I recently had a long conversation with Sherman Hamilton of Raptors T.V and The Score. There was a chunk of that interview that dealt with stuff to do with Canada. I decided that it would make a good blog all on it's own. Sherman Hamilton is a former player for our National team. We talked about Team Canada. We also talked about the prospects of Canadians making it into the NBA and maybe even one day on to the Raptor Roster. Finally we talked about the success in coaching for a guy like Jay Triano and what that means for the prospects of coaches from Canada in the NBA.
I have always been very passionate about this country in this blog. This game of basketball was invented by a Canadian and I take pride in that. I also take pride in our national basketball program. It was a rough summer for the National Program and some have people they blame for that. I did not get into that with Sherm. I just asked the simple question of how we make this program better for the future.
Sherman Hamilton- The main thing I think for Canada Basketball is they have got to get a solid financial base to operate from. Money has been a problem for Canada Basketball for years. Because the program has not been winning consistently enough, there has not been any new money coming in. So for that you have got to network and build relationships in the business community and you have to work from that angle and that has been a struggle.
The other side of it, I think the product on the court can really elevate your ability to create and attract financial situations for the program. I think for the last few years because the product on the court hasn't won, that has created a real problem. Not just in terms of finances, but in terms of attracting to talent to consistently be there summer after summer to develop with the program.
Those two things hand and hand are a recipe for struggle. Basketball Canada has been through that. I think the image of Basketball Canada needs an upgrade. A lot of things from the past have kind of lingered around. It is tough to get through that stuff.
But I will say this, for Canada Basketball there is light at the end of the tunnel. The right people in the right places making the right connections, getting to the right kids that you want to involve in your program. I think all those things are very valuable. I think a guy like Greg Francis who is the head coach of the developmental program in Hamilton. This is a guy who is doing some good things. He is getting to some young talent and he is housing them and he is getting them to play and train and get their schooling together. I think that is one of the things to build from the grass roots and have commitment from your people, when they are 16,17 and 18. They have been involved and they understand that you have invested time into them and money into them and they feel they want to give back. I think that is the key.
I will tell you this James, when I grew up in the program, Basketball Canada is where you wanted to be. Not because of the program. But because playing for your country is something that was really important to all of us. We had been, my group through all of the lower levels leading up to that playing together. So it was like, hey school is out it was time it was time to play for Canada Basketball that was just how it was. I don't think that kind of motivation and loyalty is there anymore. I think Canada Basketball has to do something to work that out. To kind of bring back that idea that playing for your country is special because James it really is.
I agree with what Sherman is saying. It is to bad that we do not have the same value for kids playing for Canada Basketball as we do for things like the World Juniors in hockey. There is just a built in pressure for the young people that are good enough to play for their country in hockey. Basketball does not have that same level of national pride tied to it and it should for everyone. Anyone that has invested the time and effort to represent this country deserves to be respected. It should also be something that you truly value if you are asked to do it. It is sad that a guy like Jammal Maglorie has never put on a Canada Basketball Jersey. He has no problem putting on whatever NBA jersey that will be offered to him to earn a great living. I have shared my views in the past on Nash, Maglorie and the entire Canada Basketball topic. If you are new to the blog click on the link to our old wordpress site and read the stuff I wrote from the summer time.
There is more talent in basketball in this country than in the past. You only need to look to the NCAA programs in the U.S for proof of that. Every March there are many Canadian players that are part of March Madness. There is a growing level of play in the CIS as well. But I think the major question becomes for Raptor fans and NBA fans is when can we expect the next wave of Canadian talent to hit the NBA. Steve Nash, Joel Anthony, Sam Dalembert and Jamal Maglorie are there now. In the past we had guys like Rick Fox and a few other names. So I asked Sherm when can we expect the next generation to break into the NBA.
Sherman Hamilton- That is really a great question. When you look at the league right now you have 4 guys that you mentioned. Really all of those guys coming out of Canada, you can't say that any of them coming out of high school were locks to go to the NBA. So, even when they went to college they build their resumes. For all of them it took till like 3 or 4th year before they were being considered for an NBA situation for them. I think it is early right now, I think the wave of talent(In NCAA) has hit a bit of a bump in the road, but I think it is coming back. When that is, I do not know. I think there is a wave of talent that is going to be coming through that is going to do Canada proud, I think it is a shame that our country with the amount of talent we have here is no more represented in the NBA. But I do think that day is coming. Hopefully some of these young guys can come up through the ranks and put their stamp on the NBA.
The one thing since the start of the Raptor Franchise has been a real desire to see a Canadian suit up for the Raptors. In the past there have been large amounts of fans that have wanted to see Toronto native Jamal Maglorie come home and play for the Raptors. In recent times we have heard talk of Steve Nash coming home to end his career with the Raptors. I didn't ask him about that. But what I did ask was about the general idea of the first Canadian born Raptor and what it would mean for the organization to have that player whoever it may be. Should it matter and be important for the franchise?
Sherman Hamilton- I have always been a firm believer in putting the best team on the floor. If that happens to be a Canadian in a Raptor uniform, I am all for it. I think it would do wonders, not just for the city of Toronto, not just for Canada. But I think it would do a great job in terms of having someone go out there and feeling proud to be a Canadian and be on the only Canadian team in the NBA. I think it is something that would be great.
But I do not want to see and this is something I never want to see happen. I do not want to see the token Canadian on the end of the bench, collecting a check, doing all the community relations stuff. Just because it is about time for a Canadian to be on the Raptor roster. That is what I would not like to see and I think it would defeat the purpose. I would like to see a quality player on this roster that is for Canada, getting minutes and playing a significant role and helping the team win games. That for me would be the ultimate goal for having a Canadian on the roster.
We actually do have a Canadian on the bench. In fact a couple of them now. I asked Sherman Hamilton for his thoughts on Raptors assistant Coach Jay Triano and his rise in the ranks from a coaching perspective. Triano to some was thought to have been a token hire by the Raptors. But he has shown that he is well respected in the NBA. The biggest proof of that is his work with the United States Basketball Program. They had a pretty good summer and Jay Triano was one of the people that was helping make that happen as part of U.S.A basketball. He is of course also the former coach of our National Team and is the last to lead them to the Olympics with some help from Steve Nash in 2000. So what about that aspects of Canadians in the NBA?
Sherman Hamilton- Jay Triano has done a great job. People were wondering if that was a token situation but obviously it wasn't. He has shown that he is a quality assistant coach in the NBA. He has done a great job for the Raptors. He even had the respect of the people in U.S.A Basketball organization. He worked for them with the scout team to prepare the Dream Team and did scouting for them. Jay has garnered a lot of respect for the things he has done as an assistant coach. I think it is great him and it great for Canada to have an assistant coach in the NBA.
I think that situation is great. But there is also Gord Herbert who is also Canadian as well. He played on Team Canada back in the day with Jay Triano. He has been working with Roko Ukic and Andrea Bargnani a bit. I think he is another great situation for the Raptors. It is good to see some Canadian blood in the NBA coaching ranks and I think both really has deserved this opportunity they have and are doing a good job with it.
I really enjoyed this part of the conversation I had with Sherm. I am proud to be Canadian and this blog is a lot of things. But it does take on the things that I feel passionate about. Being Canadian and my pride in that fact is at the top of the list. We also have great people in broadcasting that our Canadian. Sherman Hamilton is establishing himself as someone who is on the rise to having success in his post basketball career. I thank him for his time. I hope he will return at some point just like the other guests we have had in the past. He is doing a heck of a lot of stuff and it is nice that he and all the other people I talk with make time for me and all of you that read the Dino Nation Blog. Bobcats and Raptors are starting soon need to get ready for that. So hope you all enjoyed this proudly Canadian edition of the Dino Nation Blog.