Feb 22, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7) looks on from the bench against the New York Knicks at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Are Toronto Raptors Fans Justified In Booing Andrea Bargnani?

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I’m not going to sit here and try to tell fans of the Toronto Raptors what to do. As someone who has worked as an employee of the team, to now covering them on a daily basis, I’ve certainly seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows for this franchise.

I wasn’t entirely sure what category former number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani fell under. Is he a complete bust? Am I just looking for any reason to hate him? Maybe he was never as good as I thought he could be.

It’s frustrating to say the least. Raptors fans aren’t cynical people. We all want him to succeed.

Unfortunately, he’s doing anything but that.

And that’s why he’s getting booed.

I used to be of the mindset that booing any player on the home team on their home court was as wrong as wrong could be. They’re your guys. They wear your colors. You can boo anyone on the opposing team all you want, but on your own team? That’s not right.

I’ve changed my stance a bit. I’ve been waiting for Bargnani to turn the corner and show some signs of improvement since returning from injury. I figured coming off the bench would be the shot in the arm he needed, as playing against second-unit guys is a far cry from having to defend and compete against full-time starters.

Nothing has changed. Not only is he not producing from a numbers standpoint, but his lethargic play and lack of urgency on the court continue to be an issue.

Through 30 games played, Andrea is averaging 12.9 points on 40% shooting from the field and 28% shooting from three-point range. Shooting was something Andrea was supposed to thrive in, being a seven-footer who can stretch the defense and nail open jumpers.

It’s not as if he can do much else right. He averages a pathetic 4.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is an awful number for someone of his size. He has never shown a willingness to bang down low, score around the paint, grab rebounds and box out.

Over his last seven games, he’s averaging just 3.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and a turnover in about 18 minutes  of action.

Ugh.

As you can see, he’s not giving fans much of a reason NOT to boo him, frankly.

Coach Dwane Casey believes the only way to quiet the fans, is for Bargnani to step up his game and become more aggressive when he’s on the court.

“He can control the crowd [with] his play, his approach, his body language, the way he attacks things, how aggressive he is,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to that player, whoever it is … to do something about it. You hush the crowd up, whether it’s at home or the road, [with] your play.

“I do know one thing about Toronto fans: They love hard play, they love physical play, they love aggressive play, they love passion.” (National Post)

Aggressive play? Physical play? Hard play? Passion?

Surely you can’t be serious?

I don’t think Andrea has ever heard those words used to describe him in his life.

Even during his best years in Toronto, I never thought of him as much of a passionate player. He was very lackadaisical, evoking little to no emotion, if only in rare spurts.

I’ve spoken with a number of fans since the February 22nd NBA Trade Deadline, and needless to say, not a lot of people are happy that he wasn’t dealt.

I can sympathize with that. They just want this “Bargnani era” to be over and done with. Everyone needs a fresh start. However, with Andrea being hurt for as long as he has, and his awful play since coming back full-time, what exactly was GM Bryan Colangelo going to get that was of equal value? I’m sure teams were doing their best to low-ball the Raptors into accepting a next-to-nothing offer, but kudos to BC for not budging.

I want him gone just as much as the next guy, but I want him gone for the right reasons and not just for the sake of making it happen.

Not everyone can live that down though. He’s still a Raptor, and that’s not good enough to most fans.

Andrea Bargnani won’t be a Toronto Raptor next season. There is no way of confirming that, because July is still far off in the distance, but believe me, Colangelo is going to do everything in his power to unload Bargnani, as keeping him around for the 2013-14 season would be a disastrous move.

Until that day comes, Raptors fans will continue to boo, and that they should. Everyone has an opinion, and they should have the right to say or vocalize any displeasure they have.

A bear can only be poked with a stick so long before it starts to fight back. Years of vent up frustrations are finally getting unleashed.

“Il Mago” has the power to make it all go away. It doesn’t look like he’s in a hurry, though.

There is only so much patience one can have. The “benefit of the doubt” routine is wearing thin.

It’s time to put up or shut up.

Chris Walder is the Editor of Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter at @WalderSports

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Tags: Andrea Bargnani Dwane Casey Toronto Raptors

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