Jose Calderon is, arguably, one of the most beloved Toronto Raptor players in the history of the franchise. Fans have happily cheered him over the years, sometimes in spite of themselves and now he is finally coming back to the ACC for the first time as a member of the Detroit Pistons.
The crowd at the ACC hasn’t had much to look forward to lately as the Raptors continue to play out the rest of a lost season, but Jose’s return is definitely a reason to get excited. Fans understood the trade that sent him to Detroit and brought Rudy Gay to Toronto, but it was still very hard to say goodbye to a player that has called Toronto home for his entire NBA career.
Jose wasn’t always a fan favourite in Toronto. There were many times when it seemed he didn’t belong or would be better off somewhere else. But every time this fan base doubted Jose or put him down, he came right back and reminded us all of why he was such an important part of this franchise’s history.
When you think of the Toronto Raptors you can’t help but think of “Numero Ocho” and his “Jose fingers” every time he or one of his teammates hit a three pointer.
In a hockey town, he was an easy player to like. He worked hard, he involved his teammates, he was humble and never had a negative word to say to anybody or about anybody. There haven’t been many basketball players in this city that have left it all out on the floor the way Calderon did during his tenure here.
He was happy to involve the fans and loved getting the crowd fired up with a huge three pointer or big time pass at a crucial point in the game. The fans loved him right back.
Many of the current Raptors team hold him in very high regard and felt he was one of the easiest players to play with because he always got them the ball in a place they could score.
It wasn’t always rosy for Jose here in Toronto. Many times during his tenure he was counted out and not appreciated by fans, reporters and bloggers. During his various battles for minutes with point guards on his team fans pointed out the fact that he was a terrible defender, didn’t push the ball up the court and played the game “too safe” and “too slow”.
No matter who took over for Calderon at the point, every single point guard that came in was eventually replaced by Calderon. He was far too dependable and trustworthy for his coaches to hand the reins over to someone else. Poor defensive ability aside, the team was better when he was on the floor.
Fans didn’t always agree. Jose received his fair share of negativity over his tenure as a Raptor, but all of that will disappear when he returns on Monday night.
On Monday night the ACC will welcome Jose back the way he deserves to be. The crowd will be standing on their feet cheering the work and effort Jose has put in as a member of this team. Raptor fans love him and it appears from his letter to the fans, that the feeling is quite mutual. It is rare to find a player that misses a city as much as it misses him.
Jose came to Toronto in 2005 as an after thought. An under the radar free agent signing by then GM Rob Babcock. He was expected to maybe become the teams backup point guard, but most figured he’d be a 3rd point guard at best. He stayed the course, worked hard and earned the respect of his coaches. slowly he moved his way up, received more minutes and ultimately gave his coaches no choice but to start him.
Jose was a coaches dream. Whether it was Sam Mitchell, Jay Triano, or Dwane Casey all of his coaches loved working with him. He did what his coaches wanted and wasn’t afraid to take control when it was required. Eric Koreen of the National Post wrote a great piece on Calderon’s time playing for Sam Mitchell and the relationship they developed. His work ethic and ability to take criticism in stride made him easy to coach.
Young point guards coming into the league need to look at the example Jose Calderon has provided. If you work hard, put in the time and never quit, listen to your detractors and take criticism in stride, you can earn the chance to show what you can do.
At the ACC on Monday night the crowd will thank Jose for all he has done. At home, I will as well. Numero Ocho has been my favourite all time Raptor and it has been a pleasure to watch him play. Even though I will cheer tonight for the Raptors, as I always do, I hope Jose puts in a good game and hits a couple of threes. The crowd will be happy to see it.
Welcome home Jose!
The Zan Tabak Herald