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What we miss most about Raptors games in Toronto

Alex Wong
·5-min read

The Raptors will not be playing at Scotiabank Arena this season. The official announcement came from the team last week, confirming they will spend the rest of the 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay.

"It’s unfortunate that the world is in this situation, but as professionals and as men we have to do our job," said Kyle Lowry. "We would love to be home. We would love to be in front of our fans and it sucks that we can’t be. The connection is still there. We understand they still follow us on social media and all those things.”

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 25:  Singer Drake high fives Matt Thomas #21 of the Toronto Raptors during the first half of an NBA game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena on February 25, 2020 in Toronto, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Drake had become a fixture courtside at Toronto Raptors home games and we can't wait until it's safe for the rap star to return to his familiar seat at Scotiabank Arena. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

We’re approaching the one year anniversary of Toronto’s last home game at Scotiabank Arena, which took place on February 28th, 2020, a 99-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The earliest we’ll see the Raptors on their home court will be the start of next season.

This is what we miss most about Raptors games in Toronto.

Yuta Watanabe having his own cheering section.

There’s no doubt he would have been a fan favourite at Scotiabank Arena this season (with DeAndre’ Bembry a close second). You know what I miss? Fan signs. We’re missing out on some many great Yuta Watanabe fan signs.

REF YOU SUCK! REF YOU SUCK!

Even a temporary move to the United States and the introduction of a Canadian NBA referee has not stopped the league’s grand conspiracy against the Raptors this season. Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry a.k.a. every NBA ref’s worst nightmare, has been working the officials throughout the year, to no avail. Nurse even admitted last week he needed to chill out on all the complaining and bring more positive energy to the whole situation. One thing you could always count on during Raptors home games was the obligatory “ref you suck” chant that would break out in the 300-level and quickly spread across the entire arena (as I’m writing this sentence I realize these are the wrong choice of words given the times we’re living in). The chant was the most reliable thing next to Lowry drawing a charge with 7:55 left in the first quarter.

The fans demanding for Matt Thomas to check into the game.

Okay, this one is just me.

The familiarity of Herbie Kuhn’s voice during home games.

The Raptors PA announcer is literally a day one guy, and while Will Lou and I like to poke fun at the ridiculous accents he gives to foreign players on Run It Back (watch our show please), I’ve found myself missing the excitement that comes with his voice after a huge Raptors basket. Just take me back to the days of Herbie imploring the fans to stand up and clap during every playoff game.

Kyle Lowry’s signature warm-up routine.

To my knowledge this isn’t happening in Tampa this year. Regardless, Lowry’s pre-game routine where all his teammates turn into Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod in front of a sold-out crowd is a key part to every Raptors game that we’re missing right now. Also think about all the LOWRY! LOWRY! LOWRY! chants we’re missing. And also the fact we might have potentially watched Lowry’s final game in Toron—and this sentence has been cut off because we’re not entertaining that possibility just yet.

No courtside Drake.

I mean, look at this photo.

Danny Green won’t get his championship ring for another season.

Would Danny have accepted his championship ring in an empty Scotiabank Arena during the second half of the regular season if the Raptors did make it home? We’ll never know. We’re missing out on all the reunions. Marc Gasol. Serge Ibaka (maybe it’s best we don’t see Kawhi and Serge together). Jonas Valanciunas. All of them will have to wait a bit longer for their standing ovation.

Playoff t-shirts.

I miss playoff giveaway t-shirts. Bring back the angry snowball shirts, I miss them all.

No home court advantage in the playoffs.

I’m not sure how much of a home court advantage would have been for the Raptors even if they were playing in an empty Scotiabank Arena, but I’m sure being able to sleep at home is better than living in Tampa temporarily for six months. The Raptors will have gone two seasons without hosting a playoff game by the end of this year. The last playoff game at Scotiabank Arena was Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

It’s been a strange year for everyone. Here’s hoping the Raptors have a successful second half of the season on and off the court in Tampa Bay and return home safely for the 2021-22 season.

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