On Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors go head to head with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Their appearance in Tuesday’s game will make franchise history. This is the first time the Toronto team has made it this far, but apparently that doesn’t seem to be impressive enough for the folks over at CBS Sports.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports issued an online poll encouraging fans to vote for which team they thought would win the NBA Finals. The poll’s options listed the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder (who are currently battling it out in the Western Conference Finals); the Cleveland Cavaliers; and “Other” – presumably referring to the Toronto Raptors.
Bemused and outraged, fans took to Twitter to speak out against the snub, creating the hashtag #WeTheOther, a play on the Raptors’ slogan #WeTheNorth.
Such a snub is nothing new for the Toronto Raptors. Not considered worthy enough by the basketball world to garner even ridicule, they have been largely ignored and dismissed by a league that has branded them the underdogs. The media openly speculated about what a Cleveland Cavaliers versus Miami Heat match-up would be like in the midst of the series between the Heat and the Raptors. We all know how that series ended.
When asked by a reporter how he felt about facing his former teammate, Dwyane Wade, in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James expressed his eagerness for the opportunity.
“Throughout my whole career I’ve always wanted to go against Wade in a playoff series. We’ve always talked about it even before we became teammates in ’10…It’s crossed my mind throughout my whole career.”
In fairness, James was responding to the media’s inquiries, but his answer suggested a rather remiss attitude towards the fact that there was the chance he could be facing the Toronto Raptors instead. An attitude CBS apparently adopted when drafting their poll.
When asked a similar question about James, Wade sagely responded, “You talk to me if we get four wins in this series [against the Raptors], and I’ll answer that question.”
Despite his tactful answer, the Heat shooting guard also displayed thoughtlessness towards not only the Toronto Raptors, but the Canadian population as a whole, before Game 3 of the series against the team. Wade was blasted on social media for continuing to take practice shots during the Canadian national anthem, which is played out of respect for the Raptors as the only Canadian franchise in the NBA.
In response to the criticism, CBS tweeted that the poll had been created before the Raptors defeated the Miami Heat, suggesting that “Raptors/Heat” didn’t fit on the poll. CBS has since removed the tweet.
This flaky social media post was clearly not enough of an explanation for Toronto Mayor John Tory, who tweeted an open letter on City of Toronto stationary schooling the chairman of CBS Sports, Sean McManus.
In it, he informs CBS’s Mr. McManus that the city is not at all offended and points out the poetic justice the Miami Heat faced, writing, “Just a few days ago LeBron James said he was looking forward to playing the Heat – a team that is now golfing. Dwyane Wade thought he could take practice shots during our national anthem. Well we showed him how we feel about that.”
The Toronto mayor then goes on to remind the CBS chairman from which country basketball originated and proceeds to invite CBS to come and set up their cameras to capture the “parade after the Toronto Raptors win the NBA Championship.” Toronto, Tory writes, “will mark their space as “other.”
Whether the Toronto Raptors will prevail against the formidable James and the Cavaliers remains to be seen. In fairness, the Raptors did manage to hold their own against the Cavs during the season beating the Cleveland team twice. Then again, both teams won in their respective cities, which puts the Cavs at an advantage during the Eastern Conference Finals since they will have the most home games.
The Toronto Raptors play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
[Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images]