Thursday July 29 2010 – 10:43am Eastern – Toronto, ON
So Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio earlier today and they had some interesting (although uninformed) comments about the city of Toronto and whether or not this is still a viable market for the NBA.
While both hosts admitted that they love the city overall – and enjoy visiting – they said they don’t believe that any star wants to come here and that Americans don’t want to live in Canada. I’m paraphrasing, but those are the basic nuts and bolts of their statements.
If, as Mike and Mike suggest, the NBA needs to ask itself if it wants to be in Toronto … perhaps the Raptors attendance figures should be researched. Take a look at where this team is in those rankings year after year. Not only are the Raps in the upper HALF almost every year, they’ve frequently been in the top 10 in attendance rankings since they came into the league 15 years ago. And while many local media outlets (in Toronto and Canada) choose to ignore this fact, the Raptors local television rankings are among the best in the entire league. I saw a report last year that had Toronto’s TV ratings behind only the Lakers and Cavaliers local numbers.
While Mike and Mike didn’t bring up this issue … let me just say as well … that the ongoing TAX argument is bogus as well. Let’s just forget about the fact that these players are making American dollars and spending Canadian dollars for 6-8 months of the year — and any accountant worth his weight has found every loophole imaginable to make sure these guys aren’t truly paying any more or less than they should (more or less than anyone else) in spite of living in 2 countries during a 12-month span. Plus, I’ve recently seen documents that suggest Toronto / Ontario / Canada’s taxation is no worse than about 75% of the other markets in the NBA; they’re neck-and-neck with every other city’s taxes outside of Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, and San Antonio.
As for the “stars don’t want to come here” and the “no player will become a star here” comments, perhaps I could offer up a few reminders to the folks at ESPN:
- Damon Stoudamire can’t be cited as an legit example by anyone … with a franchise that was still in its infancy; working out the kinks. Oh, and by the way, have folks not heard/read/seen Damon say a NUMBER of times since his departure that leaving Toronto may have been the biggest mistake of his career?
- Tracy McGrady can’t be cited as an example either. He was a young kid who barely saw the floor until midway through his 2nd year. And under the then-existing ridiculous CBA, he had the right to walk as a free agent in his early 20′s! Plus, he not only ‘spurned’ the Raps, he left the Bulls hanging high and dry too. Oh, and by the way, how did leaving T.O. for greener pastures work out for TMAC?
- Kenny Anderson didn’t want to come….who cares.
- Vince Carter not only came, but he conquered as well. He put this team on the U.S. map and major U.S. networks. And … last time I checked … VC signed a long-term deal with Toronto as well (when so many in the States figured it was a sure shot that he was going to bolt).
- When Vince was in Toronto and the team was WINNING (and THAT is the key point — not the CITY) he and the organization had no problem getting the likes of Antonio Davis, Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues, Charles Oakley, Kevin Willis, and many more. Granted, many of those names may not qualify as ‘stars’ but they are/were established players; savvy veterans that had each achieved success in their careers that COULD have scoffed at the idea of coming to Canada … but they didn’t …cause, again, the team was WINNING.
- Chris Bosh was here for three-quarters of a decade! Not only did he NOT bitch and complain about coming to Toronto when he was drafted by the Raps, he welcomed the opportunity AND ended up signing a long-term extension with the team too – and was a 5-times All Star during his time with the Raptors. Hmmm….another star, like Vince, signing in T.O. and achieve success and recognition around the league as well? I thought that didn’t happen with this team?
- Shawn Marion, Jermaine O’Neal, and Hedo Turkoglu had no issue with Toronto or Canada either. Their success in this city is not the issue; we’re just talking about whether they came here with open arms or not. Sure, John Salmons turned his nose up at T.O. – using God’s voice and advice as the reason – but are you losing sleep over John Salmons? I’m not.
How hard is it to do that ‘research’ or to simply ignore those points?
As I’ve said 1,000,000 times, post-season success (or lack there of) is the reason that the organization is not top-of-mind for many free agents or ‘stars’ around the NBA. Five playoff appearances in 15 years and only 1 second-round berth … THAT’S the issue. And that’s a fact.
Everything else is drivel.