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Why do NBA Players Not Want to Play for Toronto?

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the fourth most populous city in North America. A lively city teeming with culture, entertainment, and majestic views, Toronto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

And home to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the city provides its citizens with a plethora of outing options and luxury real estate that would make even the richest cities in the world blush.

But even with all of these amenities, many NBA players prefer to not play for the Toronto Raptors. And although few NBA players can control the team they are drafted or traded to, the general consensus amongst NBA players is that they would prefer to not play for the Raptors.

But just why is that?

Below, we are going to look at why NBA players do not want to play for the Toronto Raptors and what steps, if any, the management team of the Raptors can take to make the team more attractive to NBA players.

Quick History of Toronto

Toronto is the capital city of the Canadian province of Ontario. With a population of over 2.7 million people, it is the most populous city in Canada and the fourth most populous city in North America.

Toronto is considered one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Teeming with business, finance, arts, and culture, the city attracts some of the brightest minds within Canada and the world.

The Toronto area has been inhabited by indigenous peoples for more than 10,000 years. And after the Toronto Purchase, when the Mississauga surrendered the area to the British Crown, the area was renamed and established as the city of York in 1793.

However, in 1834, the city of York was renamed and incorporated as the city of Toronto.

And while the majority of the current population of Toronto speaks English, the city is home to over 160 spoken languages. This diversity is reflected in the city’s population and is due to Toronto’s role as a destination for immigrants to the country of Canada.

Quick History of the Toronto Raptors

As the only NBA team located in Canada, the Toronto Raptors are a member of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. The Toronto Raptors currently play their home games at Scotiabank Arena, an arena they share with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League.

The Toronto Raptors were established as an expansion team in 1995 alongside the former Vancouver Grizzlies. The establishment of both the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies was done by the NBA to establish a more prominent presence in Canada.

Although the Toronto Raptors struggled in their early years, the acquisition of Vince Carter through a draft-day trade in 1998 helped the franchise to cement a more prominent presence throughout the league.

Following Carter’s departure, the Toronto Raptors would acquire Chris Bosh, who would soon become the face of the franchise. However, after Bosh’s departure to Miami, where he would join Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, the Raptors would begin rebuilding once again.

Their efforts would pay dividends, when in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Toronto Raptors, led by Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, would win the NBA championship.

Famous NBA Players to Play for the Toronto Raptors

  • Vince Carter – Vince Carter played the shooting guard position and is a current basketball analyst for ESPN. He was an eight-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA Team selection. The only player in the history of the league to play 22 seasons and through four different decades, Vince Carter was known for his electrifying dunks, earning him the nickname “Vinsanity”.
  • Chris Bosh – A Texas Mr. Basketball in high school, Chris Bosh played one season of college basketball at Georgia Tech before declaring himself eligible for the NBA. Drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the 2003 NBA draft with the fourth overall selection, he would become a five-time NBA All-Star and played for the U.S. national team, winning the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
  • Kyle Lowry – Kyle Lowry currently plays for the Miami Heat. He has been a six-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors in the 2018-19 NBA season. In addition, Lowry was a member of the U.S. national team that won a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Kawhi Leonard – Kawhi Leonard currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers and is a two-time NBA champion, a five-time All-Star, and a three-time All-NBA First Team selections. Nicknamed the “Claw” for his ball-hawking skills, he was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Why Don’t NBA Players Want to Play for the Toronto Raptors?

While, in recent years, the Toronto Raptors have found success in the league and have become a venerable force in the league, there remains much hesitation amongst players in joining the Toronto Raptors.

Below, we are going to look at a few reasons why many NBA players prefer to play for another team.

  • Distance to Family and Friends – while the NBA is made up of players from across the world, the majority of players were born and raised in America. With roots in the United States, many players prefer to play for a team within the country, allowing for easier access to family and friends.
  • Cultural Differences – while Toronto is located in Canada and is a part of North America, there are cultural differences between the two countries. And while the cultural differences aren’t too different, for many NBA players, becoming accustomed to a different culture can be challenging and difficult.
  • Currency & Tax Considerations – similarly, for many American born NBA players, playing for the Toronto Raptors brings about a slew of currency and tax considerations and implications. As they will be living in Toronto, they will be paying taxes to both Canada and the United States. Similarly, these players will be payed in Canadian dollars, forcing them to exchange the currency to United States dollars.
  • Want to Play in a Larger Market – while Toronto is a large city, it is not considered to be a large NBA market. As compared to New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, Toronto simply does not have the brand awareness surrounding basketball and can diminish a players profile and their overall career earnings.