If you’re a Raptors fan, then chances are you’ve been a little bit parched for local content thanks to the scarcity of Toronto representation during the past weekend’s All-Star activities.
Thankfully, the NBA is a noisy place regardless of whether or not the team you support is playing games or not. With that said, this edition of the Toronto Temperature will take a dive into all of the good, Raptors-related things that came out of the week-long break while pushing aside all of the negativity that tends to come floating to the surface once games resume — to say nothing of the pandemic cloud the team is currently operating under.
Let’s take the Temperature.
Kyle Lowry, Not About That Rumour Life
All right, a brief recap of how we got to where we are today regarding the seemingly annual dance of “Kyle Lowry will definitely be traded.”
First up, we had the inevitable rumours that are attached to a veteran player on an expiring contract playing for a team with a losing record — nothing really to see there. That particular drum is beat on a regular basis. Then, Kyle Lowry listed his house on the market and Raptors Twitter became the living, breathing embodiment of the “this is fine” dog in their own digital burning house. More and more writers with “sources” came out of the woodwork stating where Lowry would likely go while not a single peep had come from Lowry, his camp, or the Raptors — as is their custom.
Then, Ryen Russillo appeared on some Boston Celtics’ homer’s podcast stating that Lowry had been telling people for months that he’s going to be traded. The reporting cycle trudged along, lending credence to a baseless rumour until arriving at what is hopefully the the last domino to fall in this pointedly banal journey.
From Kyle Lowry’s desk : pic.twitter.com/gOryFnIdNE— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) March 9, 2021
Lowry has had enough with the rumour mill and the sources and the fake trades. Essentially, if the Raptors decided to trade Lowry — a real possibility, sure — then they will do so behind closed doors and will likely send Lowry to a place where he can compete for another championship to add to his illustrious resume. So, enough now, yes? Yes.
Yuta Watanabe, Top Seller
There is certainly something to be said for Toronto’s love for the everyman. From big bruisers like Charles Oakley to lunch pale heroes like Jerome “JYD” Williams and Amir Johnson, Toronto has a penchant for rooting for the underdog. Well, as it turns out, Toronto’s latest player to fit that bill has drummed up some international fanfare!
The NBA just announced that YUTA has the top-selling NBA jersey in Japan so far this season, and the Raptors are tops in merch sales there among teams.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 10, 2021
While you might think that Watanabe’s jersey being an NBA top-seller in Japan isn’t that out of the ordinary, you have to consider that there is another Japanese player playing in the NBA who is much more lauded than Yuta: Rui Hachimura. As you’ll recall, Rui was a lottery pick for the Washington Wizards in 2019 and isn’t an end-of-the-bench type of guy, so there is a bit of shock-value to this report.
Surprise or not, it’s still nice to see the Raptors getting their international flowers.
Norman Powell, A Boss
Excited to partner with @HUGOBOSS to help launch their first #BOSSxNBA co-branded capsule collection...this @Raptors logo gear is . Join the #BOSSteam @NBA #ad pic.twitter.com/KkaMQ12os8— norman powell (@npowell2404) March 9, 2021
Looks like at least one Raptor was all about his business during the down-time from the NBA season. As if earning an A+ from Daniel Reynolds in his annual mid-season player report card wasn’t enough, Norman “BOSS Man” Powell stayed on his grind by partnering with HUGO BOSS on their capsule collection, likely earning himself some extra chips to go along with what has been an extremely satisfying season for him thus far.
Speaking of extremely satisfying...
Serge Ibaka, Thirst Trap Extraordinaire
Yes, yes, Serge doesn’t play for the Raptors anymore, but Ibaka is enshrined in the Raptors family and this level of thirst-trapping simply cannot be ignored.
Serge Ibaka may have had the best All-Star break of all pic.twitter.com/eeGBkRNS6I— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) March 9, 2021
Never one to shy away from his, to be frank, ridiculously good looks, Ibaka decided to put on a little show to ensure anyone with eyeballs stayed sated during the potentially dry All-Star break. Raptors Twitter broke out into a full-on horn-fest and it is safe to say that Serge gave everyone exactly what they were hoping to see from a guy drinking straight margarita mix while smoking a hookah in a pool.
Kawhi Leonard, This Picture Resurfacing
Since we’re on the topic of former Raptors who will forever be remembered as members of the squad, it would be a disservice if readers didn’t get a good, solid look at this picture of Kawhi Leonard as a, I’m presuming, teenager.
Fun Guy Kawhi pic.twitter.com/lNnuefuZVD— NBA Best Matchups (@NBABestMatchups) March 9, 2021
There is no better indicator of the future than the past, and after glancing into Leonard’s past, the delightful confirmation that he has either always been this way, or has been sticking to a straight-man bit for 20+ years is truly admirable and beautiful to see. He might be gone from Toronto, but he will always live in our hearts.