COMMENTARY | For an assortment of reasons, the Toronto Raptors have gotten the rep of being a soft team.
Maybe it was the European experiment that Bryan Colangelo ushered into Toronto shortly into his tenure as general manager.
It could have started with drafting Andrea Bargnani and then how the team proceeded to coddle him.
Regardless of the reason, Toronto is a hockey town that has embraced players who have a hockey mentality. Perfect examples of this is how Charles Oakley, Jorge Garbajosa, Quincy Acy and Reggie Evans were embraced by fans here in Toronto because they play the game of basketball with a chip on their shoulders and appeared to have a hockey mentality.
It turns out the new general manager Masai Ujiri feels adding toughness to the roster is an important aspect to creating a winning basketball culture here in Toronto.
"I'm tired of all this," Ujiri vented to the media this week. "People come here and everybody calls the team soft or calls the team pushovers or all these stupid names they have mentioned. You come to Canada and you come to play. That's the identity we are trying to build here. In Canada this is our team and we're going to be tough out there."
Stone is a tough, defensive-minded point guard that will use his size (6'7") to bully opponents. Hansbrough is no stranger to being a bully on the court as he has earned the rep of being a pest and a player who gets under the skin of opponents.
While signing Stone and Hansbrough aren't flashy moves, it's clear the Raptors have had enough flash the past few seasons. Getting rid of a player like Bargnani who appeared allergic to play defense or rebounding while adding two physical players in Stone and Hansbrough look to be the right direction for the franchise to be headed.
Ryan McNeill lives in Toronto and has been covering the Toronto Raptors with media passes since the 2007-08 season. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.