Toronto played the Pistons the other day, which meant that former Raps’ coach Dwane Casey was in the same space as the 2019 NBA Champions for the first time since their big win.
I’m relatively new to basketball fandom, so I had to ask my boyfriend to fill me in on Dwane Casey’s background with the Raps. The man spent seven seasons with Toronto. Seven! According to this Business Insider piece from 2016, seven years is about double the average time an NBA coach stays with one team.
If you put in seven years at a job, you’d be pretty upset if they won an international award immediately after you left, right? I sure would. Especially if I’d spent those years pouring my heart and soul into training my coworkers. I’d want in on that award, dude.
Casey broke a ton of coaching records with the Raps. First of all, the team set a personal record for the most wins per season during Casey’s third season. In November of 2015, Casey broke former coach Sam Mitchell’s record when the Raps beat the Bucks, making it 157 total wins. Then, in March of 2016, he became the first of the Raps’ head coaches to reach 200 wins with the team. He also led the team to a record 50 wins during that same year. That same year, the team made it to their first-ever appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. WOOT!
Two years later, Casey was the first Raps coach to head to the NBA All-Stars Game in January of 2018, and only a month after that, he hit 300 wins with the team. My beloved Raps dominated the Eastern Conference Finals that year, but soon after the Wizards beat them in the playoffs, Dwane Casey was kicked to the curb. Even though he had just won the honor of NBA Coach of the Year!
Between my boyfriend’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Raptors’ history and my minimal online research, it’s pretty obvious to me that both Demar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry would be the powerhouses they are today. And if Demar wasn’t Demar, we wouldn’t have been able to make the trade for Kawai, which means we likely wouldn’t have won the title (as Jeff Blair so elegantly pointed out in this SportsNet piece).
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Nick Nurse. He’s a cool and refreshing cucumber with cool and refreshing ideas in a salad made up of overdone lettuce and tomatoes. A new style of coaching was exactly what the Raptors needed to achieve their success. I can’t help but feel for Dwane Casey, though. He put his heart and soul into this team for the better part of a decade, then was fired faster than I fire huge chunks of stinky onions out of my salads.
But vegetable analogies aside…
Seeing Casey back on the court with my Raps for the first time after the Championship win was tough. And you know what? Don’t hate me for saying this (please, please, PLEASE!) but I almost wish that the Pistons had won. I’M SORRY! But it would have almost been a sort of karmic payback for Casey, you know?
I promise that is the very last time I will ever utter such blasphemy. But seriously. Dwane Casey, we love you. Nick Nurse, we love you. I’m just so very sorry that the two of you can’t coexist and both impart your wisdom to my boys of the 6 all at the same time.