With the worst plausible outcome out of the way, it is enjoyable to look to a more hopeful one. This is an idyllic result with plenty of warm and fuzzies for Raptors fans along the way.
In teasing fashion, Kawhi offers little in the way of Toronto love over the course of the first four regular-season contests. Canadian reporters and journalists band together to avoid pestering him about his off-court agenda. A #ShutUpStupidSteve campaign starts when Canadian media darling Steve Simmons refuses to let things be.
Upon a game-saving play, where Kawhi uses the extra inches of his right middle finger (the part where most fingers stop being fingers) to block an Andrew Wiggins’ layup attempt, Kawhi finally cracks a full-fledged smile. His teammates embrace him and Jack Armstrong toys with a new catch phrase, “Go-Go Gadget Fingaz!”
During the post-game kerfuffle, Kawhi dons a throwback purple dinosaur hat, emblematic of his long-awaited public embrace. At the next home game, Uncle Dennis sits alongside Drake whom he offers sage words about the importance of stability and family. The next week, Drake finds himself a winter girlfriend and proceeds to release hot fire all season long.
Danny Green hits so many game-winning shots during fourth quarters in the first half of the season he starts to check his invisible wristwatch a la Isaiah Thomas. He even straps the imaginary timepiece around his wrist as he checks into games.
Fred Vanvleet steadily improves on the prior season with confident play off the bench. After hitting back-to-back game winning threes, he subs into the fourth quarter for Green in a heated game versus the Pelicans. In what marks a show of palpable team chemistry, Danny hands Fred his very own make-believe ‘Danny-time’ wristwatch, symbolically passing the torch. Fred goes five for six down the stretch to seal the win.
Each post-game Nurse hands out his high-quality replica lightsaber to the top defensive performer. Kawhi or OG receive the desirable reward ninety percent of the time and mostly use the weapon to ward off annoying locker-room interviewers. Steven A. Smith heralds Nick Nurse as the Nerdy Phil Jackson. Nurse embraces the moniker by wearing increasingly larger frames over the course of the season.
When the Raptors visit San Antonio, the team is in the midst of a thirteen-game winning streak. Despite strong play from DeRozan, the Spurs have struggled to find their rhythm to this point. With the ball in hand and only seconds remaining in a tie-game, Kyle appears to whisper something to his old friend before fumbling the handle. DeMar snatches the rock and speeds in for a vicious game-winning dunk. Raptors fans are happy enough with the result despite the disbelieving moment. Nobody questions whether Kyle dropped the ball on purpose, though it is later revealed that Kyle’s favorite movie is A League Of Their Own.
Serge and Jonas step up as required, dropping so many double-doubles they co-star in a cheesy Tim Horton’s commercial. The advertisement is easily the worst thing that happens all season.
Pascal and Delon continue their reliable play and co-star in this season’s GoDaddy.com small business segment. Their pitch revolves around a line of Oui, Le Nord! Quebecois inclusivity products. The hoodies sell at a decent clip.
Toronto wins sixty-five games, finishing first in the east. They walk the Eastern bracket on the shoulders of unrelenting defense, losing only three games en route to the Finals. They lose in six games to the Warriors, but overpowering WE THE NORTH chants are a minor damper on Golden State’s post-game championship celebration. Faint OUI, LE NORD chants are audible if you listen closely. Kawhi commits to re-signing with the Raptors the next day.