Remember when you couldn’t put that Raptors jersey Tampa deserves on your holiday wish list because it simply didn’t exist in real life?
Over the weekend, we started noticing ads for the Tampa Raptors jersey being sold by Wade + Williamson. The threads—with a sublimated design on moisture-wicking micromesh polyester—are a flip on the color scheme designer Luc Samanski used on his original mockup of the potential jersey for Tampa Bay’s new, temporary, NBA team, but the piece still sports the pink dino decked out in a Hawaiian-style shirt and shades.
In an email to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, a Wade + Williamson co-founder confirmed that Toronto-based Samanski was being compensated for his work.
“We absolutely fell in love with design, so we reached out to him to partner and establish the relationship,” Jake Wolpert wrote. Online, Wade + Williamson said it was only selling a limited quantity of the $50 jersey, but Wolpert added that the company was close to already selling out of the 250 pieces it initially ordered.
“Our plan was basically to ensure that everyone who wanted one got one, so we were going to sell them throughout the season until the interest dies down,” he said. “But we are going to continue to re order like I said, so there really is no issue in terms of volume.”
And in true Tampa Bay fashion, the jersey is not for fair weather fans.
On Dec. 23, the Raps—arguably the deepest, most well-balanced team in the NBA—opened their regular season at Amalie Arena and earned a very Tampeño 0-3 record (the Raps were 1-4 and 13th in the Eastern Conference as of press time).
What’s more is that they did not look great.
Toronto’s star player and no. 1 option offensively, Pascal “Spicy P” Siakam, is off to an incredibly inefficient start, averaging 18 points per game on 39% shooting from the field. Yeesh. And guess who has him on not one, but two fantasy basketball teams?
Norman Powell is starting to become a liability offensively, as he went 4-23 from the field through the first three games.
Fred VanVleet—who doesn’t get enough credit for his defense of Golden State’s Steph Curry in the 2019 NBA Finals—is not playing nearly as awful as Powell, but he certainly is not living up to that recent contract extension, as he is averaging 14 points per game on 36% shooting from the field, 60% from the free throw line and 32% from 3-point land to start the season.
Now, all of those guys are going to bounce back. Powell is an excellent and efficient perimeter scorer who will begin to shoot the ball much better, and as he starts to improve, so will the team. He can space the floor and create more space in the lane for Spicy P to do his thing, as with Powell shooting so poorly right now teams can clog the paint and not have to worry about Powell on that side of the floor. VanVleet is a much better shooter than he has shown in his first three games, and he will bounce back as well.
However, all of this poor play from three of Tampa, err, Toronto’s key contributors offensively adds up to the Raptors ranking dead last in both offensive rating and points per game. The team has looked lost and nothing like a playoff bound squad through these first three games. But, the good news is that the Raps got to play the New York Knicks on New Year’s Eve.
The Knicks are the butt of almost every basketball joke ever in the 21st century. With the Knicks’ struggles in pretty much every facet of the game, the Raptors unsurprisingly took out all of their frustrations with their subpar performance thus far on the poor, lowly Knicks.
Fear not, Raptors fans, this is certainly a much better team than what they have shone up to this point. It’s a long season, and it has only been a few games. Plus, they play in the Eastern Conference. They’ll get some cakewalk games to get things back on track.
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