Toronto sports fans are a different breed — and while we know how passionate a fan base we are part of, other cities, particularly in the United States, don’t get that.
Take the NBA, for instance. As the lone Canadian city in the league, even one with an NBA championship, it still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
But former Raptors centre Tyler Hansbrough shed light on just how much he loved Toronto during his time on the team.
Hansbrough, who played 138 games for the Raptors from 2013 to 2015, was a guest on the Run Your Race podcast and gushed about The Six.
“Toronto is the most underrated NBA city out there,” Hansbrough said.
“I tell people, man, Toronto’s the best city I’ve ever lived in,” he added. “It’s amazing.”
He explained: “Their fans are unbelievable, even when they suck, the sell out.”
Hansbrough continued: “They had some tough years there. I was laughing because when they got Kawhi (Leonard) I was like, ‘if they win this damn thing they’re gonna do the unthinkable.’”
In 2008, Hansbrough was the NCAA National Player of the Year and won a national championship with the University of North Carolina the following year.
He also played for the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets but it’s clear Toronto is where he enjoyed being the most.
“It’s just like a general thought (among the league) that Toronto may never win a championship because nobody wants to go back and forth through customs, it’s kind of a headache,” he added.
Hansbrough’s comments are consistent with disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy’s recent remarks about Toronto on the Dishes and Dimes podcast, Raptors Rapture reported.
Donaghy acknowledged that while Toronto is “fun,” the NBA would rather any other team take home a championship.
“It’s funny, when I was there anyway, when you saw Toronto on your schedule, you kind of cringed a little bit because there wasn’t much to do there,” Donaghy said. “It was kind of tough when you saw Vancouver or Toronto on your schedule … it is a fun and exciting city, but from a global attention, I don’t think the league is hoping they win too many more championships.”
Hansbrough believes otherwise, stating, “they don’t ever get the credit they deserve, because they’re in Canada,” adding that Toronto gets “overlooked” simply because people associate the NBA with the U.S.
“But their fans are amazing,” he gushed. “And I was pulling for them when they won [the 2019 NBA championship] because they have an amazing fan base. Great people. Great city. So yeah, it’s the most underrated NBA city out there now.”
Hansbrough averaged 4.2 points, four rebounds and 0.4 steals during his time on the Raptors.
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