Nearly a week removed from the madness that was the Steve Nash sweepstakes, ESPN’s Marc Stein wrote a fascinating piece detailing the scenes as Nash embarked on his big decision. It’s certainly worth a read, and based on how directly involved the Raptors were during the whole saga, the story, “How Steve Nash Became A Laker,” has a ton of Raptors-related tid-bits.

I’ve highlighted a few of those below:

Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo was the first caller to get through shortly after 12:01 a.m.

To no one’s surprise, Colangelo and co. were the most eager to get things started, obviously believing their impressive offer and presentation could immediately convince Nash to come “home.” Speaking of that presentation, it appears as though all of the hype was legit. Here’s Stein on how the Raptors tried to sell Nash on Toronto:

The Raptors were first up at 10:30 a.m., with a seven-strong contingent of team officials arriving on a cross-country flight arranged by Raptors co-owner Larry Tanenbaum.” Stein names Tanenbaum, Colangelo, Dwane Casey and Jay Triano specifically as four of the seven who made the trek, and states that the offer was presented at Tanenbaum’s Central Park apartment in Manhattan.

The food was lavish and the contract offer rich, but the video compilation Colangelo ordered up for the occasion made an impression on Nash that moved him more than a three-year, $36 million pitch ever could.” Remember the rumours about the presentation including a taped plea from Wayne Gretzky? Well according to Stein’s report, Gretzky didn’t just appear in the video, he narrated it.

More than one person in the room would later say that Nash was fighting back tears watching it all. “We all were,” Duffy (Nash’s agent) said. ‘It was like watching a Hall of Fame video.’” So the Raptors not only made the biggest financial offer, but also put together a video presentation narrated by “The Great One” himself, which nearly moved Nash to tears. ‘A’ for effort, I guess?

As Stein’s report on the events continues, it becomes evident that the Raptors and Knicks wanted a decision made as soon as possible, while Nash and his camp needed more time. Stein quotes Duffy as saying “They wanted us to close the deal right then,”  while also describing the difficulty Nash would have had playing so far away from his children.

Still, Stein quotes Nash as admitting “Monday morning I was ready to decide between New York and Toronto.”

Colangelo reportedly remained in New York until late Tuesday and hoped for an answer from Nash before heading back to T.O. We obviously know how the story ends, in heartbreaking fashion for Raptors fans, but if it’s any consolation, Nash says he “was really close at times to being a Raptor or Knick,” adding “…to go home to Toronto was a dream opportunity in a lot of different ways.”

Though from a fan’s perspective, perhaps knowing how close we were only hurts more.

As for Colangelo, he handled getting turned down with class, being quoted by ESPN.com as saying “Our financial offer and the long-term opportunity for Steve were certainly better, but I can’t fault a guy for putting his family ahead of everything else. The fact that that he will be competing for a title made this easy for him. I’m still disappointed, but I completely understand his decision. As a friend, I wish him well.” In wrapping up the Raptors-related points from Stein’s story, he says that Nash called Colangelo and Tanenbaum separately to tell them he would become a Laker.

At the end of the day, I don’t understand the backlash from the group of Raptors fans who feel Nash somehow turned his back on his country. Normally, players are criticized for putting money ahead of winning. In Nash’s case, he put family and his quest for an overdue championship ahead of the chance to make roughly an extra $9 million playing in his home country, but in a city that’s farther from where he grew up than L.A. probably is. I’ll also point out that if you feel Nash owed something to the Raptors simply because the team is based in Canada, then you’ll have to forgive a future Raptor if he leaves Toronto with the excuse that he owes it to the U.S. to play for an American-based team. Quite simply, that’s a pretty pathetic excuse to hate on Nash.

Likewise, I was just as baffled at some fans who held the fact that Nash landed elsewhere against Colangelo and the Raptors. Based on Stein’s story, the Raptors did everything they possibly could have to bring Kid Canada home. Short of kidnapping Nash or offering him a near max offer, what else could they have done? Sure, you can criticize the short-sighted offer sheet extended to Landry Fields in the hopes of eliminating the Knicks from contention in the sweepstakes, but if you read Stein’s story, you’ll find that even Nash’s agent thought it might be a “two-horse race” between the Raptors and Knicks.

Heck, the only complaint I have from the Raptors point of view is more of a request, and that’s to get whoever put together the video presentation that nearly made Nash cry in charge of in-game videos at the ACC.

Anyway, what Stein’s story confirms is that Colangelo and the Raptors did all they could to get Nash in a Raptors uniform, and if anything, the effort and time they put into their pursuit of Nash only makes the quick rebounding to Kyle Lowry all the more impressive. From Nash’s point of view, he made a decision that made sense for him from a basketball and family perspective, Canadian business opportunities be damned.

And that’s how the Nash saga should be remembered by Raptors fans and Canadian basketball fans.

It should not be remembered as the moment Steve Nash turned his back on Canada, or as some sort of final confirmation that no one wants to play in Toronto. Nash’s place in Canadian basketball lore was cemented a long time ago, and if the Raptors build a team the right way and evolve into a winner, the city of Toronto will eventually attract the A-list free agents it deserves.

But enough looking back, it’s time to move forward.

Comments (30)

  1. I was probably shocked and upset by the decision for about 20 minutes, before more info started coming out and I really thought it through (more for the fact that he’s going to the Lakers than anything else). Those who are still holding a grudge after knowing why he chose the way he did (or ESPECIALLY against Colangelo and the Raps Organization) need to give their heads a shake.
    Great review!

  2. You guys just won’t stop in telling people how to react to this, will you?

    • I’d counter with the suggestion that it would be even better to get a few more voices encouraging Raptors fans to grow up and get some basketball perspective. This fanbase’s immaturity, thinly veiled as fanaticism, is almost as embarrassing as the product on the court. Other than that, I love the Raptors!

  3. I’m over the Nash drama but the story about being close to his kids is BS … the guy lives in NY which is further then TO …

    Time to move on he’s no Canadian hero just another basketball player

    • His kids live in Califonia during the school semesters and would come to stay with him in “New York” in the summer, so playing on the west coast now will allow Nash sees his kids more often, even during the season. ….so I guess Nash will at least be his kids’ HERO, if not yours……and this is how the “story” goes…. Get it?!

      • I think your wrong about that one but were all intitled to our own opinion … if the Utah Jazz came calling instead of the Lakers where do you think he would have gone?

        If the issue were his kids he would have been pro active and re signed with Phoenix or a team which is a short flight away … Get it?

        • Phoenix didn’t really want him back, They’re looking to rebuild with youth. I’m sure if he could’ve gotten the same money from the Suns, he wouldn’t have even entertained Raptors/Lakers/Knicks offers.

          But what would he be saying as his reasons if he chose his 2nd choice, the Knicks?
          “Well, i get to skip customs, so it shaves some time off my 6 hour flight to visit my kids. That’s why i chose a terrible Knicks organization over Toronto”.

          PS for all the complaining about the Raptors organization, the Knicks might be one of the saddest organizations in sports today. Best market, spend more than anybody, and have such a mediocre team. In 4 years, i bet the Raptors crush the knicks in the standings…

        • What i said was heard from an NBA analyst on sports talk radio…. Could it be wrong? Maybe or maybe not.
          Maybe his kids live in arizona or somewhere on the west coast. The point is he can now be close to his kids either during the season or in the summer AND he will be playing for a contending team with a legit chance to win championship. It is NOT BS at all to say he’ll be closer to his kids. … Get it?!
          Btw, you are clearly NOT over this Nash thing yet like you said and you have not MOVED on. So Proof me wrong dude….. and move on please.

  4. Blessing in disguise for Raptors. Lowry a much better fit for the Raps. Nash deserves a shot with the Lakers. Everybody wins.
    But thankfully the sign-and-trade with the Lakers worked out. Otherwise he would be most likely be a NY Knick right now, and a much tougher pill to swallow for any fans hoping he’d be a Raptor. People can understand wanting to be close to family. What would the justification be though, if he chose Knicks over Raptors? Raptors were clearly 3rd choice, only if neither LA or NY could work out a sign and trade to give him a higher contract would he have come to Toronto. Close proximity to his kids and chance to win 1st choice, playing in New York City (even though there’s little chance at a title with this knicks team) as 2nd choice, Raptors chance to play in Canada for big money and future opportunities 3rd choice and clearly a last resort.

    Taken from The Victoria Times Colonist – “Steve Nash sought advice from former Victoria coach about jumping to Los Angeles Lakers”-

    “I was in the know that [the trade between the Phoenix Suns and the Lakers] was imminent because Steve rang up and wanted to know what I thought,” said Hyde-Lay, who still teaches at SMUS.
    “He wanted my gut feeling. I said the Lakers were a slightly better fit from the basketball end of things [than the other teams such as Toronto and the New York Knicks]. The Lakers kept it quiet. The sticking point was the Lakers wanted a two-year deal, not three. Steve wanted three years. They worked that out [to a three-year deal]. And Phoenix at first balked because of the intense inter-divisional rivalry the Suns have with the Lakers. It was all an intriguing process with Toronto and the Knicks also in hard. It was a 50-50 shot between the Knicks and Lakers.”

    So in the end, it was 50-50 between the Knicks and Lakers, with no mention of the Raptors at all. There ya go.

  5. “We obviously know how the story ends, in heartbreaking fashion for Raptors fans.”

    I wish you guys would stop pretending that all Raptor fans were heartbroken by Nash not signing with the Raptors. I know there were a lot that thought a lottery team signing a 38 year old to a 3 year $36 million contract after one year of rebuilding was NOT a good idea.

  6. Did people think Nash would go for a patriotic closing to his career rather than going for the championship that always eluded him? I would’ve been stunned had he chosen Toronto. It would’ve been a feel good story for October, but once the losses and frustration added up, it would be a lose-lose all around.

  7. Would still very much like to see the video.

  8. “Though from a fan’s perspective, perhaps knowing how close we were only hurts more.”

    Um, we weren’t really that close. You can spin it anyway you like, but as long as LA or NY were an option, he wasn’t coming here. Once knicks agreed they’d move Shumpert, we had little chance at all. Once Phoenix agreed to sign and trade with Lakers, we had zero chance at all. We were third choice. If Brooklyn and Phoenix were options, we would have been fifth choice. That’s not really that close.

    • Tell us more please. You seem to know it all. Fact is as is stats Nash decision was based on the him being closer to his kids. He should be applauded for this. BC did the best job he could and should not be blamed for Nash not coming here. There is no reason to judge BC until the start of the season and see what kinda team he rolls out onto the court

      • Colangelo did a great job trying to get Nash to the Raptors, and should definitely not be criticized in any way. But Nash didn’t really want to come to the Raptors. What part of that do you not understand? Sure the Lakers do happen to be close to his kids, but he still would’ve signed with New York or Brooklyn (if possible) over Toronto. Would that be closer to his kids than Toronto? Nope.

  9. The interesting thing to me about the article was Nash saying he would have preferred to stay in Phoenix had they made him a decent offer, but apparently they were ready to move on.

    I agree with Tim about the fact that a lot of fans didn’t think it was the right move to bring him here (myself included), but this was still a harsh blow to a lot of casual fans. The TO media generally didn’t help much, making it sound like a make or break signing for the franchise, and BC compounded things with the bloated Fields offer to raise the stakes.

    In the end what bothers me the most about this, even more than the Fields contract, is how irritated I’m going to be listening to ignorant/immature/idiotic fans boo Nash when he plays here.

  10. Nash is a NEW YORKER. New York City has been his home for years.

    You guys do realize that NBA stars have publicists, right?

    Nash didn’t pick LA to be close to his kids. That’s what he was told to say.

    He went to LA for the money and the ring.

    If he cared about his kids so much he would’ve resigned in Phoenix.

  11. So to summarize, Steve Nash had an opportunity to play for money and patriotism (here), or for a title and be near his family (elsewhere). He chose the latter. Can’t blame him for that.

    But why exactly should we be thrilled that our organization went all-in on the guy, offering the best money, buying out Fields, not drafting a different PG, opting instead for a guy projected to go several spots lower in the draft, when they could have recognized that they couldn’t offer a title shot, nor an opportunity for him to be close to his family? And why should we cheer with excitement when we get shown that while Nash didn’t wish to come play for us, we’re settling for the better player in Lowry? The whole thing stinks of a marketing campaign that blew up in BC’s face.

    I’m not complaining that Nash didn’t come here, I’m complaining that we were after him in the first place. What was he going to bring, other than attention and jersey sales, to this team, anyway? The smart basketball move was to not pursue him at all, and to land Lowry all along. The smart PR move, meanwhile, was to do everything they could to get him, and go after a more talented ball player if they failed to get him. This is what they did.

    • Lastly, if we all recognize that the Lakers are a better contender than the Raps, why do we have to reserve judgement on BC until the 2012-13 team takes the court? How many years and rebuilds does this guy get before we can call him a failure?

      What would success for this franchise look like this season? The raps finished with 23 wins last season. Had they won 33 they still would have missed the playoffs, and would be nowhere close to competing for a title. Is a ten-win improvement in the cards thanks to Lowry’s addition? Is it reasonable to expect that Colangelo will work some magic and see the team improve by 10 games? This seems unlikely.

      So, here we are, rooting for the team to grow, mature, and improve by 10 or 12 wins, against the odds, and barely squeak into the playoffs, thus calling it improvement. Worse, we’re told by the media and the blogs to keep this hope alive, and not to vilify BC, because he’s trying his best. Well I’m comfortable saying it: Bryan Colangelo’s best is not good enough, and it’s time for him to go.

      • “Is it reasonable to expect that Colangelo will work some magic and see the team improve by 10 games? ”

        If Bargs is healthy for a full season and if Jonas is a decent bench option, then, yes, ten games better isn’t asking too much.

        My criticism of BC at the moment lies mainly with the Ross pick. But the team he’s put on the floor certainly seems like a playoff team even without Ross.

    • Interesting points, my arguments in summary:

      -Nash in Canada is bigger then the Raptors. It’s about the basketball program getting a huge boost in a way that can be difficult to imagine.

      -For the Raptors, it would have been a sign to fans (and even Casey) that the organization is serious about competing. In addition, just his presence would change the locker-room and on the court culrture + the perception about the organization around the league (Free Agency, agents, ect).

      -Which PG would you have drafted?

      -”Mock drafts” are the ones that had Ross ranked lower. The kid still has skills.

      • - Absolutely, I agree: Nash in Canada is a big deal. And that is precisely my point: they wanted to bring him here, not because he was a good basketball player (which he is, but won’t be for long enough to help the Raptors seriously compete at this rate), but because it was great publicity. If that’s what you’re hoping a GM will do, great. I hope my GM builds a winner, rather than putting ‘entertainment’ on the court.

        - I don’t see how signing an aging veteran, even a popular one, is a sign of competing as compared with signing the most talented player you can get. Putting this another way, if the Raptors announced that Michael Jordan was going to be coming off the bench for them, would you say that they were seriously thinking about competing?

        -Austin Rivers. He may not have been the best talent out there, but if they hadn’t had their eyes so firmly fixed on Nash, I don’t imagine that they pass on him.

        - Yes, I recognize that mock drafts had him ranked lower, and I recognize that mock drafts often get things wrong (just as GMs do in real life). Nonetheless, the consensus was that the Raptors picked a guy who was not the most talented player on the board. I’d argue that BC and co has not had a stellar record of picking winners in the draft who are coming out of nowhere. Perhaps going with the dark horse isn’t the best approach for him.

        • You say that they should have taken Austin Rivers, despite admitting that “he may not have been the best talent out there,” but then criticize Colangelo and the Raptors for taking a guy “who was not the most talented on the board.” So why would it have been okay to take Rivers over Ross if neither of them was a standout talent?

          I like Rivers, but I assure you, if it wasn’t for his name and the whole “swagger” he carries, people would realize that Ross is the more complete player.

          • I’ll take Terrence Ross over Austin Rivers any time. LOVE the pick. LOVE what i see from the kid. Austin Rivers is an undersized shooting guard, not a point guard. They rarely pan out. Anybody remember college stud Shawn Respert? What kind of NBA career did he have? I don’t think Rivers will be a star in the NBA, he’ll be a scorer off the bench. Ross is a way more complete player. And Kyle Lowry is such a better point guard than Austin Rivers, it’s not even close.

          • You’re right, I weakened my argument there. I suppose the point I was aiming to get at, which has since been distracted, is that it looks to me as though the BC plan this off-season was to draft a wing player, and have Nash be the big-ticket item. The all-in approach was his play.

            In general, I like this approach from sports General Managers – roll the dice and hope for the best. However, in this case, the risk was designed to lure a marketing device to town, not the best player to make the team win. This tells us one of two things: either BC fears that the fans/media are losing interest in the Raptors under his watch and he needs to do something to draw us back, or – and much worse for everyone – MLSE has that fear, and is forcing him to try to put something entertaining on the court to fill the seats and increase the ratings.

            Either way, his attempt to draw the circus to town failed, and his credibility has been eroded further. If it is MLSE that is forcing this move, then BC’s in a heap of trouble, and the writing is on the wall for him. And if that is indeed the case, as I suspect it is, the sooner he gets canned, a new GM comes in, flushes the organization and rebuilds it as he/she sees fit, the better.

  12. …also, a lot of west coast basketball fans root for the lakers (as well as some clippers and blazers fans) because the timezone difference makes rooting for an Eastern Conference team difficult.

  13. The Lakers made a big mistake going after Nash. Nash is a terrible defender. He can’t guard the point guard position at all, and will need a 2-guard to do his defending for him. That’s fine if the Lakers had a 2-guard who can defend for him, but they won’t. Matt Barnes is leaving.

    So now Lakers has a HUGE defensive liability at the 1 spot. And guess who they have to go through to get out of the West? San Antonio and Oklahoma, who both have AMAZING point guards. Tony Parker is going to carve Nash up like a Thanksgiving turkey. And if Parker doesn’t finish the job, Westbrooke from Oklahoma will.

    • The Lakers also have that other 2-guard. What’s his name…..something Bryant, I think. Pretty good defender, too, from what I gather. I think they’re front line is also pretty good defensively.

      Nash is certainly a liability defensively, but let’s not start finding reasons to criticize him because he picked the Lakers over Toronto. He’s still one of the top 20 players in the league and makes any team better just stepping on the court with them.

    • We don’t know anything about Nash’s D in the context of having Gasol and Bynum backing him up. Hell, when’s the last time he had a legit pair of defensive stoppers behind him (or even one)?

      I don’t think the Lakers really care about his D. Besides, didn’t Westbrook average something like 25 against them in the playoffs anyway? Nash being burned by Westbrook is probably preferable to Durant raining threes on them all day.

  14. Hyde-Lay is a douche with SMS.

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