he’ll do whatever he wants. 

Folk: How long until OG gets there?

Anthony: In 3 years teams won’t remember who Kawhi and OG are. They will be each-other, and the Raptors will win. Lowry will teach him to shoot.

Folk: And what’s your take on Siakam then?

Anthony: Siakam is like wind. You swing and try to stop him, but he goes through you. He’s gonna win a dunk contest some day, and change his number to #15 for Vince. 

Folk: Do you think Vince will ever come back to the Raptors?

Anthony: Of course. He wants to, and he said so. 

Juan is another big guy. He always wears a Kobe jersey.

Folk: What are the NBA Finals gonna be?

Juan: Lakers vs. Celtics. LeBron vs. Kyrie.

Folk: No Warriors? No Raptors?

Juan: Warriors are over. Unless Boogie is healthy, then maybe. Raptors will never win anything. *points to jersey* Raptors are losers, always. 

Folk: 81 points?

Juan: They will never recover from that. Kobe put a curse on them.

Folk: Any way the Raptors can get to the Finals?

Juan: If they had DeRozan and Kawhi. Then they would win it all.

Folk: Not a Lowry fan?

Juan: He can shoot good. He’s too small. DeRozan is like Kobe, Lowry is like Fisher. Kobe is way more important than Fisher.

Jerry, a guard who says he watches: “All NBA, so many games.” thinks the Raptors are winning it all.

Folk: Why the Raptors, why this year?

Jerry: The Warriors hate each-other. KD is a serpent you know, like a snake. Curry will bring them far, but KD will ruin them. The Raptors like each-other. They do TV shows together, like Ibaka. They all hangout. This is important, you know? They will make the right pass because they have trust. Kawhi will defend KD.

Folk: And how will the Lowry-Curry matchup go?

Jerry: These guys say Lowry is bad, but they don’t know. Lowry will shoot like Curry but defend better. 

Folk: Who’s the Raptors biggest rival in the East?

Jerry: The Bucks. Lopez shoots like fuga (leakage/wet), and the Greek Freak is young LeBron but taller. You only slow this guy. He is not stopped, but you can slow him and win. The Raptors will slow him, and Kawhi will score the other way. 

Folk: Who’s the best young player on the Raptors?

Jerry: Like Anthony says, OG. He’s small Kawhi and some day he will be like him. He will become a star that can’t be stopped. 

A major takeaway has to be that NBA fandom is relatively similar here to Canada and the U.S. Kyle Lowry remains one of the most underrated players league-wide. Somehow the wider NBA fandom has convinced itself that the Raptors playoff problems begin and end with Lowry, which really does vex me. A couple mentions of Siakam speaks volumes to how far he’s come. The OG love is really nice to hear, as I’m sure we’re all very invested in our son.

If any of the commentary comes off as rudimentary, chalk it up to the language barrier, and that’s on me. These guys are wonderful, and are so much better at my native language than I am theirs. Big thanks to the pick-up ball family, and I sincerely hoped you guys enjoyed hearing some opinions from a different place.

Have a blessed day.

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