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Fun and Good Highlight: One Shining Moment

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We hold on as hard as we can to things that we know will come to an end in this week’s Fun and Good Highlight

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I was going to open my column with an ice cold take this week and call college basketball unwatchable and terrible. The take is absolutely, unequivocally correct but it is also extremely boring. Both teams in college basketball (relatively speaking) suck at offence, turning the games into nightmarish brickfests, which is bad. What’s worse is that both teams are stocked with unpaid labourers, so by watching you are, in a small way, complicit in undermining workers rights. And, to paraphrase the delightful Jon Bois, there are two types of people in this world: those that are pro-workers’ rights and those who are assholes.

You know this though. You’ve heard it before, and you probably agree with it. I’m not going to waste my time preaching to the choir. Especially because college basketball doesn’t completely suck.

There are good parts of college basketball. The most notable of these is, in my opinion, the sense of finality it has. College basketball has a starting point and an ending point. Enclosed between those two points are four years which, for many players, represent the pinnacle of their experience with basketball. Four years in the national spotlight and then it’s off to Europe or the G-League or Australia or wherever. Maybe not even that, maybe they’re just dominating pick-up games.

This, to me, lends so much more weight to some of the storylines that come out of college basketball. Watching them unfold you know that the end to the story is rushing full speed towards those involved. You don’t have time to change a narrative, you don’t have time to shed a label, you don’t have time to heat up or to cool down, you just don’t have time. Almost as soon as it starts: game’s over, story’s over, here’s “One Shining Moment”. What a perfect song choice.

Donte DiVincenzo had his “One Shining Moment” last night, recording a timely thirty-one points that will ensure that he’ll be remembered as the greatest sixth man in NCAA finals history. In doing so he made Kyle Lowry an NCAA champion, adding to an excellent year for the former Villanova Wildcat: he’s now won the Super Bowl, won an NCAA championship and signed a 100 million dollar contract all in the past year.

That’s one of two Raptors tie-ins I have here. The second is thus: the 2017-18 Toronto Raptors are going to end, and they’re going to end soon. The Raptors will be back next year of course, but these Raptors, these Raptors who are the best team in franchise history, will not. The changes could be minor, they could be major, but this will be a different team when they return next fall. So enjoy these Raptors while you still can, because you won’t be able to watch them for much longer. Enjoy moments like this:

Moments like this:

And, of course, moments like this:

The players who compose the Raptors’ bench were totally unheralded to start the year save for C.J. Miles. All were young guys who you had never heard of if you weren’t a Raptors fan. They were seen as a reason to doubt the Raptors, a reason they would fall short of the lofty expectations they had set for themselves over past years.

The bench aren’t going to be underdogs again. No one’s calling Delon Wright a total non-shooter. No one’s questioning Jakob Poeltl’s ability to finish strong at the rim. No one’s calling for Dwane Casey’s head when he chooses to play Fred VanVleet in crunch time.

Rooting for underdogs is more fun than the alternative. When they win it feels like you were in on some secret, like you saw something that everyone else was missing. It’s a feeling that Raptors fans felt way back in 2013-14, when these Raptors were brand new. One we felt again in 2015-16 when the Raptors proved they could reach new heights. The feeling always faded, it was always fleeting, inevitably vanishing by the next year. This year we’re getting a chance to feel it again.

Cherish that feeling, it won’t last.