Tim Leiweke, the President of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment [MLSE], and therefore the head honcho of the Toronto Raptors, has been all over the news lately. He is making a serious effort to build up the “sexiness” of the team in the eyes of basketball fans in our city, and across the continent. The announcement that Toronto will indeed host the 2016 All-Star Game was a perfect drum-beating opportunity which Leiweke, master marketer that he is, didn’t fail to seize upon. By now, the news (?) that rapper Drake has signed on as some sort of Raps’ team ambassador has been trumpeted by every media outlet in town. The team has also committed to a re-branding exercise, promising a new colour scheme, logo and uniforms. Oddly enough, the team name will remain “Raptors”.
Perhaps I’m just being a grumpy old man, but I can’t help fretting about the implications of this flurry of image re-creation. MLSE has been quite properly hammered by the press for years because of its obsession with financial matters at the expense (yuck, yuck) of the teams (Maple Leafs, FC, Raptors) under its aegis. We fans have railed to no avail about crazy ticket prices and overpriced food, all to support consistently losing teams. Leiweke was supposed to be the New Sheriff in Town, who would concentrate on creating an environment where winning was paramount. Bryan Colangelo was ushered out of his job as Raps GM, Masai Ujiri was parachuted in, and yet we’ve just endured one of the dullest off-seasons I can remember. Does the thought of Tyler Hansbrough and D.J. Augustin in Raptor red (or whatever the primary colour turns out to be) fill your heart with fresh enthusiasm? Me neither. Do we have any reason to be excited about this upcoming season? Not really, but our players will shortly be decked out in new kit. Oh joy.
Hey Tim, I’ve got this madcap idea to create buzz – how about winning some basketball games?
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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