Raptors have failed to grow fan base

Steve Buffery -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

The Raptors have really dropped the ball on a golden opportunity to win new fans in the Toronto market. With the Leafs locked out, the Raptors are the only major-league game in town.

But with a 7-16 record heading into last night's game against the powerful Minnesota Timberwolves and a star player who has asked for a trade, the Raps have dropped the ball, so to speak.

After nine home games, the Raps are averaging 17,090. Last season, Toronto averaged 18,308 at the Air Canada Centre, eighth in the league.

So instead of gaining fans, the Raps are actually on the downward trend.

CONNECTIONS ARE EVERYTHING

There are numerous Raptors-Timberwolves court connections, such as:

Raptors GM Rob Babcock spent 12 seasons with the Wolves, most recently as VP of player personnel. Head coach Sam Mitchell signed his first NBA contract with Minnesota in 1989. Toronto head scout Bob Zuffelato was an assistant coach with the Wolves during the 1989-90 season.

And this one gem from last night's game notes: "Raptors PR Director Jim LaBumbard ruled the Minnesota franchise with an iron fist for eight years in a media relations capacity before moving north of the border."

QUICK STATS

The Raptors rank first in the NBA in rebounding percentage (47%), is 28th in opponent offensive rebounding average, 29th in opponent defensive rebounding and 30th overall in opposition rebounding. Of the 23 games the Raps have played heading into last night's game, the Raptors have been out-rebounding by their opponents 18 times.


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