I’m in a quagmire, a quandary, a mid-state scrum if you will. So, I turn to you and ask, what is a dedicated roundball fan to do?
Thanks wholeheartedly to coronavirus, the NBA has announced that the Toronto Raptors will open its 2020-21 season playing its home games right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Albeit a great sports town, in my experience, Tampa doesn’t care all that much for basketball (present company obviously excluded).
Football? Of course, we love our football! It’s the south, daggummit!
Hockey? You better believe your sweet ass we like our hockey! #GoBolts
Baseball? Tampa’s baseball roots run a century deep. While perennially struggling to draw fans, however, one would think the Rays’ recent run at a World Series title would help attendance figures moving into next year… assuming we’re ever allowed through the gates again.
But basketball? Orlando has dominated the Central Florida basketball landscape. Two NBA Finals appearances, a generally competitive team, some major star power over the past few decades. Heck, only a few seasons ago, they built themselves a brand, new arena.
Orlando has been parceled the NBA while Tampa Bay got the other three major sports. That’s how it’s been for quite some time. In thirty days, that’s about to change which leaves me with a decision to make.
I’ve rooted for the Orlando Magic basically since their inception in 1989. It wasn’t long afterwards that they landed back-to-back number one draft picks in Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway. The rest is history. From the Nick Anderson days to Darrell Armstrong’s Heart and Hustle to Tracy McGrady’s scoring barrage to the franchise’s second run at an NBA Finals with Dwight Howard, the Magic have been my NBA team.
And now, they’re putting one right in my backyard, a hop, skip and a jump from where I work. I’m a sucker for some NBA marketing, they know just how to sell to my kind. With all the rumors of the Tampa Bay Rays playing half a season in Montreal, what’s to say I can’t pilfer a little NBA from the Great White North to call my own?
But is this wrong? Is my fandom suddenly for rent? It goes without saying that I’m cheap and easy but what if I pledge allegiance (ironically to a team from Canada) and they move back home after half a season?
This is clearly a temporary fix. Everyone expects the Raptors to return to Toronto once Canada decides they like Americans again. But what if they’re using this as a test market and Tampa proves they can support a team… and then lands one?
Aren’t I supposed to root for the NBA to set up shop right here in my home town? Would it be wrong to support a team just to watch them use me and leave? Can I root for both Tampa and Orlando on an interim basis? What happens when they play each other? Is there a grace period where I can bigamously root for both?
Furthermore, how will the league and the Raptors market this temporary Tampa experience? I’m sure they’ll want to promote the NBA moving into another city… but not do so too well for the last thing they’ll want is Toronto to lose theirs, which I don’t believe is in jeopardy of happening but go tell that to the good people of Seattle.
If you believe in the principle of one-person/one-vote, and what God-fearing American doesn’t, wouldn’t supporting this venture as avidly as possible amongst me and my kinfolk increase the likelihood of the NBA setting up shop in Tampa for good? As a Tampa resident, wouldn’t I want that?
The Magic have been a reliable ride over the years. They may not get to over 65 mph on the highway very often but every once in a while, they take you on a fun trip. The Raptors, however, are two seasons removed from a title. While they no longer have the superstar player that got them there, they’re still a solid team.
So, when Orlando comes to town and plays the Tampa Raptors, what am I to do, knowing that I’ll cheer for the Magic but want the Raptors to succeed and draw a fan base?
As you can see, I’m mightily confused and need your help in these matters. Any advice would be helpful.
Magically and Jurassically Conflicted,