04-21-2014, 10:57 PM
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D. Smith: Raptors demand more respect from the NBA
There is so much more to these NBA playoffs for the Raptors than just the post-season.
There are messages to be delivered and notices to be served.
If general manager Masai Ujiri might have been a bit intemperate with his “Eff Brooklyn” statement before Game 1 of the series with the Nets, he was simply standing up for an organization that needs to command respect from a league that hasn’t shown much of it in the past half decade.
There is more public fight to this group, more feistiness, more standing up for itself than it’s shown, more “We’re fed up and we’re not going to take it any more.”
From front office personnel to players, coaches and support staff, it’s as if they’ve finally had enough of being slighted. The first post-season appearance since 2008 is a perfect avenue to get that out.
It is at so many levels:
•Ujiri’s “F--- Brooklyn” line was a barb aimed at the Nets who basically threw games to assure a first-round matchup with the Raptors.
•It’s the fact a division championship team got the worst possible start time for its playoff opener; 12:30 p.m. on a Saturday is the worst TV time, the worst tip-off time for the internal body clocks of players.
•It’s Ed Malloy — considered by many to be one of the worst referees in the NBA — getting the Game 1 officiating assignment on a crew that might have been the weakest overall in the eight weekend playoff openers.
It’s all that and more from history that has created this new atmosphere around the team.
All those admissions from the league for blown calls that cost them chances to win games, all the horrible regular-season scheduling like the four-games-in-five-nights-on-the-west-coast-season-killing November trips, the bad calls that have made the organization feel in some way like the redheaded stepchildren of the NBA.
It’s not so much disrespect as it is disregard and if there’s one thing Ujiri, Dwane Casey and players want out of this one shot in the spotlight, it’s for the league to take notice and make some changes.
It’s not that anyone will go on the record to voice the obvious concerns — the possibility of hefty fines tends to dissuade them from doing that — but it is palpable.
Raptors demanding respect from NBA, tired of shoddy treatment | Toronto Star
DeMar DeRozan spoke of it in the abstract last week when he talked about wanting to ensure the Raptors aren’t seen as pushovers by anyone in the league; Casey has talked about the need for respect from the league and officials incessantly over the past three seasons and the post-season has galvanized it and made casual fans sit up and take notice.
Ujiri has been the driving force since he arrived as the team’s president and general manager. Fans can be sure the message he delivers to them publicly is being made privately to top NBA officials often.
What he wants more than anything is a fair shake, he doesn’t want the franchise to just be known as one the one that’s outside the continental U.S. by agents, fans, rival teams and the league.
He and the team have a pulpit now to make some noise and make themselves relevant: They are in a playoff series against a team that comes from the biggest media market in North America. Playing the Nets is a perfect platform to stand up and say, “hey, look at us, we’re here and we’re not going away.”
For the first time in a long time, casual NBA observers are taking notice of Toronto and Ujiri wants them to understand the Raptors aren’t just glad to be in their consciousness, he wants them to remain there and if it takes slagging another organization well, that’s what it takes.
All they want — particularly in this series against a far more experienced opponent — is a fair whistle and a fair shake and for the league and the other teams to know this is the start of something, not the finish.
For the first time in a long time, the Raptors are publicly standing up for themselves, they are using this post-season appearance to demand that the league, the officials, the other teams notice them.
It is a new era and they hope the start of a long and good one.
In the long run, it probably doesn’t matter too much whether they win or lose the series; what matters is this is a significant first step to letting everyone know the Raptors are finished with slights