Confessions of a Cautiously Optimistic Maple Leafs Fan

I’ve said before that I may have come out of the womb wearing a Leafs jersey. I stand by it. My mother is a staunch Maple Leafs fan, despite the fact that she was only a baby the last time they won the Stanley Cup. Fortunately (or unfortunately) she passed that fandom on to me.

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An Open Letter to the Toronto Raptors

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To our dearest basketball team on home opening day,

I still remember when you came into the lives of us Torontonians. You managed to capture my attention- not an easy feat given that I was a hyper six-year-old who thought baseball and hockey were the only noteworthy sports. To be honest, I’m pretty sure you sucked. If I went and checked the stats, I’m pretty sure I would be proven right.

You continued to struggle for the next few years and I lost some interest. When you played their final game at the Skydome (which I still refuse to call the Rogers Centre to this day),  my little 10-year-old heart broke because the Skydome was (and still is) one of my favourite places on earth.  But for the grace of Vince Carter, I stayed a fan despite the heartbreak. He brought a new hope to fans and was highly regarded as the reason why the Raptors made the playoffs. We were cautiously optimistic- could we finally have a winning team in Toronto? The high wouldn’t last. Bosh brought back some of the buzz but it soon became clear that the Raptors brand was losing some fans. Over the years,  the Raptors faded somewhat into the background

Then, something changed and the Raptors brand was reborn. “We the North” became a new phenomenon. Celebrities like Drake brought the Raptors back into the forefront of Canadian minds. Jurrasic Park became a household name. I became a basketball fan again.

The movement spread beyond Toronto. Fans across Canada picked up on the Raptor fever. It probably helped that you were (and still are) the only remaining Canadian NBA team. It most definitely helped that you were making the playoffs. Names like Carter and Bosh were replaced by DeRozan and Lowry. We went from a team faded in the background to a playoff ready team. Though we have yet to secure a playoff win, the hopes are high that this is our year.

All of this brings us to tonight. The buzz is louder than ever as you embark on what is primed to be another amazing season. Just listening to the pre-coverage, everyone has such respect and faith in you this season. All the talk of the changing culture and strong players have hyped you up. Now it’s up to you.

Your city has faith in you. Your country has faith in you. You have faith in you. We aren’t just behind you. We are beside you cheering you on. Remember that tonight and on every other game night this season.

#WeTheNorth, North over everything.

With Much Love and Well Wishes,

Your fans