It might not have been obvious or maybe everyone just has a short term memory, but prior to last season, the Raptors organization’s ability to connect with their fans was kind of hit and miss.
The success of the team last season, the excitement of Jurassic Park in Maple Leaf Square during the playoffs, Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri accidentally saying ‘Fcuk Brooklyn’ – it just slipped – all helped re-connect Toronto fans with their team in a way that hadn’t been seen previously and at level not present since Vince Carter left town.
However, the question remained, would this organization slide backwards after the season ended or would it continue to find ways to embrace their fans this summer and beyond?
Re-signing Kyle Lowry in and of itself went a long ways towards keeping the Raptors connection with their fan base going. Ujiri’s focus on continuity and quickly re-claiming his own restricted free agents Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez meant fans could have hope that last season’s progress wouldn’t be lost.
Then the team decided to share in the excitement by opening up the event where their freshly re-signed star player would be presented to the local media as the Raptors encouraged fans to attend the Kyle Lowry News Conference and they held it at Real Sports Bar and Grill in Maple Leaf Square.
Now that was a press conference with a difference. It isn’t often cheers have been heard at a Raptors press conference.
Kyle Lowry Press Conference audio:
The Raptors have started down this road before, giving their fans those important extra reasons to connect with their team, but they haven’t kept it up in the past. This time, however, it feels different. From the outspoken and extremely confident MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke to the emotional and easy to relate to GM Masai Ujiri, the Raptors leave the impression that there will be more events like the Kyle Lowry press conference.
The Raptors seem to have figured out that if you want your fans to embrace your team, the team has to embrace their fans first.