"We The North" has been quite the successful rallying cry for the NBA's only Canada-based franchise in recent years, but the Toronto Raptors are going to need to take on another motto for the short-term future. That's because they're moving not only south of the Canadian border, but to one of the Southern-most cities in the NBA to begin the 2020-21 season.
The team announced on Friday that it will start playing the upcoming season in Tampa Bay, Florida as a result of travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly to the Raptors, the Toronto Blue Jays settled in Buffalo, N.Y. for the 2020 MLB season, keeping Toronto in front of the team nickname. Tampa beat out other cities, including Kansas City and Buffalo, and was the betting favorite to land the Raptors at +125 odds (via Odds Shark).
Back in late October, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy penned a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offering the Raptors to make Buffalo its "home away from home" if the Canadian government were to decline the Raptors from being able to travel back-and-forth between the United States and Canada.
As expected, social media had a lot to say about the major news regarding one of NBA's most productive franchises of late, who won the Finals at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season and has made the playoffs in seven consecutive campaigns. This culture of winning should fit in nicely, as the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, MLB's Tampa Bay Rays made it to the 2020 World Series, and the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a good position to make a run for the 2021 Super Bowl.
Within minutes of the news, the Raptors were on Twitter's top-ten trending list, with "We The South" making it as a subtopic. Some notable non-basketball athletes, including Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, reacted with excitement:
Various fans and media outlets tried their hand at coming up with a temporary logo for the Raptors, incorporating some of Florida's well-known features.
Whether or not the logo changes, the scenery certainly will, not to mention the real possibility that the season experiences similar disruptions as in 2020 due to COVID-19. But leaving Canada has been beneficial to the Raptors before. They went 7-1 in the eight play-in games after arriving in the Orlando bubble and were actually a better team on the road in the 2019-20 season, finishing 27-9 in away games as opposed to 26-10 at home.