Toronto’s Aron Baynes is an NBA cult hero Tampa Raptors fans should embrace

I mean, he’s an Australian dude with a crazy fan club.

click to enlarge Toronto’s Aron Baynes is an NBA cult hero Tampa Raptors fans should embrace

Aron Baynes is not the most famous player in the NBA. For a Bucs comparison, he probably has as much name recognition as Cameron Brate.

For serious basketball fans, Aron Baynes is that crazy Australian dude with a fan club on Twitter. He’s a solid, hard-working big man who can provide decent backup minutes to a contending team, but not someone who warrants intense scrutiny.

His season—much like the rest of the Raptors campaign—has started off pretty slow. His shooting numbers have taken an 11% drop, and his rebound numbers are slightly down, despite playing four more minutes per game. But that’s no problem for the @baynesfanclub Twitter page, which has close to 75,000 followers. 

Sporting News says the page was started by an anonymous Boston Celtics fan back in 2019, back when Baynes was playing for the disappointing Celtics. Boston was experiencing something of an identity crisis, with a star point guard in Kyrie Irving who seemed uninterested in playing basketball by the end of the season. 

Enter Baynes, a hard-working, well-liked center who keeps his head down and does his thing. He began his professional career in Europe, following a successful college career at Washington State. Baynes eventually latched onto the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, winning a ring in 2014 after a season filled with trips up and down from the Spurs’ G-League team, the then-Austin Toros (now the Spurs). After a couple uneventful seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Baynes found himself in Boston. He spent a couple seasons in Beantown before the fan club started, and a legend was born, all because a Celtics fan loved Baynes’ demeanor on the bench and his hard-working play style.

Never mind that Baynes was let go by the Celtics and signed with the Suns the following season. The Twitter profile followed the bearded big man, changing the profile’s picture to one of Baynes in a Suns uniform. 

Now? The profile is obsessed with the Raptors and Baynes’ performances now as a starter. The Twitter page’s username is “Unofficial tAronto Baynes Fan Club,” with its header being a screenshot from one of the recent Jurassic Park movies with Baynes’ face photoshopped over Chris Pratt’s while the center is surrounded by… well, Raptors. 

Despite the emergence of Chris Boucher as an incredible option for the Raptors, Baynes has maintained his starting role through his gritty work inside (plus, as the Twitter account pointed out, Baynes outscored Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant in the Raptors-Nets matchup last week, leaving no mention of Durant’s weirdly limited playing time due to COVID restrictions). Hopefully his shooting numbers can return back to last year’s average, which was around 35% from deep.

At least he can depend on the BaynesFanClub.

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