Nominated for: making even bad games better fun.
Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 2 p.m. on January 1. At 4 p.m. we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.
The year 2013 was not, all things considered, a particularly good year for the Toronto Raptors. Of course, you could remove “2013” in that sentence and insert almost any year, because Toronto’s long-suffering basketball team has had many, many not particularly good years. The highlight of 2013 for Raptors fans was the hiring of Masai Ujiri as the new general manager, and when a front office hire is your highlight of the year, it’s not really a good year—even if he did manage to trade both Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay.
Even worse, 2013 was a terrible year for Raptors fans because in October, the Raptor—our imaginatively named mascot—tore his ACL, and it became clear this would be a season without the Raptor. This was an awful thing, and Raptors fans were sad, because the Raptor is a great mascot—one of the best in any sports league anywhere. He makes Raptors games worth attending all by himself, whether he is devouring cheerleaders or dancing aggressively at humourless security guards or training with Amir Johnson. The Raptor makes attending a Raps game we end up losing (and that happens quite often) better simply by being the Raptor.
This is why, out of respect, the Toronto Raptors did not simply put someone else in the Raptor’s suit this year. They did the only thing possible, which was to hire his cousin, who was interning with the team in a dinosauric fashion, to fill in for the year. This was simply an acknowledgement of what everybody knows: the Raptor cannot be replaced, for he is unique and wonderful. In 2014, the Raptor will return, and once again he’ll be the best possible thing about being at a Raptors game. Until the team starts winning, anyway.