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Thanks and goodbye to Raptors HQ

Setting aside the usual third person we use here: I’d like to take this opportunity to say farewell — and give thanks to all the readers of Raptors HQ over the past seven years.

NBA: Toronto Raptors-Championship Parade Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

As some may have noticed over the past seven years, I am not a sportswriter. This is perhaps a bizarre thing to declare after seven years spent at the helm of Raptors HQ, during which I put up exactly 2,000 posts ostensibly about sports. But, well, here we are.

At some point, I made peace with that declaration and realized something else instead. While I wasn't to be the next great sportswriter — an impossibility, really, given the marketplace and competition, to say nothing of my talent — I could be a steward of this site, help where I could with the nascent careers of others, and, of course, enjoy myself watching the Raptors and writing about them (and whatever else I could squeeze in). That ended up being more than enough.

I got lucky. That I ended up as manager of this site was a fluke; that I was here through the most sustained run of success in Raptors’ history seems impossible now in retrospect. (I don’t know how Adam Francis, HQ’s founder, did it through those lean years.) That I got to see every type of Raptors game — including a visit to Las Vegas for Summer League, an action-packed All-Star Weekend, and of course, a trip to the NBA Finals — is just... well, I do sometimes take a step back and wonder how I got here. It feels like a miracle.

On that note, let’s get to some thank yous. First, I do indeed have to give a special thanks to Adam for passing the ball to me. It was his initial effort that made HQ what it was; he built the platform I got to stand on and pontificate from. Also, thanks to Alex Wong, who befriended me on Twitter and let me tag along on his journey for a bit. At the risk of sounding corny and dramatic, I don’t know if either of them realizes how much those decisions changed my life. Nevertheless, they’ll always have my gratitude for bringing me in.

Next up, I have to thank all the staff, any and all writers past and present who made the effort to write anything that went up on HQ. There’s just no way to have a sports blog without writing, and there’s just no way it would have worked without you all. Forgive me, but there also very well may be over 100 of you, so I can’t name names here — feel free to yell at me in a DM. Thanks here too to Seth Pollack, who’s been the SB Nation NBA chief this whole time, making things work behind the scenes. And shoutout to the Raptors Media Relations staff for allowing me to just be around.

Finally, if you spent even one second reading any of my writing on HQ: thank you. I appreciate it a lot — even if you thought I was totally out to lunch (and said so in the comments). Part of the point of writing is doing it for yourself, the pure pleasure of expressing yourself and all that; but it is also, naturally, about writing for others and hoping they too get something from the exchange. So, again: thanks.

Now, to the heart of the matter. The joke cliche of “the real ________ is the friends we made along the way” turns out to be absolutely fitting in this case. The novelty of being in the Raptors locker room, of seeing famous NBA players, of getting to be in the building during some historic Toronto sports moments — memories I’ll cherish forever, to be clear — does sort of wear off. What I’ll hold most dear are the friendships that have formed over the past seven years. If there’s one thing I’ll miss, it’ll be getting to hang out with the whole crew at the arena. Yes, even when it was some random Tuesday in January against Charlotte, I’ll miss it.

Unfortunately, during this pandemic — and thanks to the pressures of my non-sports writing day job — it hasn’t been as easy or fun to run HQ. When Kyle Lowry left Toronto, it suddenly felt poetic for me to leave too. I’d already been thinking about an exit, so with the new season suddenly bearing down and my tank empty, it felt like the right time. It really is as simple as that. I’m thankful for having the luxury of being able to retire, as it were, from this sportswriting gig and calling it a day.

One last thing: Josh Kern will be the next Raptors HQ manager and I’m sure he’ll do right by the site. Also, I’m not going to just disappear. I’ll still be spouting off on Twitter about this or that thing (movies, local politics, transportation engineering, my graphic novel, and so on). And of course, I’ll still be following the Raptors, so there will be that. This isn’t the end.

But it is the end for me and this site. Thanks again for visiting Raptors HQ.

And now: goodbye.