The Eternal City
Andrea Bargnani is exactly what the Raptors need.
He finishes the game with 38 points, but I swear he could have gone for 44 because I don’t think he would have missed from anywhere down the stretch. Instead, with the opportunity of getting the ball to the big man with the hot hand, Raptors point guard Jose Calderon opts to put up two consecutive bricks. And the Raptors’ slim chances of victory were then none.
Long after the game, I see Bargnani talking to someone in the tunnel leading out towards the exits. Obviously remembering our earlier conversation, he looks over at me and cracks a smile as if to say, that’s how we do. Words are not all that necessary to convey his obvious joy in having put it on Bosh and Dampier, even if it was just a losing effort.
Bosh, on the other hand, seems very much at ease as the third wheel in Miami. It is a role that suits him perfectly. He isn’t asked to shoulder the burden of leadership and paralyze himself with the strain of that role. Some say we are all promoted to our level of incompetence and in Toronto, that may have been the case for Bosh. He was never ready to be the man.
At the post-game press conference, Bosh and his pals Wade and LeBron laughed at the suggestion that they would have ever considered combining forces in Toronto. The absurdity of ever thinking of Toronto as a place where an NBA player would knowingly choose to play had Wade practically falling off his chair.
In recent years, one might think that Toronto would have become a choice destination for NBA players. The Government of Canada now grows and sells some of the strongest cannabis in the world, for so-called medicinal purposes. You have a broken fingernail, and the Canadian medical establishment will have you smoking the Kush on your walk home. A policeman might stop you, and may even ask for a toke.
And this same Government has recently legalized prostitution. In other words, Canada is one big red light district rivaling the likes of Amsterdam in its heyday. Based on the NBA player behavior I’ve seen, that should be more than enough to attract some of the league’s top players.
Instead, Toronto struggles to keep American guys in town and the team’s management knows it. So they trade for international guys like Frenchman Alexis Ajinca.
Back to Bargnani. I believe he has the temperament to someday be the man. And he can shoot the lights out. And he’s about seven feet tall. And he’s probably not pining to live anywhere in particular in North America.
On so many levels, Bargnani seems like the right choice for Toronto. As he grows into his role as a scoring machine, just don’t ask him to play defense.