I don’t think any two-week basketball period in my lifetime will be more personally memorable than "Linsanity" in 2012, when Jeremy Lin took the world by storm, carrying the New York Knicks to an improbable win streak — setting career-highs and hitting game-winners in a run which propelled him into the most talked-about person in the world.
Gary Trent Jr.’s first 10 games haven't been that, but you can see the similarities in the excitement he’s brought to a Raptors team going through a down year after a seven-year run of winning 48 games or more. In a nightmare season where the team has dealt with everything from having to temporarily relocate to losing almost their entire coaching staff and then half the team due to health and safety protocols, Trent has been the breath of fresh air this franchise and fanbase have been desperately seeking.
Trent arrived in a trade deadline deal as an intriguing 22-year-old the Raptors could add to their young core. He has been much more than that since becoming the greatest player in Tampa Bay Raptors history. Through 10 games, this is Trent’s resume with his new team:
Scored a career-high 31 points vs. Oklahoma City
Recorded a plus-54 vs. Golden State
Hit a game-winning three vs. Washington
Was willing to fight the entire Los Angeles Lakers team for his new best friend OG Anunoby
Scored a career-high 44 points on 17-for-19 shooting vs. Cleveland
Beyond the incredible on-court run, what has also stood out about Trent is how he’s fully embraced being a Toronto athlete, which is incredible considering he’s in Tampa and hasn’t played a single game at Scotiabank Arena yet. Consider the fact he’s embraced the "We The North" slogan from the very beginning (by the way, did Kawhi Leonard ever say "We The North" during his one year in Toronto? Yeah that’s right the year is 2027 and I’ll still be referring to Kawhi):
He showed up in OVO gear and then upped the ante with some Raptors throwback shorts:
But wait, this man took it even further and wore his own custom Gary Trent Jr. Blue Jays jersey (by the way — imagine the content we would get from the trio of Serge Ibaka, Trent and Anunoby. I can totally picture the two young guys pulling pranks on Serge. Alright I’ll stop now and yes I’m blaming the Clippers and not Masai for this):
No one reps Toronto harder except for our own William Lou:
Trent has set the perfect blueprint for becoming a fan favourite in the city of Toronto and I personally can’t wait for him to sing the Canadian national anthem at the home opener next season.
After another close loss on Sunday, this time against the Knicks, the Raptors find themselves in this perpetual space of nothingness, as close to a play-in spot that seems only mathematically possible as they are to a top-five pick in the draft. I’m not sure what everyone’s breaking point was, but watching a downtrodden Fred VanVleet after the loss to the Thunder in late February made me realize this year is just about making the best of it and getting back to Toronto for what hopefully will be a more normal season after the summer.
In the meantime, we should all just enjoy one of the coolest runs by a single player in Raptors history.
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