“No matter how this championship goes, I feel like we’ve reached our goals this summer,” Gherardini said in a telephone interview after landing in San Juan, site of the 2009 tournament. “I think there’s more awareness about playing for your country. Playing for your country shouldn’t be a question; it is something you should do.”
Gherardini’s collaboration with the Canadian federation is an outgrowth of the Raptors’ desire to positively affect the game nationally.
“It’s a natural relationship,” said Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo, who suggested Gherardini get involved in Canada Basketball. “A stronger national team program is good for all of basketball in Canada and good for us.”
The Raptors will once again turn to All-Star power forward Chris Bosh to lead the team. Bosh has experienced his fair share of ups and downs as the franchise player for the Toronto Raptors. He led them to their first Atlantic Division title just three seasons ago, but the Raptors have regressed each season since then.
However, this season is different for Bosh and the Raptors. Bosh’s contract is up at the end of the season and he will look to prove to everybody around the league that he is worthy of a max contract and is capable of leading his team to the playoffs. Look for Bosh to step up his game this season on both ends of the floor.
Jose Calderon’s hamstring injury last season caused him to miss several games and severely limited his playing ability when he tried to play through it.
While I admire Calderon’s willingness to sacrifice his body for the sake of others, I still strongly disagree with his chosen course of action.
3. Andrea Bargnani, Raptors: Few players in the league will benefit more from an offseason acquisition than Bargnani will from Toronto’s sign-and-trade for Hedo Turkoglu. With his face-up ability, Bargnani will do more with Turkoglu’s side pick-and-roll action than Dwight Howard was able to do in Orlando. One caveat: Picking Bargnani violates the rule of selecting players poised for breakout years when they’re playing for a contract. Bargnani received his $50 million extension this summer, so his future already is in the bank. But after an utterly clueless 2007-08 season, Bargnani’s efficiency and confidence improved dramatically last season — especially after the addition of Jermaine O’Neal. Expect another jump for the 2006 No. 1 pick.
TC: Is there a point where there is too much depth for a team?
TC: Do you feel that this team is straddling that line?
JT: No, I want that depth because the one thing you can never account for is injuries. If everyone stays healthy all of the time then we’re going to have a little bit of a problem, but it’s going to be a good problem. It’s going to be a problem this year when we’re going "which three guys do we put in suits tonight?" instead of "who the heck do we put into the game?" So it’s kind of flipped this year.
Some players achieve greatness, others have it thrust upon them. Bosh is a product of the two blurring lines. When he first arrived in Toronto, Vince Carter was the franchise, whether leading them in scoring or the sole marketing option for Raptors executives. He had grown unhappy with Toronto’s plan for him and requested a trade from the city that had embraced him when Toronto failed to bring in a veteran presence, opting to stick with Bosh. After Toronto obliged, Bosh was thrust into the position of leader. He had a couple of options at that point. He could crack under the pressure of being the face of a franchise, struggling under the weight of expectations, or he could embrace the role handed to him and mature into an elite performer. He chose door number two and has led the Raptors on and off the court for the majority of this decade.