It was just a tweet but as it stared back at me it made more and more sense to me. I really do have much more hope for Canada Basketball than I do for the Toronto Raptors. It isn’t really a hard argument to make when you consider the talent this program has. Unlike the Raptors Canada Basketball will have two number one overall picks when all is said and done. The Raptors fail to capture the imagination like these young Canadians have done and are doing.
The irony in all of this is without the Raptors existence, who is to say we have all these talented athletes picking up a basketball and loving the sport. At the core of that love for many of these young men goes back to the Vince Carter era in Raptors Basketball. Vince captured the imaginations of these young men and thousands of others across this country. Even in the U.S Kevin Durant recalls growing up watching Vince and wanting to play for the Raptors.
The reality is none of these Canadian kids have come home to play for the hometown team. Andrew Wiggins who will be the centerpiece of this Canadian Basketball program has said he would like to be a Raptor if it was up to him. It will not be up to him and it will be up to the results of perhaps the most hyped draft lottery since Lebron James entered the NBA. Wiggins unlike James will have to show his talents in the NCAA for a season with Kansas much like the aforementioned Durant did at Texas.
The depth of the talent on Team Canada is growing and growing. The Raptors depth is filled with question marks and what if scenarios. Someone asked me if this Team Canada group lined up with Toronto Raptors for a seven game series who would win? This current edition of Team Canada likely would fall a little short. If you add Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk the answer might change.
Take Canada’s game against Mexico on Thursday and compare it to the Raptors. Like we have seen with the Raptors at times Canada would get off to a tremendous start. This would not last and Canada was on the brink only up 2 points heading into the fourth quarter. The Raptors in that situation have lost more times than they have been successful. This group of Canadians came out and crushed Mexico in the fourth quarter outscoring the Mexicans 29-9. It maybe comparing apples to oranges to some degree but there is something exciting about watching this Canadian Team that is missing when watching the Raptors.
It could be as simple as national pride. I may like Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and others but they are not from where I am from at the end of the day. I honestly can’t get that excited watching Jonas Valanciunas play for a country that I have no real connection to other than the fact one of their best players is a Raptor. All I hope for is that Jonas is not hurt and hopefully develops.
I have the pride for Canada basketball that most in this nation have for hockey. I am not sure I have the pride in the Raptors in the same way as I do for team Canada. MLSE is a corporation that owns them which rooting for Rogers and Bell is not all that an appealing concept.
The thing that the Raptors and Canada Basketball share is a long history of disappointing the people who support them by failing to deliver with success. Steve Nash didn’t choose the Raptors but he did choose Canada Basketball. His influence on this team is evident. It is with no disrespect that I say this but to get a call from Steve Nash to play for your country and a call from Leo Rautins or even Jay Triano is not the same thing.
Speaking of Triano someone who I was highly critical of in his time with the Raptors as head coach in this role he works well. The biggest reason why is the support he has behind him. Steve Nash made it quite public that he would not have taken the roll running the Canadian Basketball program without Triano as the head coach. While on the Raptors it could be said that Jay Triano as a former assistant never really had the respect of his team with Canada Basketball he does because the guy running the show is 100% behind him.
While Canada chances of winning a Gold Medal some day remain a slim one as long as the United States is still sending a team to compete. I still give them a better chance in the years to come than the Raptors overcoming power house teams like Miami and Oklahoma City and others to win an NBA Title.
It goes back to one of things I always talk about in this blog the concept of hope. Canada Basketball in my view has it and the Raptors are still wandering around trying to find it.