Remember when Alonzo Mourning refused to play in Canada? How about Raptor power forward Antonio Davis? After blossoming into an All Star in Toronto, he opted out of his contract because he felt uncomfortable that his kids were singing O Canada. And learning the metric system. These were actual reasons he gave. I do not predict Amir Johnson feeling similarly. Something is happening has happened and it is a genie for whom the bottle will forever be too cramped. Turns out, after two decades of tumult and failure, subtly and steadily, Toronto has turned into a basketball mecca. In a fitting end to the roundball dominance of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, each respectively has been or is being upset by Wizards, common decency and your Toronto Raptors. This isnt emphatic hype from a success-starved fan. This is real. This is how the future of Toronto basketball is going to play out. (Results guaranteed or your money back.) First, Toronto is going to beat the Brooklyn Nets. They are going to do this because they are faster, stronger, better coached and more talented. My words to Garnetts ears, I think theyre tougher too. Id confidently go to battle against KG, Pierce and Deron Williams with Lowry, Amir and Jonas. (Toronto can also selectively deploy Tyler Hansbrough, forcing Brooklyn to be mindful of his ever-present Metta World Peace potential. Observe when Hansbrough is deployed in a game. Always during a "Charles Oakley moment" when a teammate is being manhandled or has taken a series of tough fouls, and it is time for a guy made of elbows to contribute. Last game he played for 8 minutes, committed 3 fouls, and even touched the ball a few times.) The only reason the series goes seven is Torontos lack of experience. Heading into Game 5, the Raptors are now nearing the point of enough collective savvy and bend-but-dont-break guile to beat these paper tigers. The New Jersey Nets of Brooklyn are going down. (Sidenote on Donald Sterling: I would be neglectful not to mention the shadow hanging over an otherwise terrific first round of NBA playoffs. This is a teachable moment to talk about prejudice, especially when a Toronto club has experienced something similar. Remember when Harold Ballard warned us of the Soviet threat in 1979, proclaiming no Russian would ever play for the Maple Leafs, that they were "parasites and barnacles who steal our money?" I think Nikki Borschevsky told me that story. It was just the kind of boldly regressive, anti-humanistic rhetoric which helped spurn a generation of iconic movie villains from Ivan Drago to Boris the Blade. We may never see the same yield of film icons, but after commissioner Adam Silvers welcome and decisive announcement, I guarantee this whole affair ends in the plus column. Before you can explain to your mother that "Instagram is like Twitter with more pets," Magic Johnson will own an NBA team and Donald Sterling will not. Let him waste away in his underground lair, using his billions for, oh, I dont know, drumming up support to bomb North Korea? Backing anti-climate change lobbyists? Pouring millions into Monsantos nuclear corn division? Im not really sure what super-villains are into these days.) Speaking of villains, up next will be Miami, a team Toronto will not get past. This second round series is whats known in the business as "valuable experience". Any team on its way up bonds, grows and learns how to win by getting beat by the best. Do not be surprised when T.O. finds a way to win a game, maybe two (possibly three). This years Heat have a touch of the Nets in them (see: slow, creaky). They also have Lebron so they will be winning. 2014/15. Critical mass. The season NBA fans will remember as the Canadian Invasion. The one lasting achievement of the Vince Carter-era is inspiring a generation of local athletes to basketball greatness. The talent emerging is staggering, and some of it a credit to Carter as the deified player who sparked their imagination as kids. He, and two-time MVP Steve Nash, have long been the main influences for young Canadian ballers. In 1996, Nash was drafted 15th overall, the highest pick in NBA history for a Canuck. But years would pass. Bill Wennington would retire. Carter would move on to half-ass it in other cities. The Northern Uprising would start afresh in 2011, when Cleveland drafted Toronto-native Tristan Thompson 4th overall, a new record. Emerging San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph, a native of nearby Pickering, was drafted 29th. By 2012, a record five Canadians would be drafted, led by Orlando forward Andrew Nicholson (taken 19th). 2013 would be uncharted territory for Canadian ball. It was the first time two Canadians were selected in the lottery, including 13th selection, Toronto-native Kelly Olynyk and, shockingly, another Toronto-native, Anthony Bennett, going first overall. FIRST OVERALL. And he wasnt supposed to be the guy to accomplish that. That honour was being reserved for 2014s expected draft class hero, Raptor fan, and Toronto-native Andrew Wiggins (note the geographic trend). He may still wind up chosen first overall. Highly-touted Toronto-born Tyler Ennis is also declaring for this years draft and expected to go in the first round. 7-foot-5-inch Sim Bhullar (of Toronto) has a chance to be drafted as the first NBA player of Indian descent. Mississauga-native Nik Stauskas is considered a potential lottery pick. The list is long. Peruse the 2014 mock draft board. I did the math. Toronto is the best represented city in the world. Though the seminal players in Torontos basketball history may not be the most beloved, Marcus Camby, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh represent a considerable quantity of upper echelon talent which will someday appear as the bedrock on to which greater success was built. They are testament that superstars can be developed in Toronto, in Canada, where Vince Carter led fan voting for the All Star game four times, and Terrence Ross has been turning on young fans with dunk championship flare. More winning will build more local talent. Perceptions will change. A noteworthy cogitation to pull all this accounting together. It is entirely plausible there could come a day there will come a day when great players around the league are nagging their agents, opting out of contracts early, even colluding with their talented buddies...to come to Toronto. With so much homegrown talent pouring into the league, the standard could well be broken soon, where the prominent talents want to come to Toronto rather than dismiss it. To some extent, it is going to happen. To what extent, will be exciting to witness. >> Gallays Poll #8 << Who would you most like to see receive a hard foul from Tyler Hansbrough?(A) Kevin Garnett (most likely)( Jason Kidd (less likely)(C) Jay-Z (unlikely)(D) All of the above (almost certainly) Lawrence Taylor Jersey . - Christophe Lalancette scored a third-period goal and added the shootout winner to lead the Drummondville Voltigeurs to a 5-4 win over the Quebec Remparts in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play on Sunday. Harry Carson Jersey .com) - The Minnesota Twins made it official on Wednesday, announcing the signing of outfielder Torii Hunter to a one-year contract. http://www.authenticnygiantspro.com/Evan-engram-giants-jersey/ .com) - They didnt meet in the regular season, so Sam Houston State might be saying it won the de facto title game between the two Southland Conference co-champions Saturday. Mark Bavaro Jersey . Alen, 28, hit .315 with five home runs, 59 RBI and a career-high nine stolen bases for the Goldeyes last season. He is the longest serving catcher in Goldeyes history, having already spent five seasons with the organization. Odell Beckham Jr Jersey . Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Fiorentina levelled on aggregate in the 14th minute when Joaquin Sanchez Rodriguez headed back a long ball from David Pizarro and Pasqual smashed home an angled volley.EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Paul Pressey, Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen will be Byron Scotts assistant coaches with the Los Angeles Lakers. Scott announced his coaching staff for the upcoming season Tuesday. Pressey was on Scotts staffs in Cleveland and New Orleans. He played 11 NBA seasons with three clubs. Eyen returns to the Lakers after three seasons as an assistant coach under Pat Riley and Mike Duunleavy from 1989-92.dddddddddddd He was on the Sacramento Kings staff for four seasons until 2013. Madsen is a former Lakers forward, winning championship rings as a backup in 2001 and 2002. He was a player development coach for the Lakers last season. Scott also hired his eldest son, Thomas, as a player development coach. Clay Moser was hired as the Lakers new head advance NBA scout. ' ' '