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Old 01-06-2012, 04:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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He was the Sun God. The Golden Child. There wasn’t a more respected NBA front office executive than Bryan Colangelo during his 15-year tenure in Phoenix, 11 of those years spent as the team’s GM. While the Suns never ended up securing the NBA title, Colangelo built a consistent winner that made trips deep into the playoffs on numerous occasions. He also showed to have a good eye for young talent, getting Michael Finley, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa from the NBA draft despite never drafting higher than ninth.
So when Colangelo fled north to Toronto to become the team’s GM and President in February of 2006, it was considered a coup for the Raptors. Jerry Colangelo’s Golden Child was sure to bring some sunshine up north to Canada with him.
"I'm hoping to change the image of a great organization and great city," the younger Colangelo told USA Today shortly after being hired by the Raptors. "It's ripe for a lot of growth."
An image change was definitely in order for the Raptors, whose “good old days” consisted of an Eastern conference semifinals appearance in 2001 (they lost to Philadelphia in seven games). In the franchise’s 11 campaigns B.C. (Before Colangelo), Raptors’ fans only got to enjoy three winning seasons and one playoff series victory (in three tries). And to add salt in the fans’ wounds, all of the team’s stars – Damon Stoudemire, Marcus Camby, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter – couldn’t wait to bolt back across the border once given the opportunity.
We’re quickly coming up to the five year anniversary of Colangelo’s pledge to change the Raptors’ image – so perhaps now is a prime time to assess his time spent up north? So how has Colangelo done? As the French Canadian would say, “Comme ci, Comme ca” (“so-so”). Colangelo certainly seemed to have a King Midas’ golden touch when he first arrived in Canada, spurring the team onto a 20-win improvement his first year there, earning himself 2007 NBA Executive of the Year honors. But after posting winning records those first two years and making the playoffs, things have gone back to usual for the Raptors – middling win totals, star players leaving town.
The most recent star to leave the country was of course Chris Bosh, who took his talents to South Beach. But that wasn’t necessary a bad thing, and Colangelo is wise enough to realize that.
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