I have a confession that very few close friends would dispute: I'm obsessed with all things Raptors. I got it bad. I have a problem. From my Raptors-logo'd coffee table to my Raptors socks to the framed Sports Illustrated mag cover on my living room, Canada's NBA team has delightfully invaded many corners of my life, filling up the gaps in between with basketball ephemera I never thought I'd hoard.
I'll tumble stats into my brain like I'm shotgunning a beer at 19. I'll download podcasts on all things ball as if I were studying for midterms on the free agency class of 2020. And, most recently, I've been devouring highlights of the Raptors' remarkable playoff run and championship.
See, when I want to turn my work-brain off, I often sidle up to sports and let the game's true reality-TV drama compel my eyes to never turn away from the on-court action. What makes this summer different is how I couldn't stop watching the YouTube videos breaking down how the box-and-one stymied Steph Curry in the Finals, the top 10 Kyle Lowry plays of the playoffs, Kawhi's defensive pounding on Giannis versus the Bucks, and so on.
Whenever I got down about a family member being stricken with bad health, or I felt that tinge of blargh after a grey and rainy day, I just queued up any highlights package video featuring my Raps going ham against the Magic or Sixers or Bucks or Warriors. It instantly creases my face into a smile. I might've seen that same video four days ago, but it strangely feels fresh each time, making my pulse race as Lowry gets the steal, lobs to Siakam on the transition and SLAM! and I pump my fists with Mark Devlin's enthusiastic play-calling.
Maybe I'm finding immense joy in these non-stop sports loops thanks to wishing for that championship run since I started watching the squad 20 years ago. Maybe I'm in awe of athletic excellence, and since I know Lowry and company best out of any sports team, I can identify exactly how, say, FVV stepped up his D in the Finals, or how Ibaka loves to use his off arm to clear some space to snag a rebound, reminding me how he once told reporters he didn't understand why rebounders complained about his aggression down low. So yeah, I got a problem.
I say that tongue-in-cheek though because deep in my heartiest of hearts, I know my Raps obsession isn't as much as a problem as it is a pastime to entertain me after a long day of intense work at the ol' journalism factory. My kind of job requires more mental labour than physical labour, so it's relaxing to unwind my often-bustling head with the big plays I remember rooting for live, clapping high-fives to whoever was nearby.
As the season begins tonight with the Raps facing the Pels, I'm reminded of that sports poem I wrote where I complain about watching too much TV blaring Raps or NFL games, wondering where I could've spent those hundreds of hours I devote to being a living room quarterback. But to watch the Raps go from underdog to world champs, well, that run was worth the eyes attached to the screen to find out if my guys would finally ascend to the highest peak in the league. Because who knows when this will happen again. And I'm in the business of seeing things through to the end, and I never wanted to quit on a team I knew would make all Raptors fan so damn happy in the end.
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