Former NBA All-Stars Explain Frustrating Process Playing Raptors in Toronto

Former All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Kenyon Martin said dealing with border security coming into Canada to play the Toronto Raptors was frustrating during their playing days
Nov 16, 2010; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (9) dribbles past Toronto Raptors guard Marcus Banks (3) during the third quarter at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 16, 2010; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (9) dribbles past Toronto Raptors guard Marcus Banks (3) during the third quarter at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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It turns out it wasn't just the 2020-21 season in which the Toronto Raptors had a unique homecourt advantage.

Former NBA all-stars Kenyon Martin and Gilbert Arenas say they knew players who tried to avoid trips to Toronto due to the frustrating process of going through border customs.

"We was sitting there like, man, we’re going to Toronto. C’mon man. My ankle hurts coach," Arenas said on a recent episode of the No Chill with Gilbert Arenas show. "I ain’t trying to go through that bullsh*t."

Crossing the international border means players with legal charges are under increased scrutiny and are typically subjected to lengthy investigations at the border, Arenas said. The former Washington Wizards star admitted to being stopped by border security due to his own legal issues while his team tried to make a trip north.

Martin's primary complaint was how NBA players are still treated like civilians and are forced to restrict their liquids when crossing the border, he said.

"You can’t even bring your toiletry bag back through the airport after the game because we’ve got to through the airport after the game and through security," he said. "You can’t even fucking bring your toiletry bag like you’re a f***ing civil(ian)."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian border security prohibited unvaccinated players from crossing the border allowing the Raptors to play a few slightly shorthanded teams. Some opponents opted to avoid bringing their top players to Toronto to avoid potential COVID-19 testing at the border.

Martin did note that Toronto is a "cool" city once past through customs.


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Aaron Rose

AARON ROSE

Aaron Rose is a Toronto-based reporter covering the Toronto Raptors since 2020.