In a season that's seen so many players sidelined by injuries, it's worth taking a moment to celebrate when a fallen star actually comes back to the fold. So you'll forgive us for taking a minute or two this Monday morning to smile at the Sunday afternoon return of The Raptor, the Toronto Raptors' beloved mascot, some 5 1/2 months after tearing his/her/its Achilles tendon, whose first appearance of the 2013-14 NBA season came during a break in the action as the Raptors took on the Atlanta Hawks at the Air Canada Centre:
You'll note that Stripes, the "understudy" who's taken on the difficult task of filling in for The Raptor during the lengthy rehabilitation, gave The Raptor a big hug in honor of the return. That's a little thing called class, kids.
And lest you forgot how much Torontonians love the bright red mascot, check out the front page of Monday's edition of the Toronto Star:
Early look at the Star's front page for Monday. pic.twitter.com/aDdSr2NNWC
This is why the much-discussed rebrand of the Raptors franchise, helmed by global ambassador Drake, seems like it could be a dicey proposition; man, everyone loves that Raptor. (Well, except for Robin Lopez.)
When The Raptor went down before the start of the season, Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan came just shy of dedicating the season to him: "We’ve got to [win] for The Raptor. If we ain’t got him out there, we’ve got to do it for him.” It should come as no surprise, then, that DeRozan had 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, joining backcourt partner Kyle Lowry (13 of his game-high 25 in the final frame) to lead the Raptors to a come-from-behind 96-86 win over the Hawks in celebration of The Raptor's return. Toronto now sits at 39-30, a half-game up on the Chicago Bulls in the race for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. It's unlikely any postseason contender's going to add as important a piece this late in the season as Dwane Casey's club did on Sunday; this is wonderful news for right-thinking NBA fans everywhere. (Sorry, RoLo.)
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