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What once might have been a big basketball story is no longer that, which is a good thing


It is a sign of how far things have moved along that what once would have been a significant story is now just part of the tale when it comes the run-up to the NBA draft around these parts.

The Raptors have started to scratch the surface of the never-ending gang workout process – four in the last week or so and many more to come, I suspect – and the fact the groups have included a handful of Canadians is no longer a big story.

They’ve had five in so far, Justin Jackson, Xavier Rathan-Mayes and MiKyle McIntosh yesterday, Dillon Brooks the day before, Dylan Ennis last week, and no one really batted an eye.

“Not doing it on purpose,” was how personnel guru Dan Tolzman put it yesterday. “It’s a sign of what basketball is becoming up here.”

There was a time not too long ago that the Raptors might invite a token local or two in basically as a courtesy, a favour to the kid or his agent or his family or the greater community and that was it.

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Now, not only with the depth of talent in these parts but also because of the existence of the Unfortunately Named Mississaugas these kids are persons of legitimate interest to Masai and his Henchmen.

“It’s an indication that so many good NCAA players happen to be from the area … It’s been pretty impressive, even the last couple of years, the increasing numbers and I only see it getting more and more,” Tolzman told us in his daily recap of the sessions.

Now, I don’t think any of the Canadian gang that have been here so far are on any radar for Toronto’s 23rd pick next month but I do think most of them will be in the thought process if the Raptors manage to cadge a second-round pick in some draft night trade or if they have to fill out a Summer League or G-League training camp roster.

And that’s fine. I wasn’t all that comfortable back in the day with the small measure of tokenism that went with some of the workout invites, I always thought that no matter a player’s passport that the Raptors didn’t need to find a “Canadian” to trot out because it was neither legitimate nor in the kid’s best interest if they had no hope.

Now?

Now things have evolved so much and the depth of talent not only locally but right across the country makes all of these invites real and the possibility of a handful of them making either a Summer League team or the minor league roster next fall.

I guess it’s not surprising that there are so many very good teenagers and early-20s players, we’ve seen this coming for the better part of a decade and this last week shows just how far things have come.

And the fact it’s not a huge story – it’s a thing but it’s not a big or surprising thing, I guess is the better way to put it – is kind of comforting, isn’t it?
We all know the talent level is tremendous here and, in our own way, I don’t think we have to continually trumpet that fact. That other parts of the basketball world are finally catching on speaks more about them, I’d say; we are doing the Canadian thing, being quietly proud of where things are without continually singing it from the high heavens.

And happy birthday wishes to Mr. Zimmerman.

We have to agree that Roger Moore was the best Bond, right?

Okay, maybe he ties with Sean Connery but that’s about as far as I go.

I know – or at least I hear because I pay scant attention to it – that there are lots of “super powers” in pop culture today, real or fictitious and if that’s what floats your boat, it’s all good.

But for us Of A Certain Vintage, James Bond was it, right?

Debonair, adventurous, always finding his way out of sticky wickets and often willing to bend the rules of society just a little bit to take are of whichever nefarious characters was threatening the world in some crazy way.

Super Dad was a huge Bond fan and hanging around with him in the living room on Sunday or Saturday nights when whichever movie was finally being shown on TV was a very cool part of childhood.

Plus, Bond Girls. Am I right?

Well, at least the TFCs got an away goal in the pursuit of a Canadian soccer title so I guess that’s good, right?

All right, there’s little chance that I want, or will, work each morning this weekend but there needs to be mail because that’s how we roll here.

And that puts the pressure on you to get cracking early and help me out.

Anything goes, as it always does, and askdoug@thestar.ca is the place to be. Not a lot going on in the world of the Raptors so extend your boundaries and ask whatever’s on your mind. You’ll feel better.

It’s that time again.

Steaks on the weekend, did up some sausages last night and if anyone’s got any new barbecue tips/ideas/recipes/innovations, I’m all ears.

Hang on! The Memorial Cup’s going on?

Good for all the teenage pucksters and those who follow them but until they go back to old “eight point” series between two teams in one city I’m probably not going to get as invested in it as I should.

Yeah, I long for the olden days and still remember lying in bed as a kid listening to Rick Jeanneret on CJRN 710 doing Niagara Falls Flyers games and the Flyers-Estevan Bruins series will always resonate.

Yep, I’m old and long for a simpler time.

There’s a better than average chance that at some point this afternoon I’ll click away from the Blue Jays game to watch a bit of the Europa Cup final and while I don’t really have a rooting interest, I’m pretty sure the heart will be on the side of Manchester United, right?

Monolithic or not, that seems the right thing to do.

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