The Raptors’ title run and the gargantuan tv audiences it attracted have led Grunwald to proclaim, as he did in a current cellphone interview, that “this is a basketball nation now.” Other outstanding members of the Canadian basketball group say the identical. The surest method to hush lingering skeptics can be to ship males’s and ladies’s nationwide groups to Tokyo, however nobody is kind of positive what kind of workforce Nurse will get to teach. Canada’s girls, led by the W.N.B.A.’s Kia Nurse (no relation to the lads’s coach) and ranked No. four on the planet, are thought to be medal contenders.
Jamal Murray, Canada’s greatest males’s participant, might make a deep run within the N.B.A. playoffs with the Denver Nuggets, probably precluding a nationwide workforce stint. Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins, one other prime expertise, hasn’t performed for Canada since 2015. And Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City’s blossoming guard, has been sidelined by plantar fasciitis in his proper foot, which might complicate Canada’s efforts to promote him on the low season rigors of worldwide basketball.
“We got an all-N.B.A. team,” the Knicks’ RJ Barrett, who’s Canadian, mentioned final month, insisting they are going to have sufficient to qualify regardless of who performs.
Lake and Blasko know this a lot: They can’t do any extra to reinforce the workforce’s possibilities.
“For the people in Oakland, it was just the floor that was taking up space that they were probably never going to use again,” Lake mentioned. “For us, it’s the most important floor in Canadian basketball history.”
Hyperbole? Not to Grunwald. A slew of loonie placements and by-product ideas since 2002 have did not ship any Canadian sports activities magic — together with when Masai Ujiri, Toronto’s president of basketball operations, placed a two-dollar Canadian toonie coin below the workforce’s observe court docket in Tampa, Fla., in December. It nonetheless has been, to place it mildly, an arduous pandemic season for the displaced Raptors, however Grunwald simply chuckled as he recounted Lake and Blasko’s persistence.
Nearly eight years faraway from his final style of the N.B.A., with the Knicks, Grunwald mentioned he couldn’t assist however get swept up in “the joy they have for basketball.”
“It’s really refreshing,” Grunwald mentioned. “It makes you feel good about our sport and about Canada.”