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Desire to be Olympians has to drive missing basketball players


That was a helluva weekend, wasn’t it?

Serena. Milos. Portugal.

And, of course, the men’s basketball team and we should take one more look at it for the summer before we devote more attention to the women, who beat China again, 74-62 in Edmonton last night before the wrap up to this segment of their Olympic preparation tonight out there.

The men?

Not so good, not so successful and while it’s not back to square one by any stretch of the imagination, it’s going to be quiet for them for a while.

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Next up is qualifying for the 2019 World Cup – it’s convoluted and involves four different sessions, two of which are in the NBA season but there are seven spots for FIBA Americas and if Canada can’t be top seven in FIBA Americas they ought to shutter the entire program.

We’ll deal with that when it comes around because the biggie to so many is the Olympics and, after yesterday, the drought will be 20 years if they manage to make it in 2020.

Steve Nash had some interesting points to make about the Olympics and what they mean in this wrapup story from yesterday and I honestly think that’s a big part of players not wanting to play for Canada – the Games don’t mean as much as I think they should.

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We all know this group of Canadian basketball players has the talent to be the best ever. That’s not really in debate but it’s also not the issue.

The issue is wanting to make history, wanting to be Olympians, wanting to have a country rally around you because the Games are special.

And yeah, it takes time out from a summer and a sense of responsibility to the players from the past and those in the future and I don’t know if enough of them have burning desire to be special.

I do know that guys like Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson and Tyler Ennis do and I don’t think we can say enough about guys like Levon Kendall and Joel Anthony, whose national team careers likely ended in Manila on Sunday morning.

Kendall and Anthony have been there forever, they played in the summers when there was nothing to play for, they lived through the roughest of the patches because they wanted to build something, wanted to represent their country and try to do put in place a history-making program.

I can’t imagine how any of you will see them but if you ever do, say thanks. They deserve it.

The others? Until they find that desire to consistently be part of the program, not to pick and choose when or where they want to play, the Golden Age of Canadian basketball will be something abstract, a “what if” rather than a “what is.”

I don’t know what the answer is but I know where to find it:

In the hearts of athletes who have a chance to do something truly memorable for themselves and their country.

This work today?

I gotta tell ya, the celebration at the tables behind me while perched on the usual stool yesterday for the soccer (hi, Jack Astor’s Square 1) was raging and it was cool to see.

There’s this group of Portuguese fans – let’s call them Mike And His Merry Band – who occupied the same seats for virtually every Portugal game in the entire Euros, cheering and yelling, belting out the national anthem before the game and to see their joy at the victory was fascinating.

You all know I don’t get caught up in fandom very much – been too close to too many games/sports/teams to truly let loose – but watching those folks up close for a couple of weeks was telling.

I didn’t have a dog in the hunt on Sunday afternoon but I was pretty glad Portugal won so those fans could somehow be rewarded.

Oh yeah, we’re back in the studio for yet another I’ll Have Another podcast this morning – it should be available for public consumption later on this afternoon – so you’ve only got a couple of hours if you want to get in on listener mail.

Do it on the tweeter with #IHApodcast and She Who Supports Arsenal will find it because I don’t how to.

I am probably not going to watch the major league home run derby tonight because (a) I find it mind-numbingly boring and (b) Chris Berman but I guarantee I would if they had invited a pitcher or two to take part or even made it all pitchers.

That would be cool and new and maybe interesting and probably would garner at least a few casual fans more than the same old, same old.

It’s hard to jazz up the night before any all-star game, the contests are old and timeworn in many respects and going a bit outside the box would at least be new and if it didn’t work, oh well

I wouldn’t even mind, say, a four-pitcher side contest just to break up the monotony.

The Raptors didn’t do anything on the weekend that got out in public.

Just pointing that out to make sure Monday morning isn’t all fun for everyone.

Maybe today they’ll make a move. Or maybe not.

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