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Young, Doncic lead 2018-19 All-Rookie First Team

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NEW YORK — Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young have been unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Dončić and Young both received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 200 points each.  They are joined on the NBA All-Rookie First Team by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (195 points; 95 First Team votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (159 points; 60 First Team votes) and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (156 points; 56 First Team votes). 

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team is composed of the top five picks in NBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm®: Ayton (No. 1), Bagley (No. 2), Dončić (No. 3), Jackson (No. 4) and Young (No. 5).

This marks the first time since the 1984-85 season that the top five picks in the previous NBA Draft have all been selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team (there was no All-Rookie Second Team that season).  Thirty-four years ago, the NBA All-Rookie Team honorees were Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 pick in 1984), Sam Bowie (No. 2), Michael Jordan (No. 3), Sam Perkins (No. 4) and Charles Barkley (No. 5).

Dončić, Young and Ayton are the three finalists for the 2018-19 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award.  The winnerwill be revealed at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 24 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.  The third annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of LA Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (138 points), Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (132), Clippers guard Landry Shamet (85), New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (77) and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (45).

The NBA All-Rookie Teams were selected by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.  The media voted for five players for the NBA All-Rookie First Team and five players for the Second Team at any position.  Players received two points for each First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote.

Complete voting results by media member will be posted at pr.nba.com the night of the 2019 NBA Awards presented by KiaClick here for the list of 100 media voters for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.   

Below are the voting results for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.  The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

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2018-19 NBA ALL-ROOKIE FIRST TEAM

Player, Team | 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks | 100 | –– | 200

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks | 100 | — | 200

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns | 95 | 5 | 195

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies | 60 | 39 | 159

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings | 56 | 44 | 156

 

2018-19 NBA ALL-ROOKIE SECOND TEAM

Player, Team |  1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers | 40 | 58 | 138

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers | 39 | 54 | 132

Landry Shamet, LA Clippers | 3 | 79 | 85 

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks | 3 | 71 | 77

Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks | 1 | 43 | 45

 

Below are the other players who received votes for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.

Player, Team | 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns | 1 | 29 | 31

Kevin Knox, New York Knicks | — | 22 | 22

Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves | 1 | 10 | 12

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks | — | 10 | 10

Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks | — | 10 | 1

Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets | — | 9 | 9

Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls | — | 7 | 7

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets | 1 | 4 | 6

Bruce Brown, Detroit Pistons | — | 2 | 2

Harry Giles III, Sacramento Kings | — | 2 | 2

Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic | — | 1 | 1

Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers | — | 1 | 1



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Injured Warriors brace for unclear summer

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr still considers Golden State an ideal fit for Kevin Durant.

Whether Durant sees it that way going into free agency next month, Kerr isn’t about to guess. Especially now that the two-time NBA Finals MVP is headed for what could be a yearlong recovery from surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

”Well, the injury kind of throws everything for a loop, so I have no idea what Kevin’s going to do,” Kerr said Friday. ”I know that we all want him back, and we think this is a great situation for him and vice versa. So, hopefully we get him back and keep this thing going with the understanding that he’s a free agent and we want what’s best for him, and he’s free to make any choice he wants. Hopefully he’s back, and we will all give him any advice, any counsel that he needs. And ultimately he’s going to make his own decision. He’s earned that.”

A day after losing Game 6 of The Finals to the champion Toronto Raptors, Kerr and general manager Bob Myers braced for an uncertain summer while still trying to cope with the heartbreak of seeing Durant go down in Game 5. Then Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee during the third quarter of Thursday night’s 114-110 loss in the final game at Oracle Arena. Durant was injured in Game 5 on Monday night in Toronto, then underwent surgery Wednesday in New York.

 

Steve Kerr and Bob Myers discuss the injuries and contract situations to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

”This year more than any other tested the fabric of our team,” Myers said. ”It’s hard to not value a championship as much as I value short of winning a championship, and in some ways more than winning a championship, this year I might have been the proudest of our resolve. I don’t know if that’s evident. I hear that from people in the Bay Area, the support we’ve gotten, the things people say about kind of conducting ourselves as champions. That stuff matters. Winning matters, too, obviously. It’s all matters. Try to continue to hang onto that culture.”

In February, Durant became frustrated over all the fuss and speculation about where he might play next season, and said ”I’m trying to play basketball.” He signed a two-year contract last summer that includes a player option for the 2019-20, so Durant can become a free agent to pursue a maximum five-year deal. The Warriors are expected to try to sign both Durant and Thompson to those max contracts.

Asked how optimistic he is about bringing back Durant, an emotionally exhausted Myers said, simply, ”I don’t know” while noting that free agency is “never what you think.”

”He’s a guy who’s been, like I said, what more can we ask for from him?” Myers said. ”He’s been everything to us, the guy has been everything that we could have ever dreamed. He’s been an awesome member of this organization. There’s so much he does in the community that probably doesn’t get as many headlines, things he’s done in D.C., his foundation, how he kind of lives his life. We’re lucky to have been around him. Hopefully we’ll keep doing that.”

All season, the Warriors were determined to cherish this ride together knowing the roster could look far different once training camp rolls around in September – along with the venue as Golden State moves across the bay to the new Chase Center in San Francisco. Golden State’s players also insist they have never taken for granted the special five-year run featuring three championships and five consecutive Finals berths.

 

Klay Thompson goes down with a torn ACL in Game 6 of The Finals.

”In the history of this NBA you could highlight every team that was supposed to win or had the best team and all the different story lines. And 82 games and a full playoff run, a lot can happen,” Stephen Curry said. ”It’s just a matter of how much you fight and just leave it all out there on the floor. I think the way that we have talked and described this journey and whatnot, I don’t think there’s ever been a situation where we have taken anything for granted. And that’s something I can look back and just hold.

”We all can hold our head high that we gave it everything we got. … Two guys who go down and the game’s kind of taken away from them in those moments, it’s not a good feeling at all. And it’s kind of a helpless feeling in terms of two freak plays that send these guys back to the locker room. So it’s tough, but it’s part of basketball, it’s part of the game. Again, I just hope their recoveries are strong and they come back better than they were before.”

Thompson’s knee surgery has not yet been set. Kerr doesn’t expect to ever see two injuries this severe in consecutive Finals games again.

He was still stunned a day later, and Myers, too. Now the GM must immediately turn his focus toward next week’s draft and then free agency. Both expressed their tremendous pride in how the Warriors fought despite being denied a three-peat.

”You’re talking about two career-altering injuries to two of your best players in back-to-back Finals games. Unheard of. It will probably never happen again,” Kerr said. ”We’re in new territory now and you just have to keep moving forward.”

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Raptors’ title sees Canada set viewing, spending records

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The final numbers are in, and the NBA Finals were a smashing success for Canada all the way around.

The NBA said Friday that 56% percent of the Canadian population watched at least some part of the NBA Finals, with an average viewership of about 8 million for the Toronto Raptors’ title-winning victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6.

The league also said the total combined U.S. and Canadian audience for the finals was up 11 percent over the combined viewership of the 2018 title series between Golden State and Cleveland.

Thursday’s game was the most-watched NBA game in Canadian television history, a record that was toppled several times during this postseason because of the Raptors’ popularity. Viewership for each of the six finals games rank among the 10 most-watched television programs in Canada so far this year.

”Everybody who supported us during the season, all the fans in Toronto, everyone in Canada – this is for you,” Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said after Toronto’s first NBA championship. ”This is for Canada, baby. You should be proud.”

And not only were Canadians watching, but they were buying.

The NBA said that online sales through the league’s official portals smashed records for the day following the end of a championship series, up more than 80 percent from the previous mark (set when Cleveland beat Golden State in 2016) and were more than 100 percent over sales on the day following the Warriors’ sweep of the Cavaliers last season.

The Raptors are planning a parade in Toronto on Monday, one that will likely take more than two hours.

”This means so much to our city and to many in Canada, and we are looking forward to showing everyone the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Monday,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. ”Bringing the NBA championship to Toronto is the realization of a goal for our team and for our players, and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate together with our fans.”

The newly crowned NBA champions, who won the title in Oakland, California on Thursday night, are expected back in Toronto on Saturday. They were planning to spend Friday night celebrating in Las Vegas.

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Five things we learned from Game 6 of The Finals

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 114-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena: 

 

1.  No apologies, no asterisks  

More than one wag offered up the following sardonic thought on social media late Thursday and early Friday about the end of the Golden State Warriors’ five-year run of Finals appearances: They would have been better off getting swept. 

Oh, there would have been grief heaped upon them, mockery even, as part of a backlash to their excellence since 2015. It goes that way in sports, in the culture: The shiny, new object is always the best, until it’s no longer as shiny and definitely not as new. Lots of NBA fans had grown weary of the Warriors, so tired of seeing them dominate the Western Conference each spring and three of the previous four Finals that there really were multitudes eager to see them fall. A sweep would have delighted the schadenfreude set.

That would have been preferable, though, to what happened in extending the 2019 Finals by two games.

Had the Warriors been swept, Kevin Durant never would have returned from his right calf strain in Game 5 – and never would have torn the Achilles tendon in that leg, a far more severe injury that possibly wipes out Durant’s 2019-20 season and maybe alters his career trajectory.

Had the Warriors been swept, Klay Thompson would have reminded everyone of his durability and tenacity by playing with a pulled hamstring in Game 4, after missing Game 3. He never would have had to do it by making a pair of free throws on a torn ACL in his left knee Thursday and briefly acting as if he could finish out Game 6.

Had the Warriors been swept, there would be all the expected questions about their roster and their future heading into a pivotal summer. But the clouds overhead wouldn’t be nearly so dark.

As it turned out, Golden State’s magical stretch dating back to coach Steve Kerr’s hiring in 2014 ends with both a bang and a whimper: snapping human tissue in two of the worst injuries any basketball player can suffer, followed immediately by pain as well as rightful concern and sympathy for the individuals more than the dynasty itself.

 

Steve Kerr discusses what it’s been like coaching the Warriors for the past five seasons.

The next few months were going to be a natural crossroads for the franchise all along. Move across the bay to a sparkling new arena, key free agents to re-sign or not, some alleged restlessness in Durant particularly and the simple passage of time in a league of rivals hungry to topple them. Now, with both Durant and Thompson out for much or all of next season – and will any team in recent memory have felt more pressure to err on the side of later rather than sooner in returning rehabbed players to action? – the Warriors are on the verge of being (gasp!) ordinary.

Draymond Green and Steph Curry brought stiff upper lips to the postgame podium, but it seemed like so much barking into the wind. “We’re not done yet,” Green said. “We lost this year. Clearly just wasn’t our year, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, ‘it’s the end of a run’ and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening though. We’ll be back.”

Time and recoveries will tell. But this is important to note not just for the Toronto Raptors but others in the league and across sports: The Warriors’ bad luck was not the Raptors’ fault, and there should be no apologies from them, no asterisks attached to diminish their achievement.

Staying healthy, or as close to that, is part of winning a championship at the end of a long, grueling season. There are plenty of examples in the NBA alone of title quests or defenses derailed by injuries, but those almost always wind up as subplots, generally forgotten, once the news ages into history.

Remember how Kyrie Irving shattered his knee in Game 1 in 2015 and Kevin Love wasn’t around for the Finals at all in 2015, when the Warriors beat Cleveland for their first ring? Well, yeah, but that didn’t define Golden State’s accomplishment. The same can be said for the Spurs beating a Patrick Ewing-less Knicks team in 1999 or Boston benefiting from Lucius Allen’s absence to beat Milwaukee in seven games in 1974.

It really is possible that the Warriors were ground down by their repeated Finals runs, that the wear and tear accumulated as they crammed the equivalent of a sixth season into a calendar meant for five. Toronto will be the champs with the quick turnaround to 2019-20. We’ll see what they have left when the playoffs commence next April.

2. Rent-a-player? Kawhinot?    

If ever a team endured a pinch-me playoffs, it was the Raptors. Even as they were reaching new heights and winning over new fans in Canada and elsewhere, there was an awareness kept front and center in most fans’ minds that this all could end rather unceremoniously come June 30.

Will Kawhi Leonard stay, which is to say sign a new contract with Toronto when he hits free agency at the end of this month, or will he go? If “Wide World of Sports” were still on the air, it might change its tagline to “the thrill of victory, the dread of what comes next.”

Raptors president Masai Ujiri gambled like a boss and cashed in beyond his wildest dreams. He fired his coach, Dwane Casey, and traded away the most loyal and popular player, DeMar DeRozan, from the franchise’s recent run of nice seasons. All for an enigmatic talent who was never going to commit verbally or emotionally to his new surroundings, confetti and champagne be damned.

 

Raptors president Masai Ujiri talks about the moves that led to the Raptors winning their first NBA title.

So, uh, was it worth it? If Leonard signs with one of the Los Angeles teams (the Clippers are a long-rumored favorite) or some other offseason suitor, and sends Toronto into heavy scramble mode, will the present and just-completed past justify such an uncertain future?

Of course it will, silly. Ujiri rolled the dice and won big. He, Leonard, coach Nick Nurse and the rest of them got the Raptors to a place they’d never been and weren’t headed anytime soon. You can take this lesson all the way back to Tennyson, who gave us the bachelor’s and bachelorette’s refrain “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Except, of course, that the Raptors won. They might not repeat. They might not even defend their league and conference titles in the East next spring. But they checked so many professional and passionate boxes for themselves and their fans that it’s hard to imagine the other path – running back the same solid crew while expecting different results?

That would require a switch in source material from Tennyson to Einstein, because that was the frizzy-haired genius’ definition of insanity. The NBA already has too many teams fixated on the future at the expense of tonight’s game and tomorrow’s, playing it safe for lottery balls and job security. Bravo for Toronto for going for it, when it (with the departure from the East of LeBron James) presented itself regardless of assured duration.

3. Unanimity is boring and overrated 

The winner of the Bill Russell Finals MVP Award is chosen annually in a vote of 11 media members selected by the NBA as a championship series reaches clinching altitude. Kawhi Leonard breezed to his victory for the award, getting 10 of the 11 votes from the, ahem, esteemed panelists.

He did not get all 11, however: Venerable coach-turned-broadcaster Hubie Brown wrote Fred VanVleet on his ballot.

Quickly, social media had its say – too often and too loud, as is its wont. How dare Brown vote for a backup Toronto point guard over the team’s best player and points amasser not just in the Finals, but over the Raptors’ 2019 playoff run? Take his vote away, some opined.

 

Kawhi Leonard is named Finals MVP for the second time in his career.

Seriously? People need to calm down. As someone who voted for LeBron James in 2015 – when his Cleveland team actually lost the championship to Golden State – I know how the zeal for unanimous agreement works. There were four of us that year who felt James’ contributions to a hobbled Cavs team surpassed anything any single Warrior did over those six games.

Brown happened to be alone in his take, but it was not without merit. VanVleet made 16 3-pointers in the six games, the most by any player off the bench in any Finals. Robert (‘Big Shot Bob’) Horry and J.R. Smith had held the record with 15. He scored 84 points, finishing short of just five others in Finals history. The great Manu Ginobili, for instance, never chipped in as many when he was subbing in for San Antonio’s title teams.

And VanVleet scored 12 points in the final quarter of a clinching game that was, for all practical purposes, decided by one point. No one else on the floor Thursday night scored more than five in the fourth quarter. Let’s not forget, either, VanVleet’s defensive work in rendering Steph Curry as something less than combustible by the series’ end.

Leonard, the MVP, would have been scoreless in nine minutes in the fourth if not for his cushion free throws with 0.9 seconds left. Honestly, the taciturn small forward wasn’t an obvious MVP pick in Game 5 or Game 6. But his body of work in the series – 28.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg – made his case early. So, unofficially, did his play across four playoff rounds: 30.5 ppg, 14 games of 30 points or more and 732 points overall in Toronto’s 24 games as the Raptors went 16-8.

It was good to see, too, that Leonard played in every one of his team’s postseason contests, which means Toronto got 84 games out of him this season.

4. Numbers are always fun  

Fact is, for a lot of sports fans, numbers are the first thing they enjoy. And there were several interesting ones, including:

  • Five of the six games were won by the road team, including all three of the Warriors’ homecourt opportunities as they bade farewell to Oracle Arena. That’s not supposed to happen – it’s why teams labor all season, for that claim of homecourt edge – and it definitely isn’t supposed to happen at two of the most raucous venues, Oracle and Scotiabank Arena. VanVleet tried to explain it: “[Being on the road] allows you to lock in a little bit better,” he said. “I think it allows you to have that us against the world mentality where the only thing that matters is the guy next to you.  And your crowd being anxious and excited doesn’t have any affect on you when you’re on the road. … For us going on the road it allowed us to take it up a notch more than what we usually do.”
     
  • Certainly it’s not the playoff shares that motivate NBA players in pursuit of a championship. The Raptors will divvy up $5,621,005 from the postseason pool for their 24 games. That’s equivalent to a payroll of $19,205,000 for an 82-game season. Must be something else that drives them, then. The Warriors’ 2019 playoff pot will be $4,435,312. They get $2,543,681 for losing in the Finals, one-third less than the Raptors’ $3,838,798. Golden State closed the gap a bit overall by getting an extra $100,000 or so for finishing atop the West compared to Toronto’s No. 2 seed in the East.
     
  • In a game as close as one point in the final 10 seconds, Golden State left eight points at the foul line in the fourth quarter alone Thursday. Andre Iguodala missed three of four free throws, Draymond Green missed a pair and DeMarcus Cousins missed half of his six in those final 12 minutes. This, while Toronto was sinking 18 of 22 in the fourth. Over the entire 2018-19 season, the Warriors missed an average of only 4.1 free throws per game.
     
  • Each team grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in Game 6. Seven of the 22 overall came in the fourth quarter, by which point the second-chance scoring opportunities are almost eclipsed by how well extended possessions can run down the game clock. (Granted, there would have been one fewer in the game if Draymond Green’s tip-in had rightfully been called offensive basket interference.)

The value of grabbing missed shots wasn’t lost on the Finals MVP. Leonard, in fact, took a trip down memory lane when asked about Curry’s potential game-winning 3-pointer at 111-110 with eight seconds left. The ball ticked out toward the key and Leonard was in the middle of a scramble for the loose ball. By the time Green claimed it – and called a timeout his team didn’t have – only 0.9 seconds remained.

 

Kawhi Leonard breaks down Game 6 and what this season in Toronto has been like.

“It didn’t look like it was a good shot,” Leonard said. That had him in rebound mode. “I’ve been in situations like that in a Finals that I lost by two or three points, and we lost that game because of rebounds. I forgot who shot the ball, you guys know the story. It was the last two possessions for Miami, they got … four chances at the basket out of two possessions.”

Well, yeaaaah. That was Game 6 in 2013, the Heat vs. Leonard’s Spurs. LeBron James got to reload on one 3-pointer, and then Chris Bosh’s rebound of a James miss enabled him to feed Ray Allen for arguably the most memorable shot in Finals history.

“And that was my fault because I was trying to get the rebound,” Leonard said. “And once he missed the ball I tried to keep tipping it so some more time could run out. Didn’t want to grab it right away so they could foul me.”

That last part, right there, is basketball genius. Leonard knew Golden State was in more trouble if he didn’t claim the offensive rebound than if he did.

5. Toronto ought to be a destination market  

Don’t go by this summer’s free agency shoporama. The Raptors aren’t set up with their payroll or roster to be big players when the market opens June 30 this time around.

But anyone who paid any attention to the 2019 Finals has to come away thinking Toronto – as a team, as an organization, as a city, as a fan base – ought to be one of the most appealing of the NBA’s 30, in terms of a player making his professional home there.

The Raptors’ camaraderie and bond was evident on the court and off through all four playoff rounds. Coach Nick Nurse seems respected and liked by his players, and guard Kyle Lowry told the story more than once that he recalled Nurse yelling at them in the locker room only twice all season. Mostly he guided, instructed, cajoled and showed them ways to go from good to better and from better to best, while serving as a role model for coaches in basketball’s Netherlands dreaming of the big time.

“My job is to get those guys to max out what they can do, get them to play together, get them to play tough defense, get them to share the ball and get them to handle adversity with some calmness and handle triumph with some calmness,” Nurse said before the clincher, in his self-effacing way. “Then you got to look at who you’re playing and you got to try to figure it out. I was telling somebody today, I said… ‘Jesus, I don’t know how we’re going to beat these guys.’ And then you say ‘God, there’s got to be a way we can figure it out.’ In two sentences you go from one end to the other and that’s what the job is.”

VanVleet showed class in his institutional memory, giving shout-outs from the postgame podium to team members who had helped get the Raptors to the brink of their championship, including DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright and coach Dwane Casey.

Obviously Ujiri showed the guts to make major moves, adding not just Leonard but Danny Green in that trade and acquiring Marc Gasol during the season. The scene outside Scotiabank Arena was remarkable, the “Jurassic Park” throngs that assembled for outdoor videoboard viewings of each game demonstrating a passion and loyalty you don’t routinely see around Madison Square Garden or Staples Center.

 

Get an inside look at the atmosphere surrounding ‘Jurassic Park.’

Sure, there are small hassles to playing and living in another country. International players don’t seem to mind the adjustments – they’ve already made bigger ones coming to North America, period – but those born in the U.S. sometimes seem stymied by clearing customs, by the exchange rate, by having to spell defense with a “c” and center by flopping the last two letters.

As for as a world capital for the modern age, though, Toronto is a poster place.

“Just having guys from different countries and speaking different languages, I think it kind of got us closer together,” forward Pascal Siakam said, sitting afterward drapped in the flag of his native Cameroon. “And you kind of have all those little kind of friendship with guys that you can speak the same language with, and from Spanish to French to English, different cultures. And I think kind of it represents Toronto in general,having that diversity.”

Said Gasol: “You look at the young players that [we] have, you see the coaching staff, their mindset, you look at the front office. Go from top to bottom, ownership, the trainers, physical therapists, chefs, everything. It’s a top-class organization. They’re all about winning. … It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win, but it does help that everyone has that championship mentality.”

The Raptors and their fans are overdue, then, to lure players a cut above helpers such as Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon, Bismack Biyombo, Tracy Murray or James Johnson. Everything is in place to attract top free agents, better than they’ve signed in the past, if only the players, their agents and their families will embrace basketball without borders as well as the league has.

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.



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