Title: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sets himself up as the Raptors’ next fan favourite
Date: November 18, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson breaking through in the Raptors’ rotation and, maybe, on the franchise’s short-term fan-favorite list.
During a first-quarter timeout Monday, the Toronto Raptors aired a brief video tribute to Bismack Biyombo as part of their ongoing 25th season “Raptor Rewind” series.
Biyombo, now a member of the visiting Charlotte Hornets, received a hero’s welcome, as he likely will for the remainder of his career. While his time in Toronto was brief, he ingratiated himself to the fan base quickly, with finger-wagging blocks, biceps-flexing rebounds and a thousand-watt smile. Biyombo’s one-year turn as a fan favourite was hardly novel — there is a long list of briefly tenured underdog babyfaces in Raptors lore — but it did mark a return to such a season mattering. A great deal of Biyombo’s organizational cachet was built in the playoffs, where he stepped in for an injured Jonas Valanciunas as the starting centre on the franchise’s first-ever conference finalist.
The reception given to Biyombo may be instructive to a new Raptor. Right around the time Biyombo entered the game for the first time, another Raptors flier on a one-year deal, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, did the same.