Raptors fans have had to suffer a lot of humiliation over the last few years: There was the Vince Carter trade debacle, there was the night that Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points, and there was the 1-15 start last season that had ESPN speculating that the Raptors might be one of the worst teams in NBA history. But, the absolute low-point for the franchise came on the afternoon of October 16, 2005 in a pre-season exhibition game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Euroleague Champions. Tel Aviv’s Anthony Parker (who is now a Raptor) nailed a last-second jump shot to down the Raps 105-103. It is the only time that an international squad has ever beaten an NBA team on North American soil.
The embarrassment was such that Stephen Colbert had no choice but to make mention of it during the Threat Down on his very first show. The Raptors have been “On Notice” ever since, one short slide away from being “Dead to Him.”
Well, it’s a year and a half later, and the Raptors have undergone an incredible transformation. Only four players remain from the squad that lost to Tel Aviv. Management has been overhauled. And now, with Friday night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the Raptors are over .500 for the first time in three years. They currently sit atop the Atlantic Division, two games ahead of Vince Carter’s despised New Jersey Nets.
January was one of the best months in Raptors history: The team went 10-5, Chris Bosh was voted onto the All-Star team, and Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa were named to the NBA’s All-Star Rookie squad. When the NBA’s monthly awards were announced, the Raptors made an unprecedented sweep. Andrea Bargnani was named Rookie of the Month, Sam Mitchell was named Coach of the Month and Chris Bosh was named Player of the Month. No team in NBA history has ever taken all three of those awards in the same month before. Topping it all off was the most memorable moment of the month: Chris Bosh’s incredible 56-foot heave in the third quarter of last Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Raptors fans can finally hold their heads high again. So, it’s time to let Stephen Colbert know how effective he has been and thank him for putting the Raptors on the road to recovery. Please drop by Colbert Nation and send a letter like this to Colbert HQ. (feel free to copy and paste!)
Dear Mr. Colbert,
As a proud Raptor fan and an even prouder member of Colbert Nation, I just wanted to thank you for the part you’ve played in helping to turn around our NBA franchise. The Toronto Raptors have served the longest tenure of anyone on your “On Notice” Board, but they’ve finally learned their lesson. Not only are the Raptors above .500, they are in first place in the Atlantic Division and in January they swept the NBA awards for Coach, Player, and Rookie of the month: that’s the first time any NBA team has ever taken all three of those awards in the same month.
So, thank you Mr. Colbert: YOU DID IT!!
Putting the Raptors On Notice was just the kick in the pants they needed. Mission Accomplished. Now it’s time for them to come down off the big board. This will create an opening, of course, so may we recommend The Toronto Maple Leafs for the vacancy? They are in serious need of your help. Despite a three-game win streak, the Leafs are in danger of missing the playoffs again and a little Colbert butt-kicking might be just the thing they need to get them going.
[your name here]