Friday August 22, 2014

All eyes on basketball this spring


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: Habs or Raps?

So I’m supposed to love hockey, right? I mean it is somehow hard wired into being Canadian. At least that is the way it has seemed for most of my life.

The recent experience of being up at 6 a.m. and in a bar watching the Canadian men win gold medals at the Sochi Olympics reaffirms I still love the game.

As does my hope, desire, want, for the Yorkton Terriers to win their first national championship in May.

But my interest in the National Hockey League has waned for various reasons. So while Montreal winning a 25th Stanley Cup would be a rather exciting ride, I can’t see it happening. And with no other Canadian teams to cheer for in the playoffs, I am tuning out early.

The Toronto Raptors on the other hand intrigue. The Raptors are a team which has had its years of hopes with Damon Stoudamire, winning a Rookie of the Year in 1996 with the Raps, and the Vince Carter years, but never really achieved expectations.

This year with some unlikely heroes; DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, the Raptors won the Atlantic Division, going 48-34, respectable even in the weaker East.

The Raptors face Brooklyn in the opening round of the National Basketball Association playoffs, and while TO won’t win the Conference with Miami the beast of the East and Indiana sporting the best record on that side of things, a good run by the Raps would be entertaining to say the least.

So it’s good luck Habs, but my eyes will be more on the Raps this spring.

— Calvin Daniels

It’s pretty hard for me to get excited about the Montréal Canadiens. As a die-hard Ottawa Senators fan, hockey season ended for me a couple of weeks ago when the Sens were eliminated.

The great thing about hockey, of course, is that you don’t necessarily need a Canadian team in the playoffs to cheer for Canadians since pretty much every roster in the NHL is chock full of us.

Bottom line, it won’t break my heart if the Habs get bounced.

Professional basketball is a different animal altogether. We have one team in Canada and nary a Canadian to be found on it. The game itself, however, is a Canadian’s invention and is at the dawn of a golden era in this country. There were 104 Canucks at NCAA Division I schools this season. One of those, Andrew Wiggins is the odds on favourite to be the number one pick in the 2014-2015 NBA draft.

And the Toronto Raptors are in. At the beginning of the season, nobody gave the Dinos a shot at the playoffs much less winning their division with the best win-loss record in franchise history.

Unfortunately, I think they’re in tough against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets wanted the matchup, for good reason. Even though the Raptors finished the regular season with the superior record, they may actually be the underdog. It is a role, however, they have comported themselves well in as the Cinderella season unfolded.

While a Game I loss for the Raptors was a bit of a setback I don’t think they are done. They have disproved the naysayers all year and can win on the road with the best in the league.  They will beat the Nets, but get knocked off by the Miami heat in round two.

Go Raptors!

— Thom Barker

I’ll be honest here. For me, hockey usually comes way before basketball, especially the NBA (NCAA basketball March Madness, when my Oilers are out of playoff contention, does take priority).

However I find myself reversed now.

I don’t really care about how the Montreal Canadiens, the lone Canada-based hockey team to qualify for the NHL playoffs, do in the post-season from a success standpoint, however I do hope they fail.

And the reason I hope they fail is largely because of their fans. Their arrogant, cocky fans who instantly claim that the Habs are “Canada’s Team” because they are the last Canadian team remaining.

So instead of paying attention to the Habs and their, I find myself following the Toronto Raptors, a team who is making their first NBA playoff appearance since the 2007-08 season.

That’s because the Raptors have all of a sudden become enteraining to watch. DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Terrance Ross, “Psycho T” Tyler Hansbrough and my personal favourite, the big Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, have been playing a great brand of basketball.

Combine their success with the great Raptors ad campaign titled “The Northern Uprising,” a campaign designed to get all of Canada behind the Raptors, and you have people like me cheering for the Raptors in a sport that we couldn’t be bothered to follow at the professional level before.

Unfortunately for the Habs and their arrogant fans, the Raptors, who came out of nowhere to win the NBA’s Atlantic Division with a 48-34 record, are the only Canada-based sports team in a playoff series that can truly lay claim to the title “Canada’s Team” (the Toronto Blue Jays can claim the title as well due to being the only Canada-based team in the MLB).

The Northern Uprising has begun in the NBA. As for the Habs, Bleu, Blanc, Booooo!

— Randy Brenzen



NOTE: To post a comment in the new commenting system you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID. You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Yorkton This Week welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Quick Vote

Survey results are meant for general information only, and are not based on recognised statistical methods.



Lost your password?