Mike: You miss the pain?
Rob: …Yeah. For the same reason you miss her… because you lived with it for so long.
I am in agony. Watching Raptor fans bask in the unfamiliar glow of praise from the basketball world for the team’s miraculous turnaround has shoved me into a cold, dark place. Not because I moved away from Toronto as this dramatic change of fortune began, but because of the success itself: it will end. Badly.
Raptor history has been authored by tragic figures such as Babcock, Araujo, Huffman, Yogi, Master P. And if I conveniently shed these painful memories for flittering recent triumphs, I will be crushed when dark days inevitably return. Only this time, the pain will be compounded by my naiveté for believing the Raptors could outrun their past. I can’t let this happen. I can’t let myself enjoy this. It will kill me.
The recent turnaround orchestrated by Bryan Colangelo itself has been reckless, and done with complete disregard for the health of longstanding fans. It is irresponsible for any GM to endanger its supporters by forcing them to adjust their expectations so suddenly and completely, particularly a group that is accustomed to praying to avoid embarrassment, rather than cheering for victory. As the Raptors rapidly ascended the Atlantic Division this season, and my pre-game thoughts shifted rapidly from “please keep him under 80 points” to “they should win this”, I suffered a personal version of the bends.
I now follow the path prescribed by 19th philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and accept that life as a Raptor fan is absurd and doomed. I refuse to take a leap of faith otherwise. As co-author of the 50 Dubious Raptor Moments, I know this only too well. So when an interviewer from Slam Magazine asked if I would take back 27 of these Dubious Moments to make the Raptors a better team, I enlightened the scribe that I have 27 others ready to take their place; dubiousity is part of Raptor DNA. Or maybe, after 12 painful years as a Raptor fan, it is part of my mine.