The Raptors don’t need Attention in the US media to be Relevant

Sure, it’s not really fair that the NBA team doesn’t get as much coverage in the states, but it doesn’t really matter.

Here’s an exercise for you. Sit back, close your eyes and think about sports media; specifically basketball.

Okay, open them… I would like you to continue reading this. But answer this- When was the last time you heard the 6ix’s NBA team mentioned on American media? Add to that. When was the last time, you, the consumer of sporting information, heard the Raps mentioned in a positive light?

It’s probably been a while.

Personally, I listen to a fair amount of American sports media even though I’m based near Toronto. Various hosts such as Fox’s Colin Cowherd, NBC’s Dan Patrick and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith all talk about basketball often, I’d estimate second only to football.

During the 2015–16 playoffs, the strongest teams were Curry’s Warriors, Westbrook’s Thunder, LeBron’s Cavaliers, and the Canadian Raptors. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were the leaders of a team that literally got to the point where it represented a country. Only other pro team in the big four that did that was another T.O team- the Jays.

“Yo, Pat!!!” You scream at me as I give you knowledge you probably already know. “What’s the point of this article? We know this!” Bear with that, it’s a refresher of some basic facts.

If you’re a Toronto sports fan, specifically of the Raptors, you’re also probably aware that these American-based shows didn’t really see the team as a threat last year. Guest host Nick Wright flat-out stated on Cowherd’s show “The Herd” that he wasn’t going to consider them as a challenger to the Cavs- and by extension the Warriors and the Thunder. They went six games, and at times looked like serious contenders to the eventual champs. Not bad for a team that wasn’t a serious threat to LeBron and his ability.

Reward from the US Media? Colin Cowherd botches the pronunciation of Raptors Center Bismack Biyombo, and reads off stats about him that are in no way correct. He winced discussing the possibility of Biz going to the Lakers in the same segment (which occurred prior to Biyombo signing elsewhere). Really?

On May 26th, Cowherd tweeted “This OKC crowd tonight is an all-timer.” Um, either ESPN didn’t show Jurassic Park outside the Air Canada Centre like TSN and Sportsnet did, or the Raps (shocker) were ignored. I tweeted on the first of July that the US Media essentially does this with the Raptors- “It’s never ‘The Raptors Win.’ It’s always ‘The Cavaliers lose.”

I stand by that.

But that may not be a detriment to the Raptors, and the city shouldn’t feel as disappointed or angry about the treatment as I was initially.

For starters, it’s less pressure in the regular season, and that’s a good thing.

When LeBron is in the middle of a pressure-filled moment, the entire basketball community is watching and placing bets on whether he’ll fail.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan don’t really have to deal with that in games, and that lets them stay focused and prepared for the playoffs- where they have had a country behind them lately. They can relax a bit.

Sure, the pressure comes up in the playoffs, but that’s to be expected.

The biggest thing that fans should keep in mind though, is that if guys like Lowry and DeRozan are kept from the front page in the US, they will be easier to retain. They’ll likely enjoy the sense of stardom in front of a country, and may take a discount to keep it. This is speculation, but it could be a reason DeRozan inked a new deal to stay in Toronto rather than go to the Lakers.

So believe me, I feel you when you want to complain about the US Media treating the Raptors like garbage on Twitter like I did. I hear you loud and clear. But just remember, it could be worse.

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