Unless of course, it involves watching sports.
That’s still true today, since weekend mornings are reserved for my daughter Abbileen and I to watch Premier League games. Plus, since she is almost a year old, waking up early is one of the things she does best.
When I was a younger though, it was strictly reserved for those times when the Raptors would make trips out west and I would have to tape games and wake up extra early before school started at Prince Albert P.S. to watch games in their entirety.
Showing just how far media has come since those early days of the Raptors, it’s important to remember that 20 years ago, PVRs were still years away and virtually no one had a satellite. If you lived in the country, you had to use your VCR to record antenna TV. Luckily, almost every Raptors game was broadcast on ‘The New VR’ so I was set.
As with any expansion team a lot of the time those early games were painful to watch. Over the course of that first season, they had seven different losing streaks of at least four games. Two years later, was the low point for the franchise and somehow they were even worse, finishing with a 16-66 record.
But to me, the results didn’t really matter. What mattered most is that Toronto finally had an NBA team of its own.
Last week was the 20th anniversary of the Raptors’ first-ever game, on Friday, Nov. 3, 1995 when they beat the New Jersey Nets 94-79 before more than 33,000 fans at Skydome. Throughout the course of that first year, they’d only win 20 more games, but the Raptors beat both teams that made it to the Finals that year, Chicago and Seattle.
There haven’t been a lot of great memories of the Raptors, and for some, they’ll look back on those early days in a cavernous baseball stadium as a lowlight. And to be fair, even with the McDonald concession stands, it was far from an appropriate basketball venue. I remember renting binoculars to get a better view of the game from the 500 level, where I would sit for several games those first few seasons. Maple Leaf Gardens would’ve been much more suitable in theory, but I was in attendance for a game between the Lakers and Raptors at the Gardens that would be best described as sweltering. But to me, it didn’t matter where they were playing; at that age, I would’ve watched a Raptors game played on a garbage barge.
However, I’ll always look back on those Skydome years with great memories that you can only have of things that happened when you’re 12, and aren’t jaded by traffic, deafening music, high concession prices and everything else that comes with attending pro sporting events once you get a little older. Now, I dream that one day tickets will cost $5 at Shopper’s like they did in those early days and look forward to crafting all sorts of sports memories with my daughter.