Devin Booker is an 87-percent free-throw shooter for his career, so focus in the face of fans is of no consequence to him. But one lonely dromaeosaurid all but brought him to distraction Tuesday night, and gave us a bit of basketball wisdom: namely, that 6,000 fans waving and shouting are the same as none, but one is greater than them all.
The Toronto Raptors mascot, whose name is The Raptor because all the creative people had that day off, saw his duty late in Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, and did it. He went behind the basket where Booker was preparing to take free throws with six seconds left in a game the Suns led 93-92 and waved his arms spasmodically in Booker’s sightline, to the point where Booker asked (well, petulantly complained to) official Aaron Smith to move The Raptor away from the basket. And Smith, seeing no absurdity in the request, did so.
The Raptor, apparently the only principal chastened in this tableau, went to the corner of the court and took a knee. Booker made both shots, the Suns went on to win 99-95 and retake sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. And Booker, feeling perhaps that he would lose the public debate about proper fan etiquette in a world without fans, said afterward, “We hashed it out. We homies now.”
It’s hard to imagine that The Raptor—OK, the hell with this, I’m calling him Mississauga just to give him a sense of belonging—views Booker as a homie, and one hopes the league lets Smith knows that he looks to the people of two nations like a bald, prissy, and very overzealous mall cop. And it should be pointed out that Booker’s second free throw hit the front rim and then tumbled into the basket just like the first one did, so the distraction level of which he complained was immaterial to the result.
All this suggests, though, that Raptors fans are the best on the continent because they need only one bright red theropod with a spasmic condition to do what most teams need a full house of drunken, profane, mama-calling reprobates to achieve. It surely suggests that Booker is a great but slightly tetchy player. And it most assuredly means that if an official can move one ridiculously overanimated plush toy for interfering with an artist’s sense of equilibrium, he or she ought to be able to move 5,000 overserved jackwagons for the same reason. There ought to be a rule to cover this, and I’ll bet there will be one by lunchtime tomorrow.
In the meantime, you’ll notice that no players noticed this happening earlier in the game. Devin Booker ought to be ashamed of himself.