Don’t start calling the Toronto Raptors the Tampa Bay Raptors

Like many Canadians, the Toronto Raptors are heading south for the winter.

The pandemic has put a damper on many things in our life and not being able to watch the Toronto Raptors at home is one of them.

Based on restrictions and being the only NBA team in Canada, it made sense that the team isn’t playing in Toronto, but it’s still disappointing. One thing that’s certain is that people better not start calling this team the Tampa Bay Raptors, because they’re just visiting.

Toronto Mayor John Tory summed it up perfectly saying: 

“They’re our Raptors, and Tampa Bay shouldn’t get any ideas in that regard.”

What I’ll Miss Most About the Raptors

Heading down to Scotiabank Arena to watch a basketball game, like many others, was one of my favorite things to do from October-June. Having been a fan of this team for so many years, it’s upsetting not being able to see a game in person, while a state that has one of the worst numbers of Covid-19 cases in America will be allowing a few thousand fans in every night to watch our team.

The energy in Scotiabank Arena is something that I’ve missed more than anything over the past nine months. When you walk into the building for any game, you can feel it. Whether it’s a regular-season match-up against the Orlando Magic or a playoff game, there’s no better entertainment than a Raptors game.

As someone who has attended Toronto Raptors games ever since the team existed, the thing that has always stuck out were the fans. It’s the complete opposite of attending a Toronto Maple Leafs game. The hockey experience in the exact same building is way more corporate, quiet, and boring.

The Raptors fanbase is multicultural and represents Toronto perfectly. Even as the ticket prices increased throughout the championship-run two seasons ago, the electricity in the building didn’t change. The everyday fan still felt represented and the community was amazing. Even if the team went down, the “Let’s Go Raptors” chants would fill the arena with 20,000 people screaming, and most of the time, the team would rally from it and mount a comeback.

Whether it’s the excitement from PA Announcer Herbie Kuhn after a big three or quieting the crowd with a “Shhhhhhhh…ooting two,” it feels like everyone in attendance, truly cares about the team and that’s the biggest thing that will get missed when the team plays in Tampa Bay. Not only was the electricity inside the building insane, outside was even crazier for big games, which says so much about how much Toronto loves the Raptors.

Unless Super Fan Nav Bhatia is in attendance for every game in Tampa Bay, then I can’t get behind the team playing their home games anywhere except Toronto.

Even if the team can recreate all of these wonderful moments from Scotiabank Arena at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, it’s not a Toronto Raptors home game. To me, the Toronto Raptors will only have a road-record, until they can start saying “We the North” again.

Florida’s a fine spot in the winter, but once April hits, I’m praying the Raptors are back where they belong and hopefully we’ll all be safely attending games again.