There are a million moments in a basketball game that fly by unnoticed. And then there are some that come to define the very game itself, or a certain team, or, even better, a specific player. We’re not talking out-of-this-world highlights here, just those moments that have fans thinking of exactly the same thing at the same time. A tweet went zooming around Twitter yesterday that captured that idea quite clearly.
What VERY SPECIFIC thing do you miss about sports the most? Be as specific as possible.— Steve Braband (@stevebraband) April 15, 2020
This got me thinking. As a knee-jerk response, I of course had to provide one of my favourite moments in any Raptors game, those times when the game is moving one way or the other for Toronto, and the team’s leader, Kyle Lowry, decides he wants to pick up the pace to either turn things around or really get things going in his favour.
Kyle Lowry urging a ref to hurry up and give him the ball to inbound. https://t.co/0aPAOMma3d— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) April 15, 2020
There really is nothing to that moment. After a bucket, foul, or timeout, Lowry will urge the ref to hand him the ball so he can get the Raptors moving quick. That’s it. In fact, some people in the replies told me that it doesn’t even mean anything, that it never works to actually get the Raptors an advantage. In this, I can’t necessarily disagree, but I can say something else: that’s not the point. Lowry is urging the action on faster because he sees it moving faster in his head. He’s already ahead of where the game is in that moment and he wants the referee, the ball, his teammates, the crowd, the entire universe to catch up to him. Yes, it’s a small moment — but it literally contains the whole world.
I admit, this notion sets the bar high for where we’re going with the rest of this piece. Here’s what I’m trying to get at: what very specific thing do you miss about each of these Raptors? I’ve made the case for Lowry, but let’s go down the rest of the roster and think about it.
Kyle Lowry — See above.
Pascal Siakam — That moment when Siakam turns on the jets and you can see him, usually along the bottom of the TV screen, just ripping past guys in the open floor.
Fred VanVleet — That mooment when a little smirk gets on VanVleet’s face right before he knows he’s about to unleash a devastating one-liner in a post-game scrum.
OG Anunoby — That moment after any exciting play Anunoby makes when he totally stone-faces it back up the court.
Marc Gasol — That moment when a call goes against Gasol, and he turns to the referee with questions in his eyes. He’s not mad, just disappointed.
Serge Ibaka — That moment when Ibaka holds his follow-through on a jumper just a beat longer than necessary to let you know he’s really proud of that shot right there.
Norman Powell — That moment Powell gregariously breaks up a post-game scrum with hooting and hollering and then, chastened mere seconds later, settles into an interview.
Patrick McCaw — That moment when McCaw says screw it and lets fly — yes, for real.
Terence Davis — That moment when Davis dribbles down the lane and makes that one-handed fake-dribble push pass to a rolling big man.
Chris Boucher — That moment when Boucher hits a big shot (usually a three) and jogs back up court, the shrug implied entirely in his eyes.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — That moment when Hollis-Jefferson goes 1-through-5 on a defensive switch on a random play in, like, the second quarter.
Matt Thomas — That moment when Thomas curls around a screen, and the other team doesn’t quite know what’s about to happen.
Malcolm Miller — That moment when Miller can only lean back his locker room chair with a smile.
I’m going to go ahead and stop there because I can’t yet think of moments from Stanley Johnson, Dewan Hernandez, and the two-way players Oshae Brissett and Paul Watson. I hope to do some one day soon though.
Now, what very specific things do you miss about these Raptors?