By Frank McLean
Something you are going to see from time to time this season is the return of all the ex-Raptors that were either traded or did not have their contracts renewed after the club was swept four straight by the Washington Wizards in last season’s playoffs. Last Sunday it was the return of Greivis Vasquez, an all-time media favorite for us who have covered the team because he never turned down a postgame interview and always had an answer to whatever the members of the fifth estate had for him.
Vazquez became a Buck in an off season deal that brought to Toronto the rights to Norman Powell and a first round pick the Bucks had obtained from the Los Angeles Clippers. So as expected a rather larger than normal group of Toronto media surrounded Vazquez at his locker before Sunday’s contest.
It was so bad that the only member of the Milwaukee media in Toronto, Charles Gardiner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, barely survived from being squished by the sea of humanity as Vasquez admitted that it was hard to leave Toronto.
“It was hard extremely hard,” Vasquez explained. “I was so engaged with the city and the fans and with the team. It’s part of the business. You’ve got to move on real fast.”
Vasquez added that he was kind of expecting that he would be moved in the offseason.
“We really didn’t do a good job at the end of the season,” Vasquez said. “It was going to be either me or Lou (Williams) and it was both (plus) Amir (Johnson). It was tough because we had something really good. We were the number one team in the East for 61 days and everybody started expecting so much out of us. We didn’t fulfil those expectations and this happened. It was hard to swallow the whole thing. It’s a neat opportunity. I’m excited.”
So far things have not been “neat” as Vasquez put it for the Bucks.
The Bucks are still looking for their first win of the season after Sunday night’s loss to the Raptors 106-87. They started the season 0-3 which something they have not done since way back in 1976-77. The head coach at time Larry Costello lasted only 18 games into the campaign and was replaced by future hall of famer Don Nelson.
In 2015 the Bucks are coached by someone who will be in the hall of fame one day and that’s Jason Kidd. Kidd like Vasquez was a point guard who has was tall and Vasquez feels that playing for Kidd is the best part of now being a Milwaukee Buck.
“Obviously he beat us my first year here in Toronto (when Kidd coached the Brooklyn Nets),” Vasquez said. “Growing up he was obviously an idol of mine. Now he’s my coach. I’m really going to take advantage of that. I feel like that’s really going to benefit my game.”
Vasquez is just the first of a long line of former Raptors from the last couple of seasons making a return to the Air Canada Centre this year. It will be interesting to see the fans reaction when last year’s Sixth Man award winner Lou Williams and the Los Angeles Lakers come to town on December 7th.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.