There is no doubt that Toronto Raptors fans are passionate about their team. Even in bad years (most years), attendance is high at the ACC, while their online presence rivals and surpasses almost every other NBA community.
These fans are also quick to defend the Raps against criticism, usually from American news outlets (ESPN picking a 9th place finish, for example). The talk all summer has been mostly optimistic, with great expectations for the coming season.
But, this is nothing new.
Last year, Jermaine O’Neal was supposed to turn the Raptors into a legitimate contender, until the project blew up during another disappointing season. There have been plenty of other reasons for optimism in the past, most ending in failure.
In no way, shape or form and I saying this team will end up like last year’s edition. What I am saying, is that fans have their breaking point. And at that point, enough becomes enough.
That brings us to the 2009-2010 Toronto Raptors.
Outside of the Bosh-Andrea Bargnani-Jose Calderon core, it’s an entirely new team. And with the squad welcoming Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, Demar DeRozan, Rasho Nesterovic, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson, the renewed enthusiasm is certainly justified.
My question to fans of the Toronto Raptors is this: How patient will you be with this team?
With so many new bodies, Jay Triano has the tough task of making it all work. How patient will you be with him?
Demar DeRozan is skilled but raw – Will you be frustrated if he struggles for 50 games?
Hedo Turkoglu will face the pressure of his high-profile signing – Will you worry if he struggles out of the gate?
Jose Calderon has yet to prove he can shoulder the starting point guard duties for an entire season – Will you (especially the old T.J. supporters) pine for Jack to start if Jose doesn’t cut it for the first 20 games?
What if Bargnani regresses in the early going? Will fans give up on him, again?
I’m not saying fans should or should not do these things. Personally, I’m fairly patient with these things.
All I’m saying is that the Raptors open up with a very difficult stretch of games, with what is basically an entirely new roster.
So will you be patient? And for how long?