What started out as random email banter between Howland, Chapman and myself turned into something now known as RaptorsHQ. I guess our rationale for starting such a site was that we knew of so many Raptor fans who were interested in getting more information on the team than what the "traditional" media outlets were giving. We really felt that the Raptors were constantly being treated like the black sheep of the family in comparison to the Leafs and Jays (neither franchises who've enjoyed much success lately either I might add) and decided that maybe a site like ours would provoke discussion and blaze a trail in effort to set an example for local media to follow.
Ambitious? Of course.
Realistic? Definitely more so than us hoping Hoffa would average six points and six rebounds last season...
But perhaps our first major article in between our various draft workouts was Howland's "When 3/5 is a Failing Grade," an article that still rings true unfortunately but with some Colangelo magic, hopefully will be addressed this off-season.
With the ugliness of the Alonzo Mourning buyout still lingering fresh in his mind, Chapman wrote some beautiful prose in his "Dear Alonzo" letter while we continued to pump out workout recaps in anticipation of the 2005 draft, one which we extended an open invite for all to join us in viewing. And hey, if you had to watch the draft with your significant other in tow and couldn't join us live, Chapman gave readers an in depth analysis on how to explain the draft to them!
So yes, after month one and a bit, we were off and running. The rest of the season was truly a strange one for us here at the HQ as in no way did we predict the seasons Mike James or Charlie Villanueva would have and only one of us was truly adamant that Bosh would indeed take "that next step." The season also saw a coach under fire, a GM removed, a vaunted one step in to replace him, trades including the return of Antonio Davis and lots of other ups and downs. Along the way here at the HQ, we tried to give maximum coverage to each story and give an opinion as to the team on an almost daily basis.
In fact, with that in mind and in celebration of our one year anniversary, I've decided to repost my top 10 favourite articles from the past season. Some were great for the controversy they instilled, some we liked because of the humour they contained, and some we just thought really captured our feelings of the team at the moment. Here they are in no particular order...
1. Hoffa - The Brazillian Beast or Bust Part I - We all know that the drafting of Rafael Araujo has been one of the most contentious issues for Raptor fans. Back in August, we started a three-part in-depth look at Hoffa and whether indeed he could become the Brazillian Beast or Bust. So far, bust is more a-propos.
2. The Forecast Part I - Speaking of bust, back in October we wondered if the 2005 season would be just that. Howland gave us The Forecast Part I and looked at what he wanted to see from this past season's squad. The article also let us know about Mo Pete's Caribana motoring preferences...
3. Toronto Fans Union - In the mix of articles we did for the site, we also had various guest writers grace us with their presence over the season. One of my favourites was Flow 93.5's Ruby Jones' Toronto Fans' Union piece which gave readers a humorous look at accountability in professional sports. We'll definitely be getting Ruby to write something again for us this coming season.
4. New Low or Reality Check - Raptors Lose to Maccabi - When the Raptors lost a pre-season exhibition game to Maccabi it looked to be a sign of things to come for the 2005-06 edition of the Raptors. I disagreed however to a certain extent and gave my thoughts on not only why the Raptors lost but also on why NBA fans may see more of these type of losses as the European game improves each year.
5. Simma Down - Our travelling sports fanatic Jeff Chapman took a trip to Tennessee and gave his thoughts on why the Raptors, even with their "less-than-perfect" start to the season, weren't so bad off. He also speculated on Freakonomics, that Adam Morrison = Wally Szczerbiak, and that Rome Wasn't Built in a day in terms of rebuilding the Raptors.
6. An Ode To Vince Carter - Generally we've kept the Vince trash talk to a minimum...but after seeing media reports that he was getting his own statue in front of his old school, I felt something HAD to be said.
7. Raptors Report Card - 1st Edition - In what was the first of three such reports, and the article that got people in the local media talking about our site, we here at the HQ sat down and disected the team through the season's first tri-mester. Interestingly Loren Woods got an F yet remained with the team for the rest of the season while Rob Babcock who we gave an A-...
8. The Dismissal or Rob Babcock - A Study in Incompetence Part I - ...got fired. In a truly "out of the blue" move, Richard Peddie and the upper, upper brass of MLSE decided to cut their ties with Rob even as the Raptors by this point were beginning to turn things around record wise, and it seemed that the former GM's plans were on the right track. And as we bid adieu in Part II of the article, it was clear that more moves were on the way...
9. Jump Ball - Colangelo a Raptor? - And this change was the biggest. Eventually Bryan Colangelo would accept the role as the new GM of the Toronto Raptors capping off trades of Jalen Rose's obese contract and Aaron Williams in what was an interesting few weeks to say the least for Raptor fans. However before Colangelo was on board for good, the three of us here at the HQ had one of our best "jump balls" of the season discussing the impact of his potential hiring.
10. How To Yell Louder Than Everyone Else - And to cap things off, I had to go with my piece on Stephen A. Smith. Perhaps nothing gets me more fired up than ignorant people making "expert" statements and Smith defines this. After appearing on The Score television network to attempt to explain his now infamous critique of the Raptors' selection of Charlie Villanueva, Smith came off looking like more of a hypocrite than ever.
And to cap this off, here's a link looking forward. With workouts around the bend and in preparation for our favourite time of the year (the NBA Draft) we'll be taking a look at the incoming prospects and their fit in the Raps system. We'll also be revamping our "if we were GM plans" and looking at the various off-season plans we've received. In preparation for this, we've done the Raptors Team Needs report at DraftExpress.com and will be interviewing the site's founder, Jonathan Givony prior to the draft to see who he feels would be a good fit for the Toronto Raptors.