In the moments before tipoff, Jonas Valanciunas likes to stand directly under the basket, tipping up missed balls as his teammates take target practice. He couldn’t do that on Sunday. There were four drunken bros sitting at the baseline, shrieking at him like schoolgirls on Benzedrine. “JONAS!!” they wailed. Valanciunas retreated to the perimeter looking rattled. Valanciunas wandered back to the bench to hide. Every time he touched the ball, they leapt to their feet hooting. They only had eyes for two things — Valanciunas and the courtside beer server. (They were eventually cut off.) Every time they jumped up and began howling like animals, the Raptors bench — about 15 feet away — couldn’t help but gawk. Kyle Lowry laughed, nudging Chuck Hayes to get a load of this. Terrence Ross, God bless him, was slack-jawed with disgust. Out on the court, basketball was happening. But at the end of every play, all heads on the bench and press row swiveled to get a load of what these clowns were going to do next. Afterward, they waited for Valanciunas to come off the court. Who were those guys? Valanciunas widened his eyes and ignored the question. The bros managed to get a picture with Dwane Casey. One of them had a half-dozen empty plastic beer glasses stacked in his back pocket. Coach, you know those guys? “No, no, no,” Casey said, alarmed at the connection. “They were the only people rooting for us here tonight.” Well, I’m not so sure about that. Hayes was talking to them. He’s a friendly guy. Also, they were calling in scores from the Kentucky-Michigan game. “They were from Orlando,” Hayes said. “They were just rooting for the guys on their fantasy team.” And here we thought we’d made a breakthrough. That’s really the last frontier for this Raptors team — spreading the word around the league.
Raptors keep fans happy with record road win in Orlando
Toronto Star | Mar 31