Nash Was Almost … A Raptor?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Surely, this news won’t make anyone in Canada feel better about it now. And there is nothing worse in free agency than “almost” nabbing the huge star that could change the fate of a franchise. But if it makes you feel any better Toronto, Steve Nash was almost … a Raptor.

That homecoming dance would have been off the charts, of course — Canada’s beloved two-time MVP returning to his roots and carrying the banner for a Raptors team trying to navigate its way back to postseason relevance.

How close was it to happening? Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun made the trip to Los Angeles to find out:

In an interview with QMI Agency last week, Nash confirmed he was on the verge of signing a deal with the Raptors. GM Bryan Colangelo reportedly offered the Victoria, B.C., product a three-year, $36-million contract — close to $10 million more than he received from the Lakers.

“I was very close, you know,” Nash said. “Because it appeared that they were going to be an option long before free agency started. So I got my head around that and I was comfortable with that and happy with the opportunity to play in Toronto. But when this opportunity (with the Lakers) became a reality, I couldn’t pass it up.”

The pros and cons between joining the Lakers or the Raptors would obviously contrast sharply for a player in Nash’s position, a guy who in the twilight of Hall of Fame career with chasing a championship (or two) at the top of his list of priorities.

That said, the idea of going home to Canada and being the face of basketball for an entire nation in the flesh as well as symbolically, must have meant something to Nash, too.

Nash’s final decision, of course, was much more complicated than just where he wanted to play basketball. There were family concerns involved, including the needs of his children and how he could best address those while also continuing to play in the best situation possible.

Ultimately, the proximity to his children (in Phoenix) made the Lakers, with all of the other things they had to offer (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and later Dwight Howard, as teammates, just for starters), and their winning tradition the more attractive destination:

It’s all about winning. Even with Nash in the fold, the Raptors weren’t going to win anything this season, and probably not next season, either. Still, that didn’t stop a great many Raptors fan from pounding on Nash for turning his back on the only Canadian team in the NBA. Captain Canada, as Nash was called when he still played for the national team, was branded a traitor, and worse.

Nash heard and read the criticisms and it hurt. But he was eager on this day to make the point that he didn’t use the Raptors in some diabolical way to garner a better deal in New York or L.A., and was sincerely excited about the prospect of playing on home soil.

“It wasn’t in any way like, ‘Oh well, I gotta go to Toronto.’ I was thrilled,” Nash said.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t a team contending for a championship. But I love Toronto, it’s home in many senses. And I think it’s a first-class organization and a first-class city and I would have been extremely proud to play for them and represent the city, and play for those fans and hopefully help get that team into the playoffs.”

Raptors fans have their own business to tend to now. Nash has his fair share of challenges awaiting him this season with the Lakers.

How that marriage might have worked had Nash returned to Canada instead of making Hollywood home will remain a mystery that haunts Raptors fans for at last the foreseeable future, or at least until they claw their way back to the playoffs.

39 Comments

  1. miami Boy says:

    Nash should of gone to the raptors he would of got some talent to come with him too and Toronto is beautiful as well and if he would of gone it would be like the 09 suns all over again

  2. joe says:

    toronto is a cool city

  3. Phil says:

    Nash has about 2 years left in him. It will take about two more years untill the raptors get better (because of young age) So nash going to lakers does not upset me even though i live in toronto.

  4. Inshan says:

    Why does nba.com hate on Canada so much? Every month or so they’ll throw in a jab here and there, I don’t get it. We have some of the most rabid fans in the league, 5th largest city, tons of profits – where do you get the idea about selling the team and relocating? We may surprise everyone this year and sneak into the 8th spot, can charlotte, sacramento, minnesota, cleveland etc say that? Never any mention on this site about the poor shape those franchises are in, I guess it’s easier to look up north. smh.

  5. Freakin kidding me says:

    hangtime blew this out of proportion, CANADA DOESNT HATE NASH

  6. brandon says:

    MOST Raptor fans wanted lowry instead of nash

  7. brandon says:

    CANADA DOESN’T HATE NASH, GO GET THAT RING

  8. Fo Real says:

    I am Canadian and I am happy Nash didnt join the Raptors. I want him to have a chance to win not play for a chance to get into the Playoffs and any tru Fan of his would admit that LA was the right choice… Even if your canadian you must understand and be happy for him!

  9. Chris says:

    thank god Nash didn’t come to Toronto. as someone who lives there and a Canadian all we want is to see Nash win. The idea that because he is Canadian that we all wanted him to come play here is just not true. Canadian Basketball fans can care little to none about the Canadian players on the raptors, really it comes down to winning and trading for an old point guard ain’t gonna help in the wins department. Regardless of how great Nash is, Toronto doesn’t have the pieces around him to get the championship we all want him to win.

  10. Jason says:

    Honestly, Lowry is better fit for Raptors.

  11. "Reliable Soource" says:

    I’m from Toronto and I haven’t come across one Raptor fan that hated Nash for choosing Lakers for a chance to win a ring. The writer of this article has the wrong perception of what’s going on in Toronto sports fans minds. We were disappointed that he never signed with the Raps…but NOT hating on the guy. This was NOT the same situation like Vince Carter back in the day. This was NOT like Chris Bosh giving Bryan Colangelo the heads up that he plans on moving on before trade deadline so that we can get some good value in return. This was NOT like the drama with Tracey McGrady where he didn’t want to play in the shadow of his cousin Vince and wanting to be “The Man” on another team.

    All-in-all, we love Steve Nash and there are no grudges here. No drama. Nothing.
    The whole idea of getting Nash was to put Toronto back on the map and help attract good players to come play with him. And make noise in the playoffs.

  12. TTKIN says:

    Is this news? I thought it was known all along he was gonna go to Toronto or NY? Until July 4th, I thought it was a guarnatee he’d be suiting up for Toronto.

  13. BIG NISCH says:

    NO POINT IN BEING BEHIND THE BUSH… NASH WANTED THE RING… SO HE WENT AFTER THAT. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I still respect Nash even being a Raptor fan.

  14. Califan says:

    At the end of the season Nash would have almost been a NBA champion.

  15. Mike Playter says:

    Lets face it, Any rapotrs fan would like the idea of Nash playing in toronto, just as much as LA fans like the idea of Nash playing in LA. It would have been cool to have Captain Canada play for the only team in Canada but at the end of the day Nash wants to win. The raptors are a LONG way from even reachnig the confernce finals so any knowledgable rapotrs fan had a hope that he would come here, but If a better team made a reasonable offer, clearly he would of pulled the trigger, ans he did. no one here is “hating” on anyone.

  16. ShottaG says:

    Not a big deal that Nash didn’t come to T.O. Im a raptors fan at heart and it would have been nice but were again in this “building” phase. I don’t see him being the big factor in L.A as they have no bench and unless their starters play all 48 minutes come playoff time they will be ousted. As for the raptors we have the atlantic division to worry about and nash would have probably attributed to a few more wins but would that be enough for a playoff spot..I dunno..In any event would have been nice to see it but I get where he’s coming from and his decision was based on thought not heart.

    • Ryan Perry says:

      Not heart? only thought? would you want to be 2500 miles away from your family? i think it was more of a heart choice, when you add the chance of playing with that many superstars on an elite team only sweetens the pot.

  17. Torontonian says:

    why do these writers not get that all the real fans and most of the city did not want nash to come to toronto
    this is not because we dont love him it is because we want him to get that elusive ring and become a legend.
    if he had come to Toronto at the very most we would have been a first round exit (We are not satisfied with this) i did not care when carter left or when bosh left because we were not going to get a ring with any of them. and now i do not “hate” Nash or refer to him as a “traitor” as Sekou (thee writer) said. Nash come to Toronto for a visit or two we will show you that what these people tell you is not true.
    P.S this is not the first article about this to be posted on nba.com and even for that article when you read the comments you see how not a single one of them is against Nash it was actually against the Writer Schuman or what ever (i stopped reading his posts) GO LAKERZ! GO RAPTORS!

    • Bonafide says:

      THIS.

      I know the blogs are a bit dry these days since the season has not started but really, this again? tsk tsk Sekou
      WE IN CANADA DO NOT HATE NASH.

      We only are bitter that we lost a GOOD PLAYER IN THE FA market, regardless of who it could have been.

      Best of luck to both Lakers and Raptors this upcoming season.

    • Koree says:

      I’m more excited about a 26 year old Lowry then a 48 year old Nash

      • 416 says:

        Agreed. We love nash but it wasn’t like a lebron james calibur player didn’t come to town. We never hated him to go for a ring at Lakers.

  18. Douglas says:

    For the record, not all Raps fans were calling for Nash’s head or calling him a traitor. As bad as my team needs a solid PG and as awesome as it would have been for Nash to play for Toronto (which is not his home town team, just the team that happens to be in the same country; and is on the completely different side of the country than the place where he grew up), my friends and I wanted Nash to go somewhere where he could accomplish something more in his career.

    Nash will do more for his country by being a critical part of a team vying for a championship and possibly even winning at least one, than he would being the first ever productive Canadian player on Canada’s (currently) only team (NOTE: Jamaal Maglore doesn’t count as productive, unless you count bench warming and filling a roster space as productive).

  19. brandon says:

    honestly, how can raptor fans boo nash, im a rap fan and im love captain canada, and im happpy he gets a chance for a ring. Raptor fans who boo nash are just too emotional

  20. SHUGGA says:

    easy PATTY its just the pre season…TORONTO is no good. THey keep pickingup random players who have no talent. Toronto is the place where d league players can have a chance. Im suprised they havent sold the team like the Vancouver grizz back in the day….its so hard to watch them (toronto). Nash is looking for a championship. A back to back MVP who still produces like the young cats deserves a ring.

    • Koree says:

      Your going to be surprised . Clearly you don’t follow Toronto at all and have no idea what they’ve done the last few years (hiring Dwayne Casey, demar derozen, bargnani, valanciunas, Lowry all developing we have the best 1-2 pg combo in the league with Calderon on the bench
      There’s no question we can score the ball it’s defense we need to improve. Last year without JV and bargnani AND Lowry we played in tons of last possession games

      We have the best shooting big in the league and if Amir Johnson and Jonas can play defense and demar takes another step forward we will surprise

      • Jhonnie says:

        Look,, I love the Raps. Lets get that straight. But Koree, you clearly aren’t thinking while you’re talking. The Raps for one have nothing NEAR the best 1-2 combo in the league. Kobe & Nash, Westbrook & Harden, D-Will & Johnson, Rondo & Terry, Wade & Allen, Lawson& Iggy – any of which could add Josh Childress and still be a GREAT and I mean by that EXCEPTIONALLY better than our 1-2 with Calderon on the bench. Secondly, best shooting big in the league? Not even in his absolute best is he anything NEAR Kevin Love. Then there’s Channing Frye. You’re wrong. Nash and Kobe Bryant are the best 1-2 combo in the league and prolly will be the best the league has seen in a very long time. Plus Howard who will simply just have to worry about rebounding everyone’s misses and Nash getting Kobe the ball? You really think Nash would do better on the Raptors than on a team with one of the greatest forces the league has seen EVER and the scariest defensive presence in the league? Yes Sugga, the raptors are one of the only teams Alan Anderson get a chance (D-League).

    • Jorvay says:

      I’ve heard this sentiment about the Raptors being sold a lot. I don’t think a lot of people realize that Toronto is a big city. It’s the fifth largest city in North America behind Mexico City, NY, LA, and Chicago and two of those cities support two teams each. The Raptors make money consistently, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. On the list of teams I worry about in the NBA, Toronto is pretty close to the bottom, despite their limited success on the court.

  21. Pat says:

    As nice as it would have been to have Nash join the Raptors, ultimately things worked out for the better. I don’t think the use of the word “Haunt” is necessary, Nash is old now and can help in win-now situations. Kyle Lowry is a better PG for us for the future. Plus I’m happy for Nash, I would want the greatest Canadian basketball player to win a ring or two.

  22. mgm says:

    This is partly incorrect. “with all of the other things they had to offer (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol as teammates, just for starters), ” Nash didn’t have a clue if Howard will be a Laker…

  23. yup says:

    it honestly suks being a raptor fan no one wants to play on ur team not really fair but wat can u do

  24. BRAVO says:

    Raptors all day!

  25. Patty says:

    Nash should have gone to the Raptors. Nash is old and he appears not to be able to help the Lakers.

    The Lakers’s organization should be ashamed of themselves to trade for Nash.

    Look at the Lakers’s bench.

    The Lakers’s bench is just awful.

  26. John says:

    Poor Toronto; they tried several moves this off season and got burned by NY and PHX.