A normal person wouldn't be sitting in the middle of their University's library dressed from head to toe in Toronto Raptors attire.
And so, here I am, counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until tip off.
It's been a LONG time since that fateful Sunday at the beginning of May. Falling behind. The relentless climb back into fold. Foul trouble. Wonky ankles. Kyle Lowry's determination. Terrence Ross showing he was a 22 year old NBA sophomore in his first NBA Playoffs, let alone his first NBA game 7. Amir Johnson fouling out. More relentless determination. More chipping away at the (*uck) Brooklyn Nets' lead. A turnover. Another turnover. Being down 1 point. A Ross inbound miracle! And, finally, a Lowry drive.
You know the rest.
Fast forward to today, where the Raptors embark on their most anticipated season since Vince Carter was around to electrify the Air Canada Centre crowd. The most potent backcourt in the Association, DeMar DeRozan and Lowry, are back, both potential All Stars. Amir Johnson is coming off an offseason filled with relaxation and treatment of those aforementioned wonky ankles. Ross and Jonas Valanciunas, now third year NBAers, enter the fray with a boatload of playoff experience (and mild success, in Valanciunas' case). The bench, led by Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, looks stronger than it has ever been during the history of the Drakes.
One of the most overreported aspects of the 2014/15 Toronto Raptors is the team's continuity. The top-7 in the Drakes' rotation are all back. The bench got a lot deeper with Lou WIlliams the once-exiled James Johnson back in the fold to stabilize the Raptors when the Joe Johnsons of the NBA world begin to dominate.
One of the most underreported aspects of this Toronto Drakes season is the continuity of the coaching staff. Dwane Casey has been re-upped for three more years, and officially will become the 2nd longest serving Raptors coach in its history. When you look around the league, you can see the most successful teams of the past decade usually have a stable presence at the forefront of their coaching staffs: Popovich in San Antonio, Carlisle in Dallas, Thibideau in Chicago, Spoelstra in Miami, to name a few. The Raptors have never had that consistent message delivered to them in their existence.
Hours before tip-off, I can't help but feel excited. Last year, a confluence of factors had to break right for the Raptors to win the Atlantic Division title and the 3rd seed in the weak Eastern Conference.
This year, after many, they are finally built for success.There are legitimate expectations.
Raptor tag on my hat. Number 10 on my back. First day jitters abound.