The, “if [name candidate here] wins, I’m moving to Canada”-joke has been around since 2000, usually insincerely spoken to us by the sort of voter that would actually appreciate what Canada has to offer.
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It, unshockingly, popped up from time to time in 2015 and 2016, as Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s forever-unsteady campaign for the office lurched along. Few thought it anything more than a tired quip, though, with the former Secretary of State well ahead in every major poll entering election night, and with Republican nominee Donald Trump acting as the favored opposition.
On Tuesday evening, Trump won. For a country too shell-shocked to remind itself that the joke’s use was a possibility, the idea that a move to the safe haven of Canada still feels like a desperate (if completely understandable) and mere feint at the moment.
NBA players, retired or otherwise, and coaches have been outspoken in their dismay in reaction to Tuesday’s results. As an aside to lighten up the rather dour mood, Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri decided to just leave this here:
Masai: "I want to thank Donald Trump for making Toronto an unbelievable destination."
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) November 10, 2016
The Toronto Raptors, a team shooting for its fourth straight Atlantic Division championship, are mostly homegrown – in a basketball sense.
The franchise either drafted or traded for studs like DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas. Though Ujiri did nab one of the picks of the 2015’s offseason’s free agent litter in swingman DeMarre Carroll before signing former Boston forward Jared Sullinger last season, the franchise is sadly best known to far too many for being the team that Vince Carter didn’t want to play for over a decade ago, years before Chris Bosh’s free agent departure in 2010.
No amount of Hedo Turkoglu-like signings makes this go away. For myriad reasons, for the team’s 20-plus year run, some stateside players have considered Toronto to be a Siberia of sorts. The most prominent of the myriad has to do with the team’s struggles, as exemplified by Alonzo Mourning’s refusal to play for a terrible, Carter-less Raps team in 2004-05 while on borrowed career time, or top expansion draft pick B.J. Armstrong forcing a trade away from the team after being plucked from Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1995. Given the team’s ineptitude at times, the “Toronto Raptors” stereotype often has little to do with the “Toronto” side of things.
The joke here is that the Raptors will use Donald Trump’s on-record brand of xenophobia to overcome what little batch of that still might exist within the heart of a potential NBA free agent, when it comes time to push for players. For Masai Ujiri, a Muslim and Nigerian immigrant, the quip likely takes the form of some bittersweet humor in the wake of Trump’s campaign promises:
The President-elect just restored his webpage calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. https://t.co/RgyKHElqqd
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 10, 2016
To be fair to the Raptors, they have had some free agent success before.
After years of months of worry during the tail end of the Bill Clinton administration, Vince Carter decided to re-sign with Toronto during the 2001 offseason. His decision was partnered with the moves to retain free agents Antonio Davis (sought by Orlando, amongst several other teams, for maximum money), Jerome and Alvin Williams, while Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon decided to jump to the team in order to take advantage of what many saw as a can’t-miss NBA ascension.
Those decisions took place just a few months after George W. Bush was sworn into office, so perhaps there might be some precedent here.
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