Friday, 11 September 2009

Red Rocket, Magloire in... but Nash out

According to these two stories in the Sun Media newspapers this am, Matt Bonner and Jamaal Magloire have agreed to play for Canada next summer but two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash has reiterated that he won't

Bonner is 'jacked' about playing for Canada

The Red Rocket will be wearing red and white at the world basketball championships next summer.

Canadian men's coach Leo Rautins said former Raptors forward Matt Bonner almost certainly will have his paperwork completed in time to play for Canada at the 2010 worlds in Turkey.

Bonner, who started 67 games for the San Antonio Spurs last season, has taken the necessary steps to acquire Canadian citizenship. He married a Toronto girl and spends much off the off-season in Canada. Rautins said that almost immediately after the Canadian team qualified for the 2010 worlds last week in Puerto Rico, team officials began receiving text messages from Bonner.

"He's jacked. He's completely pumped and waiting to play," Rautins said. "It's going to happen, and we're anxious to have Matt. He's a high-character guy, who's committed to the game. And for the international game, he is multi-faceted. He can play at the three, four and five spots."

Bonner, from Concord, N.H., was a fan favourite during his two seasons with the Raptors (2004-06).

Rautins added that Toronto native Jamaal Magloire, a centre with the Miami Heat, is also on board to play at the worlds. Magloire has been criticized in the past for not playing for the national side during his time in the NBA.

"He's a physical beast," Rautins said. "He has an edge to him and he has no problem cracking you on the side of the head if that needs to be done."

The inclusion of Bonner and Magloire would give Rautins three NBA players on the national team, joining Heat forward Joel Anthony.

Rautins said he has total faith in Toronto's Jermaine Anderson to carry the load at point guard if Steve Nash doesn't join the team. Anderson played the game of his life in leading Canada to a 80-76 win over the favored Dominican Republic last week in a game that put Canada into the worlds.

Nash nixes suiting up for Canada


IN TORONTO -- NBA star Steve Nash made it clear again yesterday that the chances of his playing once more for Canada on the world stage are slim and none.

But here is a little advice to national team head coach Leo Rautins and Canada Basketball CEO Wayne Parrish.

If you want Nash to play for Canada at next year's world championship in Turkey, sell him on the idea that the tournament would make a great setting for a documentary -- with a possible angle of Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu playing in front of his adoring fans and exotic Istanbul as the backdrop.

You want to talk Turkey with Nash? You gotta be creative.

The thing is, outside of basketball, the Victoria, B.C., native is all about film, now.

His reason for flying into Toronto yesterday was to talk about his being a judge for the LG FilmFest. Nash also was eager to discuss his film company, Meathawk Productions, and his dream project, a documentary on Canadian icon Terry Fox, which is slated to run on ESPN in April.

"Film was just something I really loved and gravitated towards, and at some point in the last few years, I've crossed that line from being a spectator to being a participant," the personable point guard said yesterday.

"It's the right time for me to set up that transition for when my career does end. I'm motivated to do it. I'm excited about it and, while I still feel I want to play basketball at the same level I've played at for my entire career, I also want to be able to make that transition so I don't feel that slap in the face when the lights go out and there's no more basketball."

Nash has more on his plate than Santa Claus. When he isn't doing film stuff, he is travelling the world conducting basketball clinics, working on his various charities, buying pieces of pro sports franchises and spending time with his young family. Time is gold and that is why it is difficult for the Phoenix Suns star to commit to the national team.

"(Raptors GM and Canada Basketball board member) Bryan Colangelo texted me about that and I was like: 'How do I fit it in?'" Nash said.

Still, Nash, who played inspired basketball for Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, didn't completely close the door on the idea, adding that he was "very, very proud" of the young national team that surprised almost everyone last week in Puerto Rico by qualifying for the 2010 world championships.

"I'm sure Leo will call me," he said. "In fact, I expect him to."

And Rautins most certainly will. However, what Rautins certainly will not do is put any pressure on the two-time NBA MVP. Rautins reiterated his point that the door is always open for Nash to return to the national team, but under no circumstances will he beg, cajole or whine.

"I honestly feel bad for Steve," Rautins said. "He has to hear that question all the time, and a lot of people have been very critical of him at times. I think it's unfair that there is any pressure at all on him to play. He has put in a lot of time with the national team. And he has a lot to think about -- his health, his commitment to the people (the Suns) paying him millions of dollars, his family. There's so much involved."

The one carrot Rautins offered up was the idea that, unlike years past, Nash wouldn't be expected to carry this team on his shoulders.

"This would probably be the best (national) team he ever played with," Rautins said.

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