It's Christmas Eve, which means once again, the HQ puts out their wishlist to Santa...on behalf of the Toronto Raptors and their fans...
Christmas Eve Number Seven.
Yep, it's hard to believe but in prepping to write our annual letter to Santa, I got looking through our archives from this night and yes...this is Santa Letter Number Seven.
The sad thing is, after perusing the old blog posts, I realized that poor Raptors' fans are still asking for pretty much the same thing.
Case in point, from the 2008 letter:
It's also the time of year when we present our Christmas wish list in hopes that Santa himself is a Toronto Raptors fan, and might have an extra 6'8" mega athletic swingman who can create his own shot, kicking around the workshop to be placed under Bryan Colangelo's tree.
Well, James Johnson is indeed a big, athletic swingman...but creating his own shot?
How about from a year before that, 2007?
A Stocking Full of Confidence for Bargnani:
Its been a tough start to the season for the big guy and he has clearly lost all of his confidence. Now it is not that this guy ever showed much emotion in the past, but you never see him get too excited and he never says that much. His body language though is doing all the talking for him; he is hesitant when he gets the ball, his shot just looks off, and his energy just seems low. Tack on some bad rebounding and D, and if there is one guy on this team that needs to get away for the next day or so it is Bargs.
Ok so Bargs has certainly found his offense since then, and it's hard to say there's a confidence issue currently. But the D, the rebounding, the body language? Yep, same as it was four years ago apparently.
And forget last year's Santa entry, I could pretty much replicate it in its entirety for this evening's post.
This year I'm going to keep the wish list pretty simple, so Santa here it is...
1) Patience. We had this one last year but it's definitely worth putting back on the wish list. Patience from fans, management, players, the guys in the truck...pretty much everyone outside of the beer guys at the ACC.
It's going to likely be a tough season in terms of wins and losses, but Bryan Colangelo knows he needs to keep a stiff upper lip. He seems to finally be buying into the ideas of building through the draft, and needing some modicum of defensive intensity on the court.
Now fans are going to have to buy into this vision too.
It seems that most have so far, but if the team gets halfway through the compressed season and has less than 10 wins, it could get ugly.
The team is just going to have to batten down the hatches and show some quantifiable improvement on the court, no matter how small, and attempt to keep everyone focused on next year and the years after that.
2) Defense. Closely linked to the first wish list item is our second, an improvement on D. I don't care if the Raptors allow 200 points a game. As long as there are some measurable gains being made in this area, especially by key personnel who likely will be counted on in the future, I'll be happy. I'm not expecting the current Celtics or Bulls here, or even the Larry Brown led Bobcats. But the turnstile to the rim needs to stop and I'm asking Santa to help out in this capacity.
If not, I'm asking him to send me the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers defence for Casey to use in practice.
3) Andrea Bargnani. Something has to be done Santa.
We have this 7 footer on the team, with all the offensive talent in the world to dominate match-ups.
But he plays like he's 6-2, coasts in and out of games, and continually draws fire from the Raptors' faithful for his "attention" to defence and rebounding.
Oh...and he plays the same position as two of the clubs' most promising young talents.
Santa, what if you simply took Bargs, and I traded him to YOU for some milk and cookies? Bargs is quite tall and nimble for someone his height, so I'm sure he'd be excellent in terms of helping you and the elves make toys. He might even be a great replacement for you when you retire, because he certainly could get those toys in and out of kids' homes without anyone noticing. He's a real magician.
Attached to the first and last wish list items is our final ask of Mr. Claus.
Along with patience, Raptors' fans are going to need to be able to laugh this year as even such a compressed schedule could feel like a very long ordeal by the time March hits.
Santa, if you could slip some Nitrous Oxide into the stockings of Raptors' fans, that would be much appreciated. Sub 40 per cent shooting and zero defence nights are going to be tough to take, so if we had some "help," that would be great.
And really, that's all Raptors' fans are asking for this year. Some patience from the club, some D, a solution to the Bargnani situation (including one from him where he puts it into high gear, and tears up the league), and some laughs during the dark days of the 2012 part of the campaign.
That's not too much to ask is it?
And hey, if you've got some room in that sack, maybe a jump shot for James Johnson, a 3-point shot for DeMar DeRozan, some point guard skills for Jerryd Bayless, a new knee for Linas Kleiza, some defensive quicks for Jose Calderon, and the fountain of youth for Jamaal Magloire...
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from the HQ!