Rick Zamperin: Raptors are the NBA’s Rodney Dangerfield — they get no respect

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) dribbles the ball down court during first half NBA Eastern Conference finals action against the Milwaukee Bucks, in Toronto on Saturday, May 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

People of a certain vintage will instantly connect the phrase “I get no respect” with the late Rodney Dangerfield.

It was the standup comedian-turned-Hollywood actor’s famous punchline and now applies to the Toronto Raptors.

Fresh off winning their first NBA championship, the Raptors will reportedly play on opening night as they tip off their 25th season Oct. 22 against first overall draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 2019-20 schedule has not officially been released yet, but if you are saying to yourself, “Wow, that’s a marquee matchup on night No. 1 of the NBA season,” you’re right.

But while getting first billing is great for Toronto, the hype machine around the former Duke University phenom is going to dwarf the attention the Raptors get.

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In fact, the Raptors won’t even reach the podium of NBA relevance on opening night, because the top two storylines of the evening will come out of Los Angeles, where LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers will take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George (if he’s healthy) and the Clippers at Staples Center.

The NBA should have given the Raps more respect as reigning champs and pitted Toronto against Leonard and the Clippers, while still capitalizing on the LeBron and Zion hype machine by matching the Lakers against the Pelicans.

At least the Raptors will finally play in one of the NBA’s marquee Christmas Day games, with reports suggesting Toronto will host Boston in an afternoon matinee at Scotiabank Arena and fans also won’t have to wait too long to welcome Leonard back to Toronto because the Clips are expected to visit T-O on Dec. 11.

On a side note, the trailer for the video game NBA 2K20 adds some salt to the wound of Raptors fans who were gutted to see Leonard leave the team. The only time the Raptors are shown in the trailer is when Leonard, in a Clippers uniform, dunks on his former team at Scotiabank Arena.

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No respect.

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