Before I continue with my post today, I just wanted to mention this fantastic feel-good story about a 17 year old autistic kid in New York who was inserted into the final home game with his team up 20 points, and proceeded to drain SIX 3-point shots and set a school record. Prior to this, he spent the season helping out with various drills, handing out water bottles, running the clock, and pitching in on anything else the coach required. What a great basketball story. You can also read another article here.
The trade deadline has come and gone like Christmas in the desert, and aside from one four-team trade and a couple of yawners, Eric Williams is still a Raptor. There was no doubt management exerted considerable efforts to move him to another club, but teams were reportedly weary of his 4 million dollar contract. And let’s all nod our heads together on this one - Eric hardly commanded any attention during his brief playing stint prior to the All Star break. Williams is just going to have to brave the Raptors bench, and Toronto’s wacky weather, for the rest of the season until he enters his contract year (2006-2007) before he’ll find any takers.
Management won’t be losing any sleep. The Raptors have suddenly found themselves in a position that doesn’t require a finger on the panic button. With a fairly big front court, backed by Mine James and Show Peterson, Toronto’s rotation is quite robust. Bonner, Calderon, and Graham will be logging major minutes off the bench, which may very well spell the demise of the Eric and Darrick show this season. Loren Woods will continue to wear out his headband on the bench unless the Ents roll into town, and The Brazilian Civilian has officially been forgotten by Raptors fans. That may be a good thing for Hoffa’s career right now.
This marks the first time this season that the Toronto Raptors have some semblance of stability. With the reported hiring of Bryan Colangelo on the horizon, the consistent development of Charlie Villanueva, and Bosh’s continued on-court dominance, there is reason for newfound optimism. And let’s not forget the team is far removed from the dead last spot so many media outlets were hastily predicting in the pre-season. A strong push into the final 20 games may just be enough to bring back basketball excitement to Toronto, and give the fans something to finally cheer about.