Covid-19 has been responsible for a lot of change this year.
You’ve probably noticed all the masks, plexiglass, sanitizer, and line-ups, at your favorite spots. This summer, the province issued a new set of Covid-19 restrictions, but adherence isn’t always easy; for customers and businesses alike.
“I find that it brings out the worst in some people, but it also brings out the best in some people” exclaims manager Natasha Donovan.“ I definitely find that some people on the planet don’t seem to think Covid exists and they tend to share that when they come into the restaurant”.
When there’s a delicious plate of halibut in front of you, it’s easy to forget about Covid-19
Vancouver’s pickle-ball players are in luck this fall.
Following the grand opening of two official pickle-ball courts in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver is constructing over 2 dozen additional outdoor courts. Community centers will also receive indoor court space; there will be no shortage of pickle-ball practice this year.
What is pickle-ball?
Borrowing elements from ping-pong, tennis, and badminton, pickle-ball players rally a sturdy whiffle-ball-like ball over a net.
“I’m very excited,” said local Pickle-baller Anthony Porta. “I want everybody to try it”.
photo via:Rikki / Julius Reque/ Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode
It’s been nine days since New Westminster’s pier park caught fire, but the blaze burns fresh for locals.
“It was just devastating,” said quayside resident Sabrina, who watched in horror amongst neighbors September 14th. ” I hope they can rebuild, and I hope whoever started this fire is brought to justice”.
Speaking of justice, on September 17th, a suspect was arrested on arson-related offenses. The suspect was released from custody under numerous conditions and awaits charges. The NWPD has confirmed they aren’t looking for additional suspects at this time.
The provincial government announced two new cannabis programs on Sunday, regarding indigenous, and local pot growers.
In 2022, BC will allow small-scale, health Canada-licensed, cultivators to sell directly to their larger retail counterparts. In addition, licensed producers will be able to sell right from their doorstep, via “farm gate” stores. Imagine a farmer’s produce stand, but instead of fresh fruit or corn, there will be cannabis.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General declined Evolution’s request for an interview.
In January, look for specially-marked indigenous cannabis products when you visit the local pot shop.
American TikTok users didn’t have a good start to the weekend. On Friday, September 18, the United States Department of Commerce ordered a complete ban on Chinese media giants, ByteDance, and Tencent.
ByteDance and Tencent, respective owners of TikTok, and Wechat are both Chinese corporations; the Department of Commerce stated that the ban will “protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.” United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross wrote, “we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”
China, ByteDance, and Tencent have all denied the claim that American-user data is preserved and examined. ByteDance went beyond this, hiring former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, to be TikTok’s, Chief Executive Officer. This attempt at distancing Bytedance from its Chinese ownership only lasted three months, with Mayer resigning under increased pressure from Washington DC.
Over the summer, American politicians became increasingly vocal regarding TikTok’s existence as a potential threat to American security; none more so than the POTUS himself. On August 6, Trump denounced America’s business relationship with Chinese corporations ByteDance, and Tencent, ordering the execution of a ban within 45 days.
According to President Trump, the United States needed to “take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect national security”. When regarding Tencent, Trump stated the Chinese company “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
China versus the World
Should the ban go ahead, Sunday will see TikTok and Wechat’s absence from American app stores. The United States will be among several countries to entirely ban TikTok; ByteDance recently withdrew its app from Hong Kong following a new national security law, just a week after India banned the video-sharing platform, following clashes at their border shared with China.
How Will it Work?
Americans that already utilize any ByteDance or Tencent applications will retain access until November 12, 2020. The Department of Commerce won’t be looking to punish American users that keep the applications, aiming instead at the app’s software and functionality. By November 12, both apps will experience a severe reduction in functionality, and speed.
“We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the U.S. from Nov. 12,” Bytedance said in response to the ban’s announcement, “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the U.S. of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”
The president’s order was cited under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, allowing the administrative authority to ban all commercial/financial interactions with sanctioned parties. Tensions further arose when President Trump ordered the vacation of China’s consulate office in Houston, Texas. China countered by immediately ordering the United States out of its Chengdu consulate office. While ByteDAnceThe ban marks the latest development in Trump’s fight against “untrusted” Chinese applications that pose “significant threats ” to American privacy.
Unfamiliar with these applications?
Extremely popular amongst Generation Z, TikTok is a video-based, social media platform; utilizing music, lip-syncing, comedy, cooking, and more. These videos can range from three seconds to a minute long. According to combined data from Apple and Android’s app stores, in 2019, TikTok was downloaded over 700 million times. It’s estimated that TikTok currently has over 800 million users across the globe, 100 million of them are in the United States.
Boasting over 1 billion users(primarily in China), WeChat is an all-in-one social networking service, with features for messaging, photography financial transactions, and more. Upon request of the Communist Party of China(CCP), user activity can be monitored, shared with, and analyzed by China’s government. Accounts from outside of China also have their data surveilled; this data goes towards the construction of Chinese censorship algorithms. There are an estimated 19 million Wechat users in the United States; most prominently students, immigrants, travelers, or those with fiscal relations to China.
Zero Risks During Election Year
After two presidential campaigns rife with interference, the Trump administration is taking no chances this time around. Back in June, TikTok users were allegedly responsible for a dishearteningly abysmal turnout at President Trump’s Tulsa Oklahoma rally. TikTok users reserved thousands of tickets without any intention to attend, massively inflating the expected crowd size.
Will Canada Follow in America’s Footsteps?
Highly unlikely, for now. However, Canada has been wrapped into its tensions with the Chinese government; regarding the extradition of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, and China’s imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, widely viewed as wrongful and retaliatory.
An Opportunity Zuckerberg Can’t Resist
Following President Trump’s condemnation of ByteDance and Tencent, Facebook revealed it’s response to TikTok, Instagram Reels. Instagram reels will allow users to create 15 second short videos, featuring many visual effects.
Facebook is no stranger to copying their competition, Instagram’s 24-hour story feature is nearly identical to that of Snapchat’s. Additionally, this isn’t even Facebook’s first time attempting to replicate TikTok.Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but they shut down servers after only a few months.
There’s Still Time for Tiktok
While marginal, there is still room for compromise. Tencent and WeChat are on the way out, but Donald Trump has one possible condition for ByteDance; the corporation must give the United States complete control over its user’s data.
ByteDance has been in contact with 2 American companies, Oracle Corp, and even Microsoft, trying frantically to construct TikTok Global. These companies aren’t under the same scrutiny as Facebook or Alphabet(Google) and would make interesting new players into the social media market. If ByteDance can address the Department of Commerce’s concerns by November 12, then TikTok will not yet have seen the last of its days in the U.S. However, that window is shrinking daily. Beginning Sunday, ByteDance will need to move quickly if it wants a different American fate.
Gkaidan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
On September 4, 2020, Disney released its live-action version of Mulan to the public. .The film, a remake of the 1998 animation, is based on the ancient Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a courageous young woman who assumes her father’s position amongst the Emperor’s army.
About a year ago, Disney expected the film to be a blockbuster; predicting that Chinese moviegoers would propel the film to record-setting heights. That didn’t happen.
Instead, Covid-19 became responsible for a near worldwide shutdown of cinemas in March. Subsequently, Disney opted to premiere the film via its streaming service, DisneyPlus. Countries that received a theatrical release include Croatia, The Czech Republic, Singapore, Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and China.
Come release day, DisneyPlus subscribers were surprised( relatively unpleasantly) with a $30 price tag ($34.99 Canadian), for “premier access” to the film. Additionally required, is a subscription to DisneyPlus( $8.99 per month, $89.99 per year). Disney likely factored several variables into this price point. After all, Mulan was filmed with a $200 million budget; the highest budget ever, for a female-directed film. A lack of cinema- goer’s meant that Disney needed to make adjustments for revenue or at least attempt to.
Tomorrow the movie will be two weeks old, and Mulan’s global “box office” totals aren’t spectacular. So far, Mulan has earned a light $42 million worldwide. In China, Disney’s remake of the classic only grossed $23.1 million Mulan’s astronomical budget completely eclipses sales. Streaming numbers may increase marginally, but they’ve likely peaked until Mulan is released to all DisneyPlus subscribers on December 4.
Sure, when compared to the average $9 North American movie ticket, $30 is definitely steep. However, that only concerns single moviegoers buying their own tickets. Once you begin to factor in families of two, three, four, or more; not to mention popcorn and snacks, the price point begins to level out. With a PG-13 rating, Mulan is optimal to be viewed in a family setting; its minor violence won’t be keeping any children up at night.
The original film is usually regarded fondly by customers and critics. The only glaring criticism regarding the 1998 classic is the lack of an Asian cast.
Not this time. Disney made sure to secure an all-star Chinese cast, with celebrated actors like Jet Li, Gong Li, and Donnie Yen. So how did Disney perform so poorly with this second version of Mulan? There are several reasons, ranging from pricing to politics, and even human rights violations.
A Closer Look At The Numbers
Compared to the weekend of August 2, Mulan’s premiere on DisneyPlus fueled a 68% subscriber increase across 20 countries. Unfortunately for Disney, this didn’t translate well into sales for Mulan. A measly 4% of these customers went on to rent the film
Disney isn’t a stranger to remaking their classic animated movies. The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Aladdin have all recently seen live-action adaptations. All three of these movies retained (some of) the musical numbers that made them so memorable. Not Mulan. The film’s director, Niki Caro chose to use instrumental versions of the animated film’s score. Fans had valid reasoning for being upset. Mulan’s animated score was nominated for an academy award in 1999; it was exceptional. Mulan 2020 seems quiet by comparison.
The lack of musical numbers isn’t the only significant difference across both versions of Mulan. 2020’s live-action remake won’t be featuring a certain red dragon. Voiced by Eddie Murphy in 1998, Mushu the dragon spirit was Mulan’s beloved companion. According to Nicki Caro, the decision to forego Mushu and singing was Disney’s attempt at creating a more realistic, somber atmosphere for the film. Akin to Zazu (Rowan Atkinson) in The Lion King, or Genie (Robin Williams) in Aladdin, Mushu was essentially just comic relief; but Eddie Murphy did a fantastic job with his role, and is thoroughly missed this time around.
This is where things started to become hectic for Disney.
On August 15, 2019, Mulan’s leading actress Liu Yifei shared a message to her 65 Weibo (China’s very popular alternative to Twitter), million followers, in support of Hong Kong police. Additionally, Yifei shared an image via The People’s Daily; the official newspaper for the Communist Party of China (CCP). According to a CNN translation, Li Yifei posted on Weibo saying, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”
Since last year, Hong Kong’s police force has received heavy accusations regarding excessive force against democratic protesters. Her post was received incredibly well in China, gaining more than 70,00 shares, 80,000 likes, and thousands of positive comments.
Contrarily in Hong Kong and the Western World, Yifei’s post erupted in a wave of backlash. #Boycottmulan began to trend on Twitter and Instagram, condemning Liu Yifei’s stance towards Hong Kong. Critics additionally went after Disney’s Mulan Instagram account, spreading contempt wide across social media. Not everyone is angry at the Chinese- born actress, with some users even suggesting her post may have been influenced by the Chinese government. In the past, the CCP is rumored to have blacklisted performers; as such, several Chinese fans have cautioned against drawing rapid conclusions regarding Yifei.
Li Yifei wasn’t Mulan’s only cast member in support of the CCP. Donnie Yen, who plays a military commander, Tung, also drew negative attention from Hong Kong supporters
Following Mulan’s release, it was discovered that Disney worked in cooperation with the CCP during filming. As it would turn out, Disney was filming in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a controversial location where the CCP has been accused of numerous humans rights violations against the region’s Uyghur Islamic people, and other minorities. During Mulan’s final closing credits, Disney gives thanks to the propaganda departments in Xinjiang, and the public security bureau of Turpan, a predominantly Uighur city.
Upon this crediting, the Chinese Government has imposed a ban on publicizing Mulan. Amidst the human rights controversy, major media companies in China have revealed that they are forbidden from covering the film’s release.
Just Bad Timing
Have you seen Disney’s Mulan remake yet? An unfortunate combination of timing and controversy ultimately spelled disaster for this remake of a classic.
It’s been over a year of patiently waiting, but no longer. Finally, it’s here.
By Daiisyy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84328317On September 14, 2020, Popeye’s released their “Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich” to British Columbians. Not a moment too soon, either. Recall way back to August 2019, the Popeye’s chicken sandwich isn’t new; it’s been available in North America for over a year now. Releasing to massive critical acclaim last summer, Popeye’s sold out their American stock in just under two weeks. There were fights, there were protests. On November 4, 2019, a man was stabbed and killed after he repeatedly cut in line for a chicken sandwich.
Thankfully, no such violence occurred following its release at 9 BC locations, but the hype is still alive. The question is, is it warranted? Just how tasty is this sandwich compared to the competition?
Keep reading to find out.
Before beginning, there must be two disclaimers: this list is limited to chicken sandwiches and burgers only. This sandwich ranking excludes Subway(or submarine sandwiches in general), as the customer essentially prepares their meal. Sincerest apologies to all of the sandwich purists. Finally, a warning; there’s a high probability of becoming hungry upon finishing this list. Without any further ado, here are five of the best fast-food sandwiches customers can find in Metro Vancouver.
# 5 Beyond Burger, A&W
Imitated by many, replicated by none. A&W was Canada’s first fast-food franchise to offer beyond meet products. Safe to say, this sandwich inspired an abundance of copies; competing franchises have scrambled to accommodate this new found craze, creating plant-based options of their own. With good reason, too. For a sandwich without meat, A&W’s beyond burger doesn’t skip a beat. The beyond- meat patty is seasoned and grilled to perfection, and the flavor is almost indistinguishable from beef. Not to mention how tender it is. Alongside that, this sandwich is loaded with delicious toppings, such as pickles, fresh lettuce, red onions, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and ‘uncle burger’ sauce. If you’re not a big meat eater, then this is definitely the premier sandwich for you.
# 4 Famous Chicken Chicken Sandwich, KFC
Released to be a direct competitor to Popeye’s chicken sandwich, Colonel Sanders wasted no time frying up his own version of a southern-style chicken sandwich. The ingredient list for this sandwich is nearly identical to Popeyes, with two key differences; the chicken, and the potato bun it’s served on. The chunk of chicken is quite tasty, consistent with the colonel’s signature taste. Surprisingly though, that potato bun is the most pleasant part of the experience. It’s light, soft, and has a distinct potato flavor not found in many burger buns. By itself, KFC’s chicken sandwich is just two dollars; it’s quite difficult to go wrong at that price point. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try the colonel’s famous chicken sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise!
# 3 The Whopper, Burger King
Happy Whopper Wednesday! Needing no introduction, this hard-hitting heavyweight burger is the King’s flagship meal; and it’s more than earned that title. Featuring a four-ounce patty; a sesame seed bun, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and ketchup. this sandwich hits the spot every.single.Wednesday. The flame-grilled beef is the star of the show, with a wonderfully smokey char to it. Throw some cheese, and even bacon on that beauty, and enjoy an incredible sandwich. Make no mistake either; Burger King has several tasty chicken sandwiches available. They also even feature a plant-based “impossible whopper”, but A&W’s beyond meat is the tastier alternative. When it comes to Burger King, the whopper reigns supreme.
# 2 Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Here it is. Served on a warm, toasted, buttery brioche bun, garnished with pickles and spicy mayonnaise, it’s Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. Popeye’s truly outdid themselves with their chicken sandwich. Second place on the sandwich podium is no easy feat, but it’s been earned. This sandwich is a fantastic, fresh alternative for hungry consumers looking for a delicious new meal. You’re already aware that the ingredients used are similar to KFC’s, but the difference shines through in the chicken. That Louisiana flavor is impeccable; light, crisp, incredibly tender, and missing the grease usually associated with fried chicken. If you can handle some heat, the spicy chicken sandwich delivers all that flavor, with just the right kick. Overall, the hype is very real. Barring the killer customer from Maryland, Americans were right to go crazy about this sandwich. Indeed, Popeyes has changed the game of fried chicken, and their chicken sandwich is guaranteed to be a fan favorite for as long as it’s here.
Drum roll, please…
# 1 McDonalds Big Mac
Sing it! Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!
Expecting a McChicken here? Sorry, it’s the Big Mac. What can be said about McDonald’s’ flagship sandwich that hasn’t been said before? It’s nothing short of iconic; truly classic. A timeless masterpiece, in every sense of the term.
Since it’s 1967 release in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Big Mac’s recipe has remained largely unchanged. Meanwhile, the Big Mac has become more than a sandwich, it’s a token of Americana; a symbol of the American dream. Overall,the sandwich is fantastic. 2 patties pack a delicious, beefy bite, but the Big Mac special sauce really gives this burger it’s uniquiety. In the United States alone, Mcdonalds sells approximately 550 million Big Macs every year, making it the world’s best-selling sandwich.
On a sidenote, credit is due to Burger King; the Whopper is the only sandwich not eclipsed by the Big Mac’s sales.
That was a lot of sandwiches.
So there it is, a humble, non- biased, and entirely objective ranking of several of Metro Vancouver’s fast-food sandwiches. Perhaps it seems a little presumptuous to be ranking Popeye’s chicken sandwich so highly, but try one. It won’t disappoint.
To avid sandwich consumers, this list likely contains controversial material. That’s the beauty behind it all. For sandwich lovers, there are dozens of other options available in the Lower Mainland. This review/ ranking doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the iceberg lettuce. Now that the summer’s over, there’s an entire school year to try them all!
The skies have darkened over Metro Vancouver. It appears that the end is nigh, as the sun itself is choked out by thick clouds… of moths.
D. Gordon E. Robertson / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Okay, not quite. The skies are gray these days because of fire smoke. If you’ve seen a few million too many moths this summer, you aren’t alone. Here’s why you’ve got so many new neighbors all of a sudden!
Following a relatively small outbreak of moths last fall 2019, they’ve returned. This time they brought backup.
According to North Vancouver, an outbreak of Looper Moths is to blame. Not just one type either. Although barely distinguishable from one another, this outbreak includes both the Western Hemlock Looper and the Phantom Hemlock Looper moths. Lucky us.
After receiving several inquiries from curious residents, the District of North Vancouver first publically addressed the matter in late August, labeling looper moths as a “part of the natural coastal forest system”.The outbreak remains most concentrated around the North Shore, but the looper moths have made their homes all across the Lower Mainland, to New Westminster, Burnaby, and Surrey.
This may seem like just another chapter in the bleak story that is 2020, but it’s perfectly natural. Think back to economics class. Why? Roughly every 10-20 years each species of looper moths; and many of their cousins, go through boom and bust population cycles.
Unfortunately, this occurrence is inevitable, and we were getting overdue; likely the reason why this year’s boom seems so massive. Interestingly, Metro Vancouver is actually in the second year of this wondrous cycle. Theorizations propose that recent, dry summers likely caused an increase in the edible foliage targetted by looper larvae; this abundance of nutrients was the perfect catalyst to trigger a looper moth population boom.
When Moths Attack
The good thing is, looper moths are pretty much completely harmless to humans. They don’t carry disease, they won’t sting or bite. You might’ve heard about the awful appetite certain moths carry for curtains clothing, and cardboard, but this explosive population is only a terror to trees.
Defoliation has been evident from the North Shore, in areas like Mount Seymour and Lynn Valley, to Coquitlam, and stretching as far as the Sunshine Coast and Thompson-Okanagan. Coniferous forestry across British Columbia is at the most risk. An estimated 2,000 hectares of forest have already been impacted.
The diet of the looper moth consists primarily of western hemlock,(hence the name) spruces, pine, red cedar, and many fir trees. Any associated deciduous trees and shrubbery are also prone to defoliation. Trees that become impacted by these moths and their larvae often change color; turning from green to red or orange. Alternately, they may be completely defoliated; stripped mercilessly by the insect’s feast. Not only does the looper moth eat a lot, but it also eats incredibly quickly. A swarm of looper moths may decimate a coniferous tree in a single season. The reason? Looper moths make no differentiation between live and dead leaves/needles.
Not every tree used as a food source dies. The trees that are most susceptible to these species are simply the oldest, weakest of the bunch. Keeping up to date with tree mortality is still important for ecologists; severely decayed trees present several risks to their surroundings, such as wildfires, erosion, and lowering nearby water quality. However, death and decay lead to new life; as trees rot away, their nutrients enter the soil, where new growth begins to occur. Ecologists typically regard this cyclical process as beneficial to ecosystems, expecting an increased level of biodiversity, and greater evolutionary resistance to swarms akin to this. While evidence supports that British Columbian foresty can handle the worst of the explosion, there’s one wildcard. Climate change.
Did you know that trees stress as well? In a warm climate, trees targetted by looper moths, and their larvae become stressed. In turn, becoming easier prey for the looper moths. This creates the possibility of a feedback situation, where trees can’t recover properly; and unequipped for future swarms, will be ravaged more and more thoroughly. Only time and careful examination will help determine whether British Columbian forests are recovering optimally or not.
As fall begins to move closer, temperatures around British Columbia will drop. Luckily, that signal’s the end of the looper moths wrath. For now. Ready for the best part of this whole situation? Experts estimate we’re only in our second year of a three-to-four year life cycle for these winged beasts. Yes, this is potentially just the beginning. Everything depends on the province’s climate. A warm, dry spring in 2021 may be very a telltale sign of more looper moths to come. Fortunately, a wet 2020 summer season means that these trees won’t be stressing hard for water.
Using satellites and aerial imaging, British Columbia has begun to conduct surveys, but exact levels of defoliation likely won’t be known until next year. If the population outbreak continues to sky-rocket, the province has the option of spraying Btk, a pesticide only activated once inside the moth larvae’s stomach. This scenario is highly improbable; BTK is almost exclusively used for woodworking in the Okanagan.
Essentially, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about these pests. Experts agree that patience is key, and environmental factors will kill-off these pests. Starting this month, a noticeable decline in the looper moth population will certainly occur. By October, they should be gone entirely. Until next summer. it all comes down to climate. An unusually cold year may devastate the looper moth population. Or, next summer will be warmer, and this mothpocalypse is just beginning
Feast Fit for a Feline
D. Gordon E. Robertson / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Not everyone’s complaining about this population surge. Trying to swat these things out of your bedroom may seem pointless, but it’s very entertaining for your cat. Not to mention fantastic exercise as well. They’ll be busy all week honing their hunting skills while ridding you of looper moths. Win-win! These moths are perfectly edible to the cats as well, judging by the voraciousness with which they pursue. I suppose it’s all just the circle of life.
photo by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
“It’s time to leave this mother f*cker”- Kyle Lowry
Feelings were bittersweet Friday night; the season nobody expected from the Toronto Raptors came to a close following a spectacular seven-game conference semifinal versus the Boston Celtics.
From the very first tip-off of Round two, it was evident that the series was going to be a battle for our defending champions. The Boston Celtics took the first two games in an aggressive fashion and looked poised to rapidly grab a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Og Anunoby had a different plan for the series. If you didn’t watch, let me paint a picture. The champs were down by two points, with half a second left in the fourth quarter. For the final possession, six-foot point guard Kyle Lowry inbounded(passed) the ball over the seven-foot-five Boston big man, Tacko Fall, to an open OG Anunoby in the corner.
Og for three.
When compared to Kawhi Leonard’s 2019 buzzer-beater against the Philadelphia 76ers, Anunoby’s shot probably won’t go down in Raptors’ history. That said, lit a fire under his team; exponentially changing the momentum of the series.
Instead of going down to an insurmountable three-game deficit, the Raptors carried on and took game four as well, tying up the eastern conference semifinals at two games apiece. Momentum was suddenly all Toronto’s. It was an emotional rollercoaster of three games; a slugfest of each team trading blows, wins, and losses, until a climactic game seven.
Although the season ended in defeat; the Raptors and their fans have a lot to be proud of, and more to look forward to. Following their 2019 championship season, and the superstar departure of finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors were only projected for the sixth-best regular-season record. Instead, the defending champions won 53 games in the 2019-20 season, securing the second-best record in the NBA across both Eastern and Western conferences. Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
On paper, the Toronto Raptors weren’t supposed to be an elite team. Good thing basketball isn’t played on paper; the Raptors defied expectations night after night. Kawhi Leonard’s absence left a hole to be filled, and multiple Raptors stepped up to the occasion. Lead by a core of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and even Fred Vanvleet, the Toronto Raptors over-achieved their way deep into the playoffs. Without a single “superstar” player, this team crept closer until analysts and fans alike began to ponder the possibility of a championship repeat.
The Season’s Over, Let’s Take a Look at 2019-2020’s Best Performers for Canada’s NBA team.
Once again the leader of his team, Kyle Lowry handled the departure of Kawhi Leonard exceptionally well; his 19.4 points and 7.5 assists represented an increase in production and efficiency beyond 2019. While not as good as his speak several seasons prior, he’s absolutely still a reassurance for Toronto fans.
Although Pascal had a tough time adjusting to the playoff bubble, that’s not to discount his incredible 2019-20 regular season. It seemed that Siakam had improved his skillset even beyond that of the 2018-19 season, averaging a strong 22.9 points, 3.5 assists, and 7.3 rebounds. Canadians have a lot to look forward to from Siakam; he’s on just the second year of a four-year $130 million contract. Expect even bigger things from this guy.
At 5’11”, Steady Freddy was on a mission this season; to establish himself as a starting-caliber guard in the NBA. His numbers solidified his place; Fred put up 17.6 points per game, hitting three-pointers at a higher rate than ever before. While Fred Vanvleet and Kyle Lowry make up one of the league’s shortest backcourts, they play with grit and resilience that’s second-to-none.
Beyond a jaw-dropping shot in game three, OG Anunoby surprised pleasantly this season, expanding upon his already impressive defensive skill set, and adding more offense to his repertoire. Shooting nearly 40% from the three-point line, Anunoby looked very comfortable under the bright lights this season, and I expect his offensive role to grow next season.
Somewhat similar to Siakiam in this regard, Serge had a slightly disappointing appearance in the playoff bubble. However, his contributions to the team during the regular season cannot be overlooked; Toronto relied on him heavily to command the frontcourt. Averaging 15.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and shooting nearly 39% from three, Ibaka played a vital role in both offensive and defensive sets.
The Toronto Raptors missed Gasol for long stretches during the regular season, but he returned in good form for the bubble. Sure, his offensive game dwindled a little from prior seasons, but his value is in his defense against premier big men in the league. He’s truly the defensive anchor for Toronto, that can also reliably hit three-pointers. For a seven-footer, Gasol remains a very solid play-maker.
The sixth man in rotation for the Raptors, Powell had a strong season as well. Averaging 16 points per game and 40% from the three-point line is nothing to scoff at; those are better numbers than some starting players. Powell has a fantastic offensive skill set; he can shoot, score in transition, and finish through contact. These tools have molded him into one of Toronto’s best weapons.
While not a player, the final relevant piece of this Toronto team is none other than coach Nick Nurse. Coaching the Raptors to the second-best record in the league, Nurse was named the 2019-2020 NBA Coach of the Year. The accolade marks him as the only head coach in league history to win both the NBA Coach of the Year and NBA G League Coach of the Year.
Always Next Year
While the Toronto Raptors lack a top-five talent in the league(sorry Lowry fans), their strength comes from within; the depth, the locker room chemistry. Night in and night out the Raptors played with heart, grit, and exceptional toughness. They proved analysts and fans wrong, and will absolutely be looking to do so again next season. The only question now is what moves the front office will look to make in the offseason.