Is Toronto NBA Worthy?

So I’m sitting at the office, working away, ESPN Radio on quietly in the background and I hear Mike and Mike start talking about Bryan Colangelo and his comments recently to Mccown and Mr. Mcgoo (Shannon). The discussion between the two centered on just a couple of points, primarily, is Toronto a worthwhile market for the NBA, did Bryan Colangelo question Chris Bosh’s heart/integrity?

Now, to be fair to the hosts, this wasn’t a bash Toronto conversation. Unless total lip service, both guys said they love it here and that it’s a great city. However “No American wants to live there, in another country.”

So, what did Mike and Mike say? Here’s a brief summary:

First they played the parts of the Colangelo interview where Bryan discussed the inability to build around Bosh, and where he discussed that Bosh “may” have made up his mind earlier in the season about leaving and where Bryan discussed Bosh being cleared to play pending his pain tolerance.

After the clip, the consensus between the hosts was that Colangelo was at the very least suggesting that Chris Bosh quit on the team. At the very least they said, Colangelo suggested that Bosh may have checked out prior to the end of the season, which is to suggest that he quit.

Mike Greenberg then switched gears and said that he couldn’t get Bosh to discuss what he considers the “bigger picture” when he was co-hosting prior to leaving for Miami, and that is Toronto as an NBA Market. Again, both guys suggested that the NBA is going to “have to ask itself if it wants to be in Toronto.” They stated flat out that “no star wants to play in Toronto” and suggested again that “the NBA is going to ask itself if it’s worth having a team in Toronto”.

That’s where they both said how much they loved Toronto but…..

“No star wants to play in Toronto and Americans don’t want to live in another country”. They continued talking about much they like Vancouver but that “there are clear cultural and economic differences.”

They stayed on the topic and reiterated that “no player will become a star while playing in Toronto.”

Now, before you mention Vince Carter, Mike and Mike went there too:

“Vince Carter was a star in Toronto but he would have been a bigger start in a US market.”

They said that it was clear Bosh want’s to be a star and perhaps he realized that wasn’t going to happen in Toronto.

The conversation then changed to Colangelo’s comments on Bosh. With respect to Colangelo’s commenting on Bosh being cleared to play pending his tolerance (to pain) and not doing so for several games, they said at the very least Colangelo was question Bosh’s heart and perhaps integrity. Mike and Mike talked about the timing of the decision on Bosh not to play, how the Raptors perhaps could have made the playoffs if he had played and whether Bosh may have been thinking about where he was going next season at the point, or at least Colangelo’s suggestion of such was an attack on Bosh’s integrity.

That concluded the discussion until they read an email from a listener who suggested that compared Colangelo’s comments to those of Cleveland Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert’s infamous Comic Sans note. They discussed whether or not the comments were or weren’t similar, whether Colangelo should have made them and the obvious reasons why neither Gilbert or Colangelo could have made them during the season or “courting” period.

Will try to track any reaction.

Here’s my only comment the Raptors had the 14th best attendance in the NBA (out of 30). in 2009, they were 10th in attendance. In 2007 they were 9th. Their tv numbers are good. While there is a decline at least in terms of rank, that doesn’t suggest to me a market in which a league would be concerned. By comparison, over the same 3 seasons, the Pacers and Grizzlies have been in the bottom 5 of the league.

Just my 2 cents.



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Raptors Devotee
July 29, 2010 10:31 am

I covered everything on Twitter on how I interpreted it, so don’t feel like rewriting it. You can go to and read my tweets on the subject. Just scroll down past the Tim Raines HOF part and his interesting comments comparing himself to Ricky Henderson. Fascinating stuff there too.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
July 29, 2010 10:36 am

With the Raptor mangement mess and constant state of flux in the roster, why would ANY player (American or other) want to play for this group?

I do not hear Baseball, Hockey or Football players complaining about playing in Toronto.

Raptors Devotee
July 29, 2010 10:48 am

Al, I look at it this way. First, football is a non-starter, we are talking the CFL here. Any American who could not cut it in the NFL of course has no problems coming here for a pay cheque.

Hockey? Toronto is one of the Canadian cities that is a desirable location for American players. If we were talking Edmonton, diffeerent story.

Baseball: There have been cases but not that many. Scott Rolen comes to mind immediately. It is pretty rare in baseball for American not wanting to play here.

Basketball; The culture and the type of sport makes Toronto/Canada not the place to be. This is just a fact, and I am at a loss how to change it. Even winning, top organization who go over the luzury cap, and a PR campaign to extoll the virtues of Toronto would likely not be enough. This is why the way the Raptors are assembled needs to be consistent with keeping and attracting the types of players that Want to play and more importantly, Stay here.

Swirsky's Soldier
Swirsky's Soldier
July 29, 2010 11:52 am

“I do not hear Baseball, Hockey or Football players complaining about playing in Toronto’

Devotee clearly explained Hockey and Football. However for baseball, there was a interview with JP Riccarddi a week or two ago who said nearly this exact thing. Its difficult to get players to come to Toronto to play. Its never on the top of their list of options. Doesn’t mean its impossible.. just an added handicap

While a winning cures all, creating the ‘winning culture’ is more difficult if

1) players don’t want to come
2) players don’t want to stay

While I don’t think there is a need to eliminate a team from Toronto… I think Toronto fans just need to be more patient. Start supporting guys who actually do want to be here. Don’t expect to be a contender any time soon. And stop trying to chase GMs out of town when these players create difficult situations for them (ie. Glen Grunwald… and now Colangelo)

Raptors Devotee
July 29, 2010 11:58 am

Interesting point from Swirsky’s Soldier about what JP said via Swirsky’s Soldier. It makes sense though. The Jays have done a much better job than the Raptors in terms of not making it much of an issue, even if the issue is there.

I do know that Alex is investing heavily in the Caribbean again for talent, something that JP did not do during his tenure here, which is surprising given what he said about U.S. players not wanting to play here, or at least not their first choice.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
July 29, 2010 12:08 pm

Raptors Devotee – I never have really thought about this before in the context of Canada not being the right culture or place to be for BBall players, specifically Americans. Do you think this is a primary reason the Raptors target Euro players?

Raptors Devotee
July 29, 2010 12:17 pm

Al, there is no question that this is the primary driving force as to why the Raptors have gone in this direction.

Remember, Colangelo quickly hired Mauricio Gherardini as his Assistant GM, since he was known as the Godfather of European basketball, and also played a key role in Bargnani’s development, spotting him at a young age.

There have been some solid European acqisitions, like Garbajosa before his ankle injury, but also a lot of failures too.

Even so, I agree with this philosophy, since it is based on reality. The problem last year with Turkoglu on the team was it drove a wedge between the Americans and Euros on the team. This can’t happen again, and it did because the Raptors were too weak to deal with it, and alos because Chris Bosh is not a true leader.

Having said that, the Raptors of late are making more of an effort to rely on young American players, so maybe they are changing their tune a bit on this.

July 29, 2010 12:54 pm

“Is Toronto a worthwhile market for the NBA?”

It depends how you define “worthwhile”. If Toronto makes money (on average) for the rest of the owners and doesn’t embarrass the league, giddyup.

I don’t think you can define as whether going to Toronto can make a player a big star (from the player’s point of view).

Allen Davis
Allen Davis
July 29, 2010 1:05 pm

Im just curious with all honesty, if there were a vote where each american nba player were to give their true honest opinion about playing in canada (toronto) IN PRIVATE which means not putting a name to their answer. Who would truthfully say that toronto is their choice of city to play in and love to play and live there. Of course when put in front of the media theyre going to say the nicest things because come on its toronto media! and they wouldn’t dare to make themselves look bad. But if this were a private poll, i wonder what their answers would be then.

July 29, 2010 4:47 pm

Their comments are stupid and poorly thought out..

The Raptors are not one of the weaker franchises in the NBA, why would the league need to look at whether it wants to be here? Do they have any idea how much Memphis or Charlotte is struggling? Those are the types of franchises that might have concerns going forward – not a multicultural, wealthy city of 5.5 million people.

There’s no issues with attendance, TV ratings or fan interest. But it’s been a bad team. THAT’S why players don’t want to come here.

Give me a break. Their comments don’t deserve a second thought.

July 29, 2010 5:10 pm

Thank you for the discussion and bringing it up (for that I’ll forgive you in comparing soccer to badminton) This reminds me of the ridiculous comment E Smith said a week or so back in saying “Players should be happy here, they want a national exposure they have it here, every Raptor game is on nationally” I can’t believe he thought that was some sort of intelligent comment, like these guys from Texas care if they are on New Brunswick or Red Deer. Could you be anymore insulting to the intellect of Raptors fan with a comment like that.

I think it’s a good question to ask if the NBA wants to be here, because in the past decade they pretty much treated the team like an afterthought (similar with MLB) When was the last time the Raps were on TNT or ABC/ESPN. That sort of stuff is important to players, heck it’s important to me as a fan. I am a huge TFC fan, and we have had a couple of home games (home opener & July first game) on ESPN, it’s very cool as me as a fan to talk to family or even other soccer fans around continent about a specific game & my team that they just saw. That is something Raps fans NEVER are able to do. So it that’s important to me as a schmuck fan, of course that important to an ego filled player.

I think the Raps should try to do a deal with the NBA, if we are in the top third in attendance we get a national game down there, if we are lets say top third in winning percentage after a certain time we get another game. But you can’t treat a team with constant “in other NBA scores” attitude like we have down there. The NFL does it perfectly, they focus on teams not cities, teams like Bills, Packs, Vikings etc are all on SNF or MNF and are treated like equals. Favre & Payton are a couple of most marketable players, they don’t play in huge markets, GBay, Minn, and Indy are far from that, but the NFL market them and the team. V Carter was a bigger overall star while here compared to his time in Jersey or Orlando .

What I am concerned is when are the fans going to backlash, I have a friend in Vancouver who said after the Steve Francis debacle a lot of general sports fans just thought “F them all, we have a great city with or without you” there is no real uproar of bringing them back or missing them. I’m against a second NHL team because I like a diverse sports city, but even I am getting sick of the constant bad taste left by every star Rap player who leaves. I’m tired of the whining of taxes, ESPN, passports or the metric system. I am so close to going to the other side and saying “bring in a second NHL team and screw these guys”. Maybe the NBA player personality is just not cut for being here with players who can’t see past their own nose, let alone borders.

M. Gates
M. Gates
July 29, 2010 9:40 pm

Build a winner.

They will come.

July 29, 2010 11:45 pm

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that there were all these stories on how Toronto is the place that all NBA players want to party in? Now the city isn’t “NBA worthy”? (but Charlotte, Minnesota, Milwaukee etc all are apparently)

Secondly, Mike & Mike is terrible. Far worse than anything the Fan has put out. Neither of them know much and their big, dumb, slow, ex-jock/small, effeminate, cheap, jew shtick gets old after about 5 minutes. Do not take anything those 2 morons say seriously.

John C.
July 30, 2010 4:55 am

Given the choice between Toronto and Salt Lake City, Indianapolis or Sacramento, who would a non-Mormon anybody rather play for?

I have 2 things for you’s to read, concerning this …

August 11, 2010 10:11 pm

swirsky’s soldiers chipper jones was complaining about Toronto during the world baseball classic last year


[…] topic has been discussed by Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio and with Chris Bosh the latest star to leave tread […]

September 15, 2010 10:29 am

Thanks for the post! Obviously, Toronto isn’t going to compete as a city with LA or Boston or Miami or anything, but as you said, they are doing better than half the teams in the league right now. It may not be a “big star” market, but it can still contribute the the NBA.

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