The Toronto Raptors don’t exactly have a big history considering their relative "newness" in NBA years.
And during that existence, we as fans know that there hasn’t exactly been a huge amount of ESPN Classic material to showcase.
In fact, apart from walking through the halls of the ACC and gazing at various still shots of ex Raptors like Charles Oakley and Morris Peterson, there really just isn’t much historical emphasis regarding the team.
Part of this as mentioned, is simply because the club hasn’t been around for that long.
Part of it is also because many of Toronto’s marquee players didn’t stay around long enough to truly be considered "ex-Raptor Greats" (T-Mac), while others made their names elsewhere even if they did have solid impacts on the team (Oakley.)
However another piece of the puzzle is that frankly, there just wasn’t enough emphasis on history, something that I, along with many others, has always viewed as a shame.
That appears to finally be changing however as reports are swirling that Alvin Williams will be standing on the sidelines next year as one of Jay Triano’s Assistant Coaches. What his role will be, or even his hiring for that matter, has yet to be confirmed but the mere fact that this discussion is taking place is something I view as a giant stride in the right direction.
This team needs to lay down some more roots in order to eventually ingrain itself in Toronto’s cultural identity and what better way to do that then to build a bridge to the team’s past by hiring on one of the franchise’s most popular players; a player too who was part of the club’s most successful on-court time period.
The Blue Jays made a similar move last year when they brought back Cito Gaston, their manager during the Blue Jays’ two consecutive World Series’ titles. Even before their improved play this season the move worked in the Jays’ favour simply from a PR standpoint. Add in the fact that Gaston has done a solid job in his return and you’ve got a recipe for success.
For the Raptors, it’s doubtful that there would be any similar expectations in terms of Williams’ impact from a coaching standpoint. However having Alvin around not only shows that the team is tipping its hat to its recent past, but Williams could prove to be a valuable locker-room presence, and a solid mentor to aid in the development of some of the Raptors’ youth. While one of our readers argued that "Boogie" would help to teach how to jack up shots at the buzzer, I think it’s more his professionalism and approach to the game that would be a huge asset to the team, especially coming from a near-peer. Remember, this isn’t the same situation as having an older coach who hasn’t played in the league in decades on board, this is a player who up until a few summers ago was still burning NBA players in Philadelphia summer leagues.
That being said, even if Williams and Iavaroni are signed to help Triano over the next few weeks, I for one would still like to see another assistant added, preferably an NBA vet along the lines of a PJ Carlesimo. I think over the past few seasons fans have seen a dire need of a polished NBA strategist working on the sidelines and if it’s not present in the head coach, it should be close by.
But getting back to Alvin, this is a good start.
We’ve spoken at length about team needs and most of that has focussed solely on the on-court holes that require filling.
This is a huge off-court void that has needed some attention for quite some time, and as a fan, I’m incredibly pleased the club has finally looked to address it.