Let's summarize two distinct facts as we see them late on Wednesday night.
- Steve Nash is a Los Angeles Laker.
- Canada's inferiority complex is still very much intact, and it's clear as ever that it always will be.
You can try and avoid the Twitter people who hate -- the ones who consider multi-millionaire athletes making their own life decisions as some sort of personal affront; you can skip reading comment boards where society's underbelly is too often on display. Unfortunately in this day and age, you can't completely block them out.
There weren't too many places Wednesday where you weren't going to see at least one person's negative opinion on Nash's painfully delayed decision. I counted several, including people I know, who bequeathed the term "traitor" upon him.
Perhaps that view softened among the great throng of victims once it became clear Nash was taking his talents to Hollywood rather than Broadway. It's harder to knock a guy for trying to win with a proven champion like Kobe Bryant rather than a ball-stopper like Carmelo Anthony -- even if Nash himself downplayed ring-chasing just last week.
The fact remains however, the Victoria native owed the Raptors, Toronto and Canada absolutely nothing. Hell, I wouldn't even have held against him if he had ended up in New York -- it's where I predicted he would go before this snowballing hysteria gripped Canada with visions of him playing point guard at the Air Canada Centre.
If Nash did anything he could correct in this drama, it might be being more honest with the media about how important winning was to him. You cannot fault a man with his resume for chasing a title. And even the New York Knickerbockers would have offered a more likely scenario for that than the Raptors.Toronto never realistic option
The reality is, Toronto was never a realistic option for him. We knew this was the case when he hadn't bit on the reported $36-million US contract offer by late Tuesday night. Once sign-and-trade rumours began flying, it was over.
And for this, he is eviscerated by many of his fellow Canadians. The same fellow Canadians who forget that less than two months ago he began the process of rebuilding the credibility of the decrepit men's national team (although the same national team most of those Canadians have always ignored anyway).
That's right: The same fellow Canadians who probably cheer for other countries when Canada plays them in basketball or soccer. The same fellow Canadians who will probably boo Nash and cheer Kobe when the Lakers visit Toronto next season.
The same fellow Canadians who give hockey players a free pass for routinely signing and living in the U.S. The same fellow Canadians who I'd bet 50 per cent of would move to L.A. or New York with the offer of a lucrative job -- joining the other estimated one million Canadians already living in the two cities.
Yet because he didn't come and end his career as a character-guy, jersey-selling, 38-year-old up-tempo point guard who doesn't defend ON A TEAM NOW BUILT AROUND DEFENCE, he's a pariah.Criticism falls on Bryan Colangelo
The legitimate criticism now falls in the lap of Bryan Colangelo.
Chasing Nash was worth it. Where things got hairy, and potentially crippling down the road, was when Colangelo decided, in a ballsy poker move, to sign Landry Fields to the reported $19-million offer sheet -- purposely removing a big piece of a Knicks sign-and-trade option with Phoenix.
The reality is now that the Knicks will not match this (because they are not stupid), leaving Toronto with an overpaid small forward who while he rebounds well for his position, can't really shoot. Now without Nash, it's an epic swing and miss.
I've defended Colangelo in the past -- in the NBA, one significant roster move can put into motion a negative sequence of events without a lot of wiggle room (For example, T.J. Ford becomes Jermaine O'Neal, who becomes Shawn Marion, who becomes Hedo Turkoglu).
But in this case, he has probably gambled one time too many. Unless he can pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat and try and correct this situation by acquiring the likes of a Kyle Lowry -- a scenario that would require a trade at this point -- the events of the past week will ultimately mean his job.
Yes, they had to try for Nash. But did they really expect to overpay for Fields in the process? We know that the Raptors are not option No. 1 in NBA free agency -- they're not in a city called New York, L.A. or Miami -- and because of that, the attempt to sign Nash was more of a statement than any real-time basketball need.
MLSE and casual fans want "buzz" and jersey sales.Raptors need protracted success
What they forget is the team needs some kind of protracted success for this to occur. I know Colangelo knows this, but I know some of the people above him don't. Yes, it's a catch-22. Every time the Raptors have risen to contention, injuries and free agency have ultimately changed plans. But it's also the 12-man NBA roster, where smart drafting, smart signings and a lot of luck (something bereft in Raptorland) can lead to good places.
But no matter what, we'll still hear from many of the same knuckleheads noted above how "even Canadians don't want to play here" and how "the Raptors will leave in five years."
Yeah, sure. To where may I ask, economics majors?
While it was put well Wednesday by the National Post's Bruce Arthur that the Raptors don't matter, it's not impossible to build something. Despite some disadvantages, it's not the NBA outpost many believe. It's just still a city most players would rather visit than play in (Google Drew Gooden and Canada customs for some background on this).
Yet Nash also represents the past. The future of Canadian basketball lies with the talent we see sitting on the precipice now -- the same talent Nash will be prodding in the next few years to play for their country.
It shouldn't be a goal of the franchise to simply land just any Canadian in the future. It's just that there's going to be a choice of a hell of a lot more of them to choose from.
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