TORONTO,ON–Miami won a close game 103-95, but this game was not about the score…
It was a game that many Raptors’ fans had circled on their calendars. In a year of many lows, many losses, and much disappointment, the Raptors’ faithful had a chance to release their frustrations. These frustrations were directed at one man, that man, of course was Chris Bosh.
The ex-Raptor entered the ACC like he had done so many times before, but something was different. He entered from the visiting team’s bus, walked into the visitor’s locker-room, and walked onto the court to a chorus of boos.
Bosh and the Heat made their first visit to Toronto this season and you better believe the ACC was packed to the rafters ready to boo the Raptors’ ex star player every time he touched the ball. Booing, however, was not enough. Fans voiced their displeasure of Bosh’s departure by chanting “CB sucks,” “Over-rated,” and the Shaquille O’Neal inspired “RuPaul,” early in the first quarter.
But Bosh ended up getting the best of the Raptors. He played a game that many Raptors fans would find extremely familiar. Bosh finished the game with 25 points and six rebounds from 7-16 shooting.
In typical Bosh fashion, he made it to the free throw line, hitting 11 of 12. Unfazed by the visible displeasure of the fans, he was unspectacular, but effective and did what he needed to do to help Miami win the game. He drew the foul just about every time he put the ball on the floor and played well in spite of the jeering.
Dwayne Wade contributed to the cause with 28 points while Lebron added 23. But it was almost like the Heat decided that this was going to be Bosh’s night, a chance to show up the Raptors’ fans, and that’s exactly what he did.
The game was close throughout, especially in the fourth thanks to a heroic 17 points by Bargnani. Bargs finished with 38 points on 15-26 shooting, helping bring the game to within four points on a few occasions. The Raptors played with a lot of heart, while Miami, clearly gassed from playing the second game of a back to back, were not very sharp, turning the ball over 17 times.
In what was again a two-pronged attack, Demar Derozan was the only other offensive spark not named Bargnani.
Demar scored 24 points from 9-20 shooting. The Raptors struggled from the field for most of the game. The suspects included Calderon and his 2-9 shooting, (although he had 14 assists) and Amir Johnson’s 2-10. Johnson was able to contribute 11 boards, while Ed Davis scored eight while grabbing 13 boards.
Yet, this game was not about the stats, or even the score; not many expected the Raptors to win. This game was about Chris Bosh, and about the fans who wanted/needed to release their emotions. It has been a disappointing season and it will probably continue to be one, but there’s no point looking back in anger.
Bosh will live on as a villain in Toronto sports folklore, especially after he embraced the role by mocking the remaining fans, blowing kisses after the game. As fun as it is to boo and think of creatively insulting chants, Toronto fans need not be consumed with this.
The Raptors young core, plus a potential top 5-draft pick are reasons for optimism. The team needs support from the fans, and there will be a day when this team is contending for the playoffs again.
But to get back to the present, Toronto enters All-Star Weekend with a 15-41 record. Although there are no All-Stars on the squad, Demar Derozan will be participating in the slam-dunk contest and the rookie-sophomore game.
In addition, arguably one of the best dunkers in the world, Canadian Justin Darlington will also be making the flight to tinsel town. Stay tuned for NPH All-Star coverage and be sure to visit tomorrow for a feature on Bosh vs. Carter.
Who is the bigger villain in Raptor Land?
Photo courtesy: NBA.com