8 Learning Moments for a Raptors fan

I LOVE the Raptors and will freely admit to be a bandwagon fan starting when they played for the Eastern Conference Finals. I think “A bandwagon fan’s guide to the Toronto Raptors” made a good point,

“Being a bandwagon sports fan often gets a bad rap, as if watching sports requires years of misery as an entry fee. But what, exactly, is wrong with getting spontaneously excited about something new and expanding your horizons a little?”

Here are my 8 Teachable Moments:

1) Our humanity must come before our desire to win

Just tweeted out as I got a confirmation, “My heart & big respect goes to Kevin Durant! While I LOVE @Raptors and want our team to win, our well wishes and admiration for a dedicated and talented player like KD must come first! Speedy recovery!

2) Improvisation happens at the highest level

I have no idea there are so much improvisation and changes between different games and even different quarters within the same game. Here is a a great excerpt from “Coach Nurse has Raptors thinking inside and outside the box in NBA Finals” by Doug Smith (TorStar),

It has always been about the feel and the moment and wilful improvisation for Raptors coach Nick Nurse, and the stage and the circumstances and the stakes these days won’t change that.

He coaches as much by his heart as he does by the numbers, asking his players to do things that are out of the norm, to try something because he feels it might work.

It’s freeing and it’s fun and it’s what he is.

“I guess (Nurse) is a guy that thinks out of the box,” Kawhi Leonard said before the Raptors practised ahead of Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors. “He is experimental, and a lot of times what he draws up on the board works.”

Nurse has been at his improvisational best in the NBA Finals that resume here Wednesday night. His team needed a spark in the final stages of Game 2, so he had the Raptors play a box-and-one defence. Four guys in a zone, Fred VanVleet chasing Stephen Curry around. No one had seen it in years and certainly not in the NBA.

“I was like, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about going box-and-one, what do you guys think?’” Nurse said here Tuesday. “And they were like, ‘Well, what does that look like?’

“I drew the box up and who would be where. They kind of liked the looks of Marc (Gasol) and Kawhi being down (near the basket), and Kyle (Lowry) up and Fred chasing. Kyle was kind of the one that said, ‘Yeah, man, that will work. Let’s go.’”

The Raptors held the Warriors without a basket for about six minutes as it unfolded. The only bucket the eventual winners got was Andre Iguodala’s dagger with seven seconds left, a play that was in no way related to the unorthodox scheme.

“I don’t know if it worked or not. I don’t know the numbers or whatever it was, but it was pretty innovative,” Lowry said. “The first time a team has probably ever played box-and-one in the NBA ever. So you give Nick Nurse credit for that.” […]

hat he asked his players to do something strange is one thing (“It’s probably something you see more often in high school — even college you’ll see it — but I don’t remember ever seeing it in the NBA,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said). Getting them to buy in and do it is another.

“First of all, your players have to have some faith in it,” Nurse said. “I got a sense of, from them, that they were good with it in the timeout.”

3) Play in a level-headed manner

It was business as usual after the win in Game 3 (G3), and even G4. Now we lost G5, I expect the Raptors to be professional to the nth degree in playing G6 tomorrow night.

4) Singing O Canada inside Oracle Arena

So moved and touched seeing people singing O Canada in this tweet@Devin_Heroux Follow Follow @Devin_Heroux More RAPTORS FANS SINGING O CANADA INSIDE ORACLE ARENA This is some scene here. #NBAFinals @cbcsports @CBCToronto @CBCNews

5) Don’t be a dick!

Mr. Mark Stevens is a rich billionaire unfortunately the idea of “Don’t be a dick” has escaped him! Shame on him and worse is the shame he bought to the champ Warriors players and team investors. Hope he is forced to sell his shares and he will be gone forever from investing in any NBA teams. Money can’t be everything.

June 6, 2019, “NBA’s hands-off policy rightly puts Warriors shareholder in his place for contact with Kyle Lowry” by Bruce Arthur

“Kyle Lowry could have lost control, but he didn’t. The Toronto Raptors point guard had just sold out to chase a ball into the stands, flying with the emotional abandon that Lowry has to live by to survive. Lowry didn’t know the man in the front row who had shoved him and was telling him to go f– himself was a billionaire minority owner of the Golden State Warriors. All Lowry knew was that someone had put their hands on him, and that, furious, he had to keep from doing the same.

Some moments feel even bigger than they are, and a day later, that flashpoint was just one of the fires burning in what might be Golden State’s crumbling empire. Mark Stevens is a venture capitalist worth some $2.3 billion (U.S.), and he owns a share of the world champions. When Lowry went flying into the stands past Stevens’ wife Mary, Stevens, wearing a red all-access NBA pass, reached over and shoved Lowry, and cursed at him multiple times. […]

The reaction was fast. Within an hour of the end of Thursday’s media availability, the NBA had fined Stevens $500,000 (U.S.) and banned him from games for a year. Citing sources close to the Warriors, NBC News and MSNBC reported it was likely Stevens would be forced to sell his shares in the next year. Several players, from LeBron James to Lowry, were unequivocal. […]

Lowry should be applauded; his teammates should be, too. The Warriors, from head coach Steve Kerr to star Steph Curry and Draymond Green, were classy and apologetic. An owner putting his hands on a player, much less cursing him out, is simply unacceptable. […]

But the Raptors have been the better team for 10 or 11 of the 12 quarters in the series. They are largely staying cool; they are, for now, in control. Game 4 will twist this series back one way, or pull it further in the other. What did Lowry say? In the heat of the moment, when the pressure and the tightness is on you, you show who you really are. The Raptors have done it, to this point. Two wins to go.”

6) Learning lots from media availability

I got so geeky that I started watching lots of pre- and post-game media availability interviews and learn a lot from insightful questions by reporters and answers by coaches, and players. Learning about how they strategize in their game play, and how they think at places made the whole experience a ton of fun. How they learn from the mistakes. And even when they are winning (either teams), the best NBA players from both team always find ways to learn and improve in the next game.

June 12, 2019 Nick Nurse Full Interview – Game 6 Preview | 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability

Steve Kerr Full Interview – Game 6 Preview | 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability

Kawhi Leonard Full Interview – Game 6 Preview | 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability

Yes, I watched the rest of the Game 6 Preview | 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability too!

June 6th, 2019: Kyle Lowry Full Interview – Game 4 Preview | 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability

7) Jeremy Lin and the randomness of life

I learned so much from this June 6, 2019 National Post article, “In basketball, as in life, everything is more random than it seems Seven years ago, Toronto Raptor Jeremy Lin’s job was to win games. Now he enters games that are already won. Basketball is strange that way

I just want to say I really admire Jeremy Lin for playing his role in helping the team get to the NBA Finals.

On Wednesday, in the NBA finals, Lin dribbled and dribbled as time wound down. He didn’t shoot. He let the shot clock expire; he picked up the ball, handed it to a referee, and walked off the court.

Lin was only in the game Wednesday because the game was already over. The Raptors had an insurmountable lead by the time he checked in with less a minute to play. He was there to fill time, to eat 51 seconds while the starters and the other rotation guards got a head start on the rest they’ll need for Friday’s game.

Seven years ago, Lin’s job was to win games. Now he enters games that are already won. That’s basketball. It’s strange that way. It doesn’t care about who you used to be.

SCMP, “Jeremy Lin becomes first East Asian-American to play in NBA Finals as Raptors beat Warriors

8) Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia

Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia is just awesome. He is interviewed on CBC in this clip,

May 28, “The diehard Raptors fan who embodies the best of Toronto (it’s not Drake)

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P.S. Here are a few other insightful articles I read and worth checking out if you wish.

June 5, 2019 NBA.com, “NBA Finals 2019: Predicting the different outcomes for Game 3 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors — Kawhi sets the stage for a short series? Curry channels his inner-Iverson? Boogie’s night? VanVleet turns into Matthew Dellavedova? There hasn’t been a Finals with this many question marks in quite some time. With the series all square, the possibilities are almost endless for what could happen in Game 3.

CBC News, 6 Jun, 2019, “Raptors’ Game 3 win at Oracle Arena puts Warriors in uncharted territory” (emphasis added)

“Inside the basketball fortress that is Oracle Arena in sunny California, Golden State Warriors fans have become accustomed to showing up at this time of year and watching their mighty team win.

So when they found their team down 17 points with nearly six minutes left in Game 3 Wednesday night against Toronto, some of the fans started heading for the exits — uncharted territory for a franchise basking in greatness.

They knew that on this night, their team wasn’t going to beat the Toronto Raptors. Because this time, the Toronto Raptors weren’t going to meltdown in the third quarter like they did in Game 2. “

June 13, 2019 update: Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champs!

CBC Sports “Kings of the NBA: Toronto Raptors capture 1st crown in thrilling win over Warriors

There’s no doubting these Toronto Raptors anymore

Kawhi Leonard joins select company as 2-time Finals MVP

Accidental champion: Kyle Lowry plays ultimate sidekick on Raptors title team

 

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