Friday, January 30, 2009

Raptors Relying on National Team Spirit

The Raptors look determined in their new "happy-go-lucky approach" - that is anything can happen in the NBA. And with the Raptors looking from the outside-in of postseason basketball, what have they really got to lose? Some say nothing, I say dignity. With Calderon's return, the Raptors are 3-0 and I'm not surprised when you put a player, who is one of the best in his position in the entire world. Remember the Spanish National Team in the 2006 FIBA World Championship when Spain went on to win. And in the following season, Jose's averages nearly doubled with his new vigor and confidence in his game. I'm talking about that taste of winning a title, a taste that is inexpressible through words. I'm saying this taste lingers and with Calderon - a champion, a leader - there's everything to lose when you don't win.

Anything can happen in the NBA. Some people say the Team U.S.A. didn't exactly have the best team that year, but there's a difference between saying that you brought the "best players" and bringing the "essential players". Ask anyone now and those who are not stubborn will say the US lacked the gusto in their game and that instead of playing with their hearts, they played with the names on the back of their shirts. When an interviewer asked Jose what he thought had changed after their recent success, he commented about how the team have players, who represent their country in the National team. Maybe Jose envisions a similarity in the talent of his Spanish National Team that won in 2006 with the roster of the Raptors now. And if this is how he sees the current situation then he certainly believes that this team is "capable". And if anything is possible in the larger sense of Spain winning a world championship, then it's not too hard to see that anything is also possible in the smaller, NBA reality.

But say what you will. If the roster stays the same after the February deadline, the Raptors have the essential players to at least be appreciated, despite how the season pans out, so long as Jose is out there to push everyone to their limits. JO is a class act. He's accepted his role, is happy no matter what happens from now until February and is working with how much springs his legs have left in order to help his current team. Bargnani is finally accepted, Graham looks to have fulfilled that "Golden Graham" nickname of his. And maybe the most important realization so far this season is with Bosh seeing the importance of Jose's presence. And to watch A.P. as he's forced to turn his back on opposing players and not help them up just shows you there's no lack in commitment. I mean, it's A.P.! This is a guy, who has never said a swear word since Guantánamo was reopened to be used as a prison & who's helped the elderly cross the street a record 8,132 times!

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