Am I disappointed that Steve Nash rejected the Toronto Raptors offer to sign with the Lakers? Surely. Is it a public relations/recruiting blow to the Raptors and MLSE? I can't sugarcoat it, yes. Again, it hurts. Do I agree with the decision to go after him? Yes. Swing for the fences; nothing ventured, nothing gained.
At the end of the day do I fault Nash? Bottom line, behind that smile and charisma is a cold-blooded competitor who wants to win and has a healthy ego, where he wants, what he wants and usually gets it. He'll say all the right things about a lot of topics and he's quite good at it. Ultimately, he's going for it and on his terms. That's how big deals get done. I love his game and respect him and that hasn't changed a bit. It would have been a fun few years on the court but life goes on.
Should he step down as Canada Basketball GM because of this? No, he made a decision on his terms what was best for him and his family as it relates to his livelihood as a professional basketball player. He knows the consequences and the PR hit that he'll take in his home country. He's a big boy and he can handle it. If he produces as the GM (this can't be a ceremonial gig), he'll be credited with turning the program around. If he doesn't, he'll be shown the door like any other GM/coach. This isn't a lifetime scholarship job, though he would have likely had one with MLSE had he signed with the Raptors. Again, he's a big boy and he can deal with whatever gets thrown at him.
Pro sports is a business, pure and simple. I hate saying that because I passionately love the game and truly want to see the sport succeed in Toronto and across the country and sometimes/most times, I feel like we're an after-thought in the NBA world. Time to sit and cry about it? NO WAY! Find a way. Somehow, some way, the Raptors must find a way! Can it get done? Yes, yes and yes!!! I'm a firm believer in the viability and enormous potential of the Raptors and the growth of the sport nationally. Also, we need to get an NBA team back in Vancouver and I have said that a 1,000 times.
Is this a lesson for the Raptors? I've said this a ton over my 14-year run as a Raptors broadcaster -- know who you are and what you need to do to make it work in your market. They've got a talented head coach and coaching staff. That's a huge plus. It's a wonderful city/country with a world class arena and committed ownership. Lots to love and it will happen. They have to draft and develop A/A- players and recruit B+/B players on the open market and use the salary cap money very wisely.
They also have to find a way to solve the retention issue that has plagued the franchise over the years. We're in the recruitment/retention business above and beyond great scouting, coaching and development. There are lots of ways for the franchise to go in the coming days and months and I firmly believe that if the right moves (moves that make sense for the Toronto franchise) are made, you will slowly and gradually see this thing turn around. There is no quick fix.
Look around the NBA and other pro sports leagues and markets a lot smaller than Toronto and quite inferior to Toronto, which is a world class town, have had great success. Should you expect and/or demand it? Yes. It's not an easy job that president/GM Bryan Colangelo has and I'm confident that he knows what he wants to get accomplished and will see this thing through to a successful completion.
I know, for many, this is an emotional time and folks want heads on a platter and usually the GM or coach is that guy. I understand it because I've lived it. Let's catch our breath, see this thing through and support our people. I'm not giving up one bit; there games to be won and a playoff bid to be chased. 'The night is always darkest just before the dawn.'