On Monday Patrick Patterson took the court for the Raptors with one minute to go in the 1st quarter wearing a protective mask. This was the first game in which Patterson donned the mask, which was intended to protect a recently broken nose, and it looked pretty cool. I may be the only one, but I love it anytime a player wears a facemask, so I was already excited for the masked Patterson era.
Then the Toronto announcing team chimed in with this: Patterson wanted to eventually go with a Batman inspired mask.
Holy crap. The NBA had apparently moved to within a few games of having a Batman themed backup power forward. A Batman themed backup power forward who could have done battle with Rob Ford. This was the greatest January sub-plot involving both the NBA and Canada since ever.
Now I was hooked. Patterson needed to play well with the mask. He needed to be more than a power forward with it on – he needed to be a symbol. A symbol of what the Raptors could become.
At the end of the quarter he got a chance to show what the mask would do for him. He lined up a quick three with the clock winding down – and missed. Ok, no big deal, the first shot doesn’t mean anything, he’ll get them in the 2nd quarter.
The start of the 2nd quarter provided little involvement by Patterson, but it was all fine. He was lurking around the floor waiting to strike. Then, with 9:40 to go in the second, he deflected a pass from Andrei Kirilenko and forced the turnover. Finally, the first signs that the Bat-Pat era was going to take hold. Shortly thereafter Deron Williams was forced to foul him in order to stop an easy layup. But you can’t stop the mask. Two made free throws, and the first points of the Mask Era are on the board.
Next a rebound? Is there anything the mask can’t do? Well, aside from hit a midrange jumper after the rebound, but no big deal, everyone misses a few, he’ll bounce back.
Another made basket and I’m sold. Nothing can stop the mask now, and I wait with anticipation through a timeout to see what the mask can propel Patterson to next. But as the team re-takes the floor something is wrong – Patterson has ditched the mask! He, like so many before him, had chosen the coward’s way out, opting “being able to see” over striking fear into the hearts of his opponents (and Rob Ford).
In the end he didn’t even pay for his brazen decision to forsake the mask, nailing the go ahead jumper to help the Raptors to victory. It turns out he was neither the hero we deserved nor the one we needed. We’ll just have to wait for someone else to break their nose for another chance at getting a little more Batman into the NBA.