Raptors adopt international flavor of city that surrounds them
It's entirely possible that, at various times in the Toronto Raptors' 2009-10 season, play-by-play man
At which point viewers in the greater Toronto area will wonder when Rogers Cable went shortwave and added a Radio Free Europe station to their package.
But as long as Devlin and Raptors radio man
That may not be so easy on the most micro basketball level, where the really important words are all spelled with X's and O's.
"My biggest problem when we start training camp," Raptors coach
It all makes sense, actually, given how driven the NBA and commissioner
"I don't think it's anything that we specifically tried to address, saying we need to be more international," said Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and a longtime player and coach of Canada's national team before replacing the fired
Lots of cities have ethnic neighborhoods, but the Raptors' front office has a decided overseas and innovative bent to it. Colangelo arrived in February 2006 from Phoenix, where Euro-trained
"We ended up having Delfino and Nesterovic," Triano said, "and we had
"Those guys came over and they seemed to have the same type of bond that teams over in Europe have, where it wouldn't be uncommon for six or seven or eight of them to go out for dinner together when they land in a city," Triano said. "Sometimes in the NBA, that's a rarity; guys seem to go their own way. But our team seems to do that."
The Raptors are the first team to openly tilt their roster in a particular direction. Charlotte and coach
Some have portrayed it as a defensive maneuver, based on Toronto's spotty history at luring or retaining U.S. free agents. Most players grow up in the States, dreaming of playing for teams in the States, not cultivating much of a taste for foreign tax codes and tricky spellings.
"That could be true," Triano said. "The North American players who have played in Toronto, though, I think it's just a matter of being educated by the city and playing here a couple times.
The big question is whether NBA fans, if they didn't have high-def TV and couldn't read the names on the backs of the jerseys, would be able to identify the Raptors by their style. Will anything about Toronto's game shout "international"?
"That will fall on me," Triano said. "With my experience in playing overseas and coaching the Canadian team, and [assistant coach]
"One thing is, they expect long practices. One of the players said to me, 'Yeah, a two-hour practice is extremely common.' Now the length of the NBA season says you can't always afford to practice that long. But these guys have grown up being coached. Not that North American kids haven't, but a lot of times, they get put into the AAU programs where the emphasis is on the games and the [individual] performance, instead of the coaching and the team."
While a Euro style generally is thought to be entertaining at the least, it also has given rise to the cliché regarding toughness, a charge, Triano said, was addressed in Toronto by adding
Triano isn't so sure. "I think we've done the job in the offseason. Now it's just a matter of playing the right way," the coach said. "If I had to guess, and I've known Chris a long time, he doesn't know what he's going to do. I don't think he has a master plan right now, like a lot of people are speculating. ... He's a 25-year-old kid who, like you and I at one time, maybe doesn't know what he's going to do next month, let alone in 2010."
Triano said Bosh, coming off his second 20-point, 10-rebound season, is fine toting the Stars and Stripes in the Raptors' parade of flags.
"Jose and Chris are very good friends," he said. "He's gone over to work Jose's camps. They're very tight. I know Chris talked to Hedo before he signed and is excited that we got him. So bottom line, guys are good basketball players and competitors -- they see somebody who's going to help them get to a higher level, they're going to accept it."
Regardless, maybe, of cuisine, currency or international phone surcharges.