Anyone familiar with the 2014-15 Toronto Raptors will tell you that they are one of the tightest-knit groups in the NBA.
Although Kyle Lowry was an all-star starter, the Raptors lack a true superstar. As a result, they must rely on their chemistry and trust in one another, with a different player stepping up each night.
As Sportsnet's Dave Zarum writes, that coveted bond begins behind the scenes in the team's family room.
According to head of team services Doreen Doyle, the dozen-plus children of the Raptors' players and coaching staff is a team record. Equipped with a plastic basketball net, boxes of toys, television, and pizza-loaded kitchen, this place sounds like a child's paradise. For the players, knowing their families are being taken care of lifts a weight off their shoulders and allows them to perform better.
"It makes it easy for the guys to relax and focus on basketball while they’re out there," Ayahna Lowry says. "They don’t have to worry about their children or significant others; they know we always have somebody to call, whether they’re in town or not."
Whereas in some cases getting wives, girlfriends and children together can lead to drama (see the television show Basketball Wives if you're into that sort of thing), those in the family room seem to click just as well as the Raptors do on the court.
The family room's atmosphere has drawn rave reviews from several people, including Dwane Casey's wife Brenda.
"We’re so well taken care of," Brenda Casey says. "This is my fourth team and they’re all different, but to have babysitters here to watch the kids during the game—we’ve never had that anywhere before. To have a full spread of meals so you’re essentially having 41 meals with your husband’s co-workers… It’s a great way to connect the families. Our kids are all friends, we’re all friends among the wives."
These children continue to get reps on the net in the family room, and, who knows, maybe in 20 years we will see some of them suiting up for the Raptors. If the skill level isn't there, they can still take solace in the fact that they are the cutest kids in the league.
Again, you can read the entire piece here.