The long-as-hell championship title drought is a painful, sacred thing. The pain is understandable of course, generated as it is by years and years of frustration, disappointment and oh-so-close emotion. The second part, the sacredness, is admittedly more mysterious. This is not, after all, some holy covenant — it’s just sports.
This dismissive sentiment overlooks the very real history and tradition (both good and bad, mind you) passed down over the years. Here we find families and friends coming together to celebrate and commiserate, lives moving into and out of focus, children being born while an earlier generation passes away. Usually it doesn’t take as long as all that (one would hope), but it does provide a compelling backdrop, a continuum on which to mark the time. We can look back and say, yes, that was the year.
So when the expectation is fulfilled, when your favourite team finally does win it all, it can feel rather holy, like a benevolent god leaned down and said sure, have at it. It’s a wondrous moment made sweeter when you consider all the time that’s passed and all the people — both on the team and in our own lives — who have moved along with and through it. Everybody wins in this long view, even the losers. They can just add another chapter to their eventual hard-fought tale of success.
All of this is to say, congrats to Cubs fans. I know it’s not a basketball story, but it feels good when prayers are answered, when patience — in sports or otherwise — pays off, when droughts are figuratively — and literally! — met with rain. There were a lot of smiling grandparents on display last night, which will never not be special. It was a grand time 108 years in the making.
Perhaps this is where we, as Raptors fans, can allow ourselves some optimism for the future. Last season saw our favourite team get as close as they’ve ever gotten to an NBA championship. On paper, they were six games away — two more wins in the Eastern Conference Finals and a run through the Finals would have done it. Sure, it was an impossible outcome (with LeBron and Steph in their way), but it was right there. The Raptors have been around for 21 years, and have been mostly bad in that time. Those brief blips where it looked like something good would lead to something great, some sort of miracle run or sustained dominance, dissipated. In some of those low moments, in the darkest depths of a fan’s heart, it’s hard to keep despair at bay.
But consider the flip side here: Eventually it will happen, eventually your team, our team, will ascend to the top of the mountain victorious. Eventually we too will get to celebrate along with our sports heroes in the city we live in, the city we love. Eventually we’ll get to be the smiling grandparents. I do believe it.
But I do suppose we have to address Bebe matters in this, a Bebe column. The Raptors played three games in the past week, going 2-1, the sole loss coming against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers in a close game. The unhappiness here is compounded twice-over. We know the Raptors are not title bound, despite what the closeness of the final score suggested in their game against the Cavs. They don’t quite have the stuff to beat a team like that four times out of seven. At least not now.
Moreover, we now know that Lucas Nogueira may not even get a chance to strut his stuff any time soon — not with an ankle at less than 100 percent, and Jakob Poeltl, a rookie, making the kinds of strides of which a coach’s dreams are made. I can’t properly quantify how this makes me feel. In the lead up to this season, after the Raptors made no significant long term moves to upgrade their frontcourt (the Jared Sullinger signing being more of a stopgap measure), all signs pointed to Bebe. What a time to be alive, and all that.
But things fell apart, the rotation has changed, the window has closed. Do not despair, good can still become great, but oof, we’re not in a good space right now. Time can turn against you.
Level of High Level
Our prime moment of high level Bebe comes this week from a brief encounter:
Almost bumped into Bebe walking out of locker room. I was startled. "Don't be afraid," said Nogueira. "It's Halloween, bro."— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) October 31, 2016
We know Patrick Patterson dressed up on Halloween — you’ll never guess how serious he took it -- but I for one would love to consider what Bebe would go as. Sideshow Bob? A sea anemone? Something else? Help me out here.
High Level Result: 3 out of 10 — I mean, cool for the Cubs and their fans and everything, but I’m confident Bebe doesn’t even watch baseball, and now he’s got one leg in the doghouse because he landed on a dude’s foot with force.
Nothing sacred about that. The world can be cruel.