So this past week a Youtube video from the Lithuanian All-Star game was spread around the internet. It showed Jonas Valanciunas slam dunking an alley oop dunk off the backboard and then dressing up like a wizard and romping around the stadium.
It obviously reached the Twitterverse around these parts and has revved up Raptors fans for the future.
This Jonas guy is coming to Toronto next year. Fans are pumped up. I mean he made the All-Star game in Lithuania with Sonny Weems by his side and has been a force this season despite modest averages. He is averaging 8 points and 6 rebounds, but has had games where he has just gone off.
He was the toast of Lithuania this past week when he went off for 25 points at the All Star game and dressed up like a wizard or Gandolf from Lord of the Rings and hammed it up for the crowd in attendance. He also played really well in the game and is giving fans of the Lithuanian National team something to be excited about as we get closer to the Olympics.
In Toronto, we are excited too.
He is causing Raptor fans to talk, blog and actually get excited about their team in a season where there isn’t much else to cheer about.
Shouldn’t the people at MLSE, those shiny new Rogers/Bell ownership team, do something to help the fan base trumpet Jonas’s imminent arrival?
Shouldn’t Bryan Colangelo create a countdown clock like Chris Jericho used to debut in the WWE all those years ago?
Maybe he could “hatch” out of an egg on the last day of the regular season? or have his Gandolf video shown on the large screen during breaks in play.
If nothing else show clips of his play in Lithuania set to the music of Vanilla Ice?
Why not milk the excitement and turn these final few months into an exciting time when Raptors fans can get excited about what is to come? It’s not like we are going to have a playoff drive to look forward to. Might as well celebrate his imminent arrival while singing “Ice, Ice, Baby”.
The team is playing really well right, looking every bit like a team that could contend for a playoff spot in the next year or two. Optimism is all around the team right now. Why not use the excitement of Jonas’s play overseas to keep the positive vibes going. The positive energy the team creates now may help fans through the pain of a losing season and another year without playoff basketball.
The Raptors brass need to create a positive vibe surrounding the team and Jonas is a reason to get excited. He’s a young player playing very well and will come in and fill a position of need next year. Let’s use his strong season to create positive energy surrounding the team.
Then again, the hype machine may put too much unnecessary pressure on Jonas. He may not need any more attention than he is already likely to get when he arrives. Maybe that’s too much to put on him this early in the game.
But it’s something to get excited about dammit! We haven’t had enough of that this year.
While New York has exploded in LinSanity and LA basks in the glory of CP3 and Blake Griffin, we don’t have that “wow” factor to get fans pumped about next year. Even Minnesota, a place where excitement is always hard to find, have Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to enjoy.
Bargnani has played well and Derozan has also; in spurts. The Johnson’s are doing alright and there seems to be quite a bit of money to spend this coming year. That is positive.
Why not add some anticipation for a rising star. At this year’s All-Star game in Orlando, the Raptors did not have a single player in the game or the Rising Stars game. That will all change next year as the Raps will add Jonas and at least one more 1st round pick. Having him involved in some sort of promotion is going to get the fans thinking about the future.
As a team about to finish near the bottom of the league again, that kind of thinking is what you want from fans. It’s what brings them back and gets them buying tickets.
Maybe the subtle approach is the best one to take. Show his Gandolf video at the ACC a few times. Mention his name on air more frequently. Maybe even have him appear at the ACC during halftime or at a break, hand out some prizes to contestants. Maybe even show some clips from Lietuvos Rytas games.
Whatever the Raptors PR people decide to do (and honestly they don’t really need to do much) the fans deserve to celebrate this kid’s arrival. they deserve to get excited in a way that differs from looking up Lithuanian basketball videos on Youtube.
Toronto wants to celebrate something awesome and Jonas can help us do that.
And thanks to his Gandolf costume we already know what the ACC will be chanting when he comes up with a big block next year.
“Thou Shalt Not Pass”!!!
Jonas Valanciunas is certainly getting Raptor fans excited for next year, but he could be exciting the entire fan base with a little more push from the organization.
We need something to get excited about because we can really already start thinking about next year. Jonas, A first rounder, improved play from Bargnani, Derozan and the Johnsons, plus a bunch of capspace.
That is a recipe that Bryan Colangelo will be asked to turn into success. His job likely depends on it.
The Zan Tabak Herald