For a game that was invented by James Naismith, basketball is not exactly overflowing with Canadians when it comes to the National Basketball Association, though there is some interesting talent, including one in the head coaching ranks.
Steve Nash has been Canada’s NBA?poster boy in recent years. The South African-born, Victoria-raised point guard is entering his 14th season in the NBA and has already cultivated a career that will one day make him a sure-fire hall of famer. Twice he has been voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and he is a six-time all-star. The only aspect of his career that is missing is an NBA championship.
While Nash has been battling a bad back in recent seasons, he still plays major minutes in games and is arguably the best pure passer in the game. Last year, he set a personal-best record in free-throw percentage making .933 of his attempts.
One of Nash’s former national team head coaches is Jay Triano, who this year will commence his first full season in the NBA after an abbreviated season last year with the Toronto Raptors. Triano has been with the organization since 2002 when he was hired as an assistant coach and made history in the process as the first Canadian hired in that position. Last year, he became the first Canadian head coach in NBA history when he filled in temporarily for Sam Mitchell, who took a leave of absence because of the death of his father-in-law. The Raptors later fired Mitchell and made Triano the interim head coach, but after the season the team removed the interim tag and signed him to a long-term deal.
The NBA has some other interesting Canadian angles. Toronto-born centre Jamaal Magloire is entering his 11th season in the NBA and with his eighth team, the Miami Heat, which signed him last season.
The Heat have another Canadian product in Montreal native Joel Anthony, a forward who is entering his third NBA season. While largely a backup, Anthony started in 28 of the 65 games he played and doubled his minutes from his rookie season. Anthony has played for Canada’s national team.
The other Canadian in the NBA is Samuel Dalembert, a brawny centre with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Haiti-born, Montreal-raised player is entering his eighth season in the NBA, his entire career played in Philadelphia. He has proven his durability, playing every game the last three seasons and averaging about nine rebounds per game.
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