The Boys are Back:
The NBA All-Star break is quickly approaching and the Toronto Raptors are currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto has dealt with many injuries to their starters & bench through the first 44 games of the season. After an excellent start to the first half of the season ‘The Boys are Back’ and they are back with vengeance. The Toronto Raptors are currently on a seven game winning streak. Each player is settling back in to finding their role, with high praise for Norman Powell solidifying his sixth-man position. Coach Nurse has done a masterful job instilling the next man up mind-set to ensure the Raptors staying on tops of the East.
The Toronto Raptors currently have the longest streak of All-Star starters in consecutive years. In 2020 it continues with the well deserving Pascal Siakim averaging 23.8 PPG – 3.5 APG – 7.7 REB in 35 games played this season. Pascal Siakim has emerged as an up and coming Super-Star putting up great numbers despite battling injuries.
I would love to see a few other players participate in some of the other All-Star weekend events. Steady Freddy is from Illinois and would be exciting in the skills challenge. If Matt Thomas didn’t miss so many games I think he would’ve been a great contender in the three-point challenge. The three-point challenge should also be the main event of the night! It would also be extremely shocking if 5x All-Star Kyle Lowry wasn’t named to his sixth ASG for All-Star Weekend. With the success of the Toronto Raptors it would be fitting to have two players in the All-Star game.
The Raptors are Streaking:
Toronto has been fighting for second place with the Miami Heat, with the Heat holding the tie-breaker. An achievable goal for the Raptors would be to finish second place in the Eastern Conference by seasons end. The Raptors have a great schedule going forward. They just got some sweet revenge against DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors have some favourable match-ups the next three games facing teams under .500 (Atlanta, Cleveland, and Detroit). My prediction is that the Raptors take care of business against these bottom feeder teams. This would lead them to 10 wins in a row. That would give the Raptors 12 wins and 3 losses in the month of January!
Sustained Success by the Raptors:
There is only one team that has won at least 25 of their first 41 games for the past 6 seasons, that team is the Toronto Raptors. It has been amazing to see the journey of how the Toronto Raptors started off as an expansion franchise back in 1995, and to see their continued success throughout this past decade. It has been an incredible achievement for the franchise and it directly correlates with the growth of Canada Basketball.
The Raptors are not only reigning NBA Champions, but are also knocking at the door of competing for another NBA Finals birth. Assuming health is maintained the Raptors will finish second in the East, and that will increase their chances to make another NBA Finals run. Through the strength of their defense, their team scoring approach, embodied with a proven All-Star veteran Kyle Lowry and an upcoming Super-Star Pascal Siakim, the Toronto Raptors find themselves in a place considered as a NBA Championship contender.
The Legacy of Kobe Bryant
My heart didn’t want to believe that the great Kobe Bean Bryant had been in a tragic accident. I thought it was fake news and it still shook me to my core. Kobe Bryant was more then just a basketball legend, he left a legacy that will last forever. We got to see 20 seasons of Kobe and he showed everyone that with a mix of God given talent and hard-work (the Mamba Mentality) you can accomplish anything. His dedication and work ethic is like no other and his love for the game is unmatched. Kobe’s Mamba Mentality inspires millions around the world and his name is etched in history not only as the greatest Los Angeles Laker, not only as one of the greatest of all time to ever play the game of basketball, but as one of the greatest athletes in history.
A Global Impact
Kobe’s impact goes far and beyond the world of basketball, but reaches the entire sports world and more. After his career a sports reporter who was interviewing Kobe and asking about his kids (his daughter Gianna was with him). The reporter asked Kobe do you want to have a boy to continue on your legacy? His daughter Gianna spoke up and said “don’t worry, I got this.” As much as Kobe’s daughters live out the Mamba Mentality, Kobe believed in them even more. One of my favourite Kobe quotes is:
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.” – Kobe Bryant
Kobe had many memorable moments throughout history. Quite possibly his most iconic game came against the Toronto Raptors when he had his legendary 81 point night. It was the best offensive display I have ever seen. This is still so surreal writing an article about the legend Kobe Bryant and having to reflect on his life. My prayers go out to his family & friends during this sad moment in history. Rest in Peace Kobe, Gianna, and all the others that were in this tragic incident.
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