by user

This season has been a trying one for Raptors fans. During training Sports Illustrated picked us to have the worst record in the League and then our team struggled out of the gate with a 1-15 record in November. Despite the rough start I’ve been writing all season about how this year’s team is stronger than last year’s team. Last year were blown out of games while this year we are losing nail biters at the buzzer. Last year we had to deal with players wanting out of town while this year we have a group of players that love to play with each other. This year we’ve managed to rid our team of all the head cases from last season and are now left with a young and talented team that loves to play together. Despite having one of the worst records in the league we are now 25 and 50 since November. Throw in the fact that we are just 1-9 in overtime games and it’s clear that this team is on the verge of becoming a playoff team. If this group of players can stick together there’s reason for optimism about our chances of becoming a playoff team sooner rather than later.

Things aren’t going nearly as well for Blazers fans.

The Blazers are in a similar situation as the Raptors in that they were trying to build for the future with young players but the problem for Blazers fans is that the team is stocked with selfish player. Problems with egos, playing time and shot attempts are causing a lot of problems in the locker room and on the court during games.

Monday afternoon their star big man, Joel Pryzbilla, reached his breaking point and complained about the way that egos have eroded Portland’s once promising season.

"When the season is over, it's going to be a big decision for me, and a lot is going to be determined by what team they bring back," Przybilla told the Oregonian this week. "Because I'm telling you, this is tough, it's real tough. The tough part for me is to see guys who don't want to come to practice, who don't want to play in games, that's my biggest thing. Personally, I have no problem playing because I want to play, no matter what. But to see other guys -- I don't know if it's giving up or what -- but we have to finish the season strong. It's our job, we have to be professional, and I don't know if everyone is doing that.”

Any discussion of Pryzbilla joining the Raptors this summer was quickly shot down a couple of months ago because of his loyalty to the Blazers franchise. Now that there’s a chance he could bolt Portland this summer I’m once again enamored with the idea of him playing for Toronto. He’s a 7-foot-1 centre that’s happy blocking shots and grabbing rebounds and he doesn’t command plays to be run for him in an offense. Instead, he’s happy getting his points within the flow of the game. This makes him a perfect fit for the Raptors because he would provide us an anchor in the middle that would be happy deferring on offense to Chris Bosh, Charlie Villanueva and Morris Peterson while doing the dirty on defense that we need to win the close games that we’ve been losing.

Raptors fans have started to become frustrated with losses in close games but I want to reassure them that the team is on the right track. We have a strong nucleus to build around in Bosh, Peterson and Villanueva and Bryan Colangelo will have a lottery pick and over $10 million to spend this summer on free agents. Portland on the other hand has a lottery pick and a team full of headaches.

Even if we don’t sign Pryzbilla this summer, I have faith in Colangelo that he will be able to add the right free agent to make Toronto a playoff team.

Just remember Raptors fans, things could be worse - we could have the Jail Blazers to cheer for.


Fri 03/31/06, 4:45 am EST

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