More than two years into his quest for Canadian citizenship, Matt Bonner remains grounded by red tape.
So the former Raptor, known in Toronto as the “Red Rocket,” will watch with fingers crossed as Canada’s men’s basketball team bids this week for a spot in the 2012 Olympics. And then he can only hope he receives his passport in time to suit up in London if the Canadians do qualify.
“I’m just kind of waiting and hoping,” Bonner said in a phone interview. “It’s hard to talk about because it’s kind of a bummer. I just wish it would go through so I could represent the country.”
The 31-year-old, now with the San Antonio Spurs, owns a home in Toronto. His wife Nadia, whom he met while playing with the Raptors, and daughter Evangeline-Vesper are Canadian. He also has a grandfather from Newfoundland.
Yet Bonner’s application for citizenship has been denied once, based partly, according to Canadian coach Leo Rautins, onthe small amount of time he spends in the country during the NBA season.
“I feel bad for him. He’s dying to play, he wants to play,” Rautins said.
Bonner said his passport isn’t all about basketball. He plans to make his home in Toronto once he retires and would apply for Canadian citizenship regardless.
The Canadians tip off the FIBA Americas tournament today against Brazil in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.
The top-two finishers earn berths in London, while the third- through fifth-place finishers will play in a second-chance tournament next summer to determine the final three Olympic entries.
The would-be Canadian Bonner said there couldn’t be a better time to play for Canada, with the ongoing lockout threatening to disrupt the upcoming NBA season.
“That would be sweet,” Bonner said of playing this week in Argentina.
He’ll be keeping a close eye on how Canada is faring.
“Absolutely. I know all those guys, it’s a great group of guys and they work hard,” Bonner said.