On the court there is no denying the lack of success the Toronto Raptors have displayed since the teams inception has left fans disappointed, they own one of the most loyal fan bases in the NBA  crowds have been consistently good at the Air Canada Center.  Sure part of the success in filling the  seats has to do with the mandatory ticket purchases forced upon Maple Leafs season ticket holders but there is another factor.


The grass roots foundation the organization has been building in the community and through the entire country has payed dividends.  Registration among minor basketball associations is up significantly in the decade and a half the Raptors have been around.  Programs and clinics as well as donations to communities to repair or build new basketball courts have all been part of the teams mandate from day one.


History buffs may know that basketball was invented by a Canadian doctor using bottomless peach baskets as nets.  In the following decades the game evolved south of the border and was popularized in America.  For as long as most can remember the National Basketball Association has employed a sprinkling of Canadians in there ranks with few players making much of an impact.


Steve Nash is to this point the greatest NBA player the country has produced.  A sure fire hall of famer the Victoria, British Columbia native and proud Canadian has represented well on both the NBA and international stages.  In 2012 Basketball Canada announced Nash as the general manager of the senior mens team.  With this appointment the still active Los Angeles Lakers point guard has his work cut out for him.


In recent years the national team has had a hard time getting some of the countries marquee players to wear the red and white (im looking at you Jamaal Magloire).  In large part thanks to the Raptors and the increased popularity of the sport there is a new generation of heavy weights knocking on the door, and not one of the group seems opposed to the maple leaf jersey taking up precious weeks of the summer.   Quite the opposite is the case with Andrew Wiggins, a 6 foot 7 hoopster from Vaughn who attends high school in West Virginia and is the top rated high school player in North America currently residing in the graduating class of 2014. “Playing for Canada, it’s an honour, it’s a pleasure. I love it, representing Canada wherever I go.” Wiggins said


Wiggins is only one of a young group of players that includes Brampton’s  Tristan Thompson, a fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft of his current team the Cleveland Cavaliers. Being selected in the four slot made Thompson the highest drafted Canadian born and bred player in history.  Internationally at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in 2008 and the 2009 FIBA Under-19 World Championship Thompson has showed what has many excited in Canadian basketball circles, Commitment.


While the two big names the National Program has to look forward to both grew up in the Toronto Area may be just a matter of population , the fact is the Raptors deserve a ton of credit for their contribution to basketball in this country.

In the years to come Nash’s job as GM may be more difficult than anyone orriginally imagined, but not for the same reasons as his predicessor.  The explosion of high end talent in Canada may leave some players without the minutes the feel they deserve, and in turn egos may need maasaging for the greater good of the team.  If there is one person with the clought and personality to handle the issues that may be fourth coming the national mens basketball team, Steve Nash is that man.


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