CLEVELAND – These Raptors want to make it clear they are not extinct.
Making their first appearance in the NBA’s Eastern Conference final, the Raptors are feeling a little left out after they were slighted in an online poll in advance of their matchup with the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.
CBSSports.com ran a survey asking, “Who will win the NBA title?”
The options: Warriors, Thunder, Cavaliers, Other.
The snub led to a backlash from Toronto fans, who responded on Twitter with the hashtag (hash)WeTheOther, playing off the team’s “We the North” campaign.
Also, Toronto Mayor John Tory snapped to the team’s defense on social media, posting a letter he wrote to CBS Sports.
Tory wrote, “We are not the slightest bit offended. In fact, we’re accustomed to being underestimated. Just a few days ago, LeBron James said he was looking forward to playing the Heat – a team that is now golfing. Dwyane Wade thought he could take practice shots during our national anthem. Well we showed him how we feel about that.”
The Raptors beat Wade and the Heat in Game 7 on Sunday to earn a shot at the Cavs, who are overwhelming favorites after going 8-0 so far in the postseason.
At the team’s morning shootaround, most of Toronto’s players took the snub in stride.
“We’ve been underrated for forever,” said forward DeMarre Carroll. “I feel the country of Canada has been underrated forever, so it’s no different. I think this team, we’ve got a chip on our shoulder.”
On Monday, CBS Sports NBA Twitter posted an explanation, saying the poll was posted before Game 7 and “Raptors/Heat wouldn’t fit! We love you, Canada!”
It’s nothing new to the Raptors, who have felt overlooked for years.
“I see it all,” guard DeMar DeRozan said. “It’s never going to stop with us, no matter what we do, no matter how far we go. We just have to get all the way to the mountain top and maybe even then they’ll come up with an excuse for us. I’ve been dealing with it for seven years. The best part I get out of it is being able to say we’re standing here still playing.”
Tory concluded his letter to CBS with a playful prediction.
“Please don’t hesitate to have your people call my office to get prime camera positions for the parade after The Toronto Raptors win the NBA Championship,” he said. “We will mark their space as ‘other.’ ”
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