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Great article regarding Anthony Bennett

CavFanPR
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Great article regarding Anthony Bennett

http://narrative.ly/face-of-a-nation/the-great-canadian-hoops-hope/

he high-rise towers in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighborhood stretch into the sky in shades of faded brown and gray, but at dusk, lit by the flame of the sun, they glow like the burning end of a match.

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Playing by Ear

In February, the sun fades as the workday ends, and the Jane Street bus bumps down the snow-caked road, standing room only at six in the evening. It’s filled with chatter in different dialects — Jamaican Creole, Spanish, Portuguese. A reggae song plays on someone’s cell phone. The bus creeps forward, inches from the bumper in front of it. The wind pushes north up Jane, barreling past Finch Avenue.

In this corridor of northwest Toronto, there is hope and ambition, but the nuance of ordinary life rarely filters into the mainstream. The media comes around when another body drops, and it leaves shortly after. There is a history in Jane and Finch, an oft-told narrative that only further perpetuates the community’s problems — violence, gangs, poverty, isolation.

There are other stories — of happiness and strength, of those overcoming ghettoization and a lifestyle dictated by its environment — but it’s mostly on mute to the world on the other side; the crime makes too much noise.

The townhouse complex known as The Lanes in the Jane and Finch area of Toronto.
The townhouse complex known as The Lanes in the Jane and Finch area of Toronto.

At 300 Grandravine Drive, there is a 306-unit townhouse development known locally as The Lanes. The homes are stacked back and forth in rows, a labyrinth of alleys and tarmac and brick walls. The blinds in each home, uniform in sun-bleached pastel, are mostly drawn shut. Front walks are peppered with tricycles and rusted-out barbecues, chained in place and buried beneath the snow. A sagging wood fence, coated in chipped green paint, winds up and down the enclosure.

The surrounding landscape is flat and treeless, concrete and steel. On one brown brick wall, “FAMILY FIRST” is written in white chalk and block letters. The imprint is fading, washed out by time and weather.

Anthony Bennett grew up here.

This past June, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern called Bennett up to the stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the number one overall pick in the NBA draft. It was the first time in the NBA’s sixty-eight-year history that a Canadian was the top pick. No one, not even Bennett, was expecting it. When Stern called out his name, the room rattled with nervous chatter. Bill Simmons, an ESPN analyst, could only shout with surprise, before quipping, “I need medical help.”

UNLV's Anthony Bennett, who was selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA basketball draft, speaks during a news conference Thursday, June 27, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
UNLV's Anthony Bennett, who was selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA basketball draft, speaks during a news conference Thursday, June 27, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Two days later, Bennett held his first press conference back in The Lanes.

He stood on a stage of wooden pallets, the high summer sun beating down, and told the community that this was still his home. “I came from just down the street,” he said. “I'm just like you guys.”

The local children momentarily stood still as the sudden hero stepped into their world and the camera crews and reporters followed — there, this time, to celebrate a measure of success.

Bennett draped his massive arms around the residents, a black polo shirt hanging loosely from his frame, and they laughed and shouted his name. He posed for pictures and walked through the neighborhood, over the same tarmac against which he’d spent countless hours pounding a basketball as a child.

He'd returned as a basketball player, but his importance stretches beyond athletics. He is a source of inspiration; a running and dunking testament of success.

When he left, he promised to come back again.

* * *

Bennett entered the NBA at twenty years old, not quite old enough to have a drink in his new city, but old enough to carry the weight of its basketball fans. Cleveland lost its son, the self-appointed Chosen One, when LeBron James, born and raised in Akron, headed to South Beach four years ago. In his place, a young point guard, Kyrie Irving, is trying to restore the faith of the city’s basketball fans, a responsibility that Bennett now shares.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' Anthony Bennett dunks in front of Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
The Cleveland Cavaliers' Anthony Bennett dunks in front of Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Bennett is 6’8”, 260 pounds, with wide eyes, full cheeks and a face that makes him look even younger than his twenty years. He is also, unexpectedly, at the forefront of an unprecedented wave of Canadian basketball talent.

This past year more than one hundred Canadians played NCAA Division 1 basketball; many were impact players with professional potential, and more are on the way. Next year, Trey Lyles, a 6’10” forward from Canada’s central prairies, widely considered the best Canadian in the high school class of 2014, is expected to start at Kentucky. Andrew Wiggins, who declared for the NBA draft this month after one college season at Kansas, could become the second Canadian to go first overall. Canada’s national basketball program has begun identifying talented kids who are still in grade school, placing them into their system, and grooming them to follow in the wake carved by Bennett and the rest. Canada’s basketball pipeline, for the foreseeable future, is surging.

Some of these players, like Wiggins, have the potential to be transformative talents and saviors of an NBA franchise. They could, eventually, outshine Bennett. At worst, his career could be reduced to a footnote, a piece of trivia, his one brief historical moment all that is preserved — but it’s far too early to tell and in Toronto, there’s an entire community betting otherwise.

There's a lot more on the link.


Memphis Madness
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He would be great on the

He would be great on the Browns with Johnny Manziel.

CavFanPR
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He's a good basketball player

He's a good basketball player too! But yea, he would dominate football.

arambone
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6'8" 260, sounds like Parker

6'8" 260, sounds like Parker and Randle in a year or two, lol.

Taylor Gang Mike
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Good article

Good article

Memphisboy14
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Great Read

It makes me root for him even more.

tidho
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He's a class act. There were

He's a class act. There were a lot of things working against him last season. If he's in shape and working with the team all summer I think he can make a major jump.

OhCanada-
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I was just playing ball with

I was just playing ball with the kids in the Driftwood lowrises. Kids have it tough here they feel they have fto live up to a certain BS standard. Its nice to teach them the values of "passing" as stupid as it sounds a person that passes the ball alot in a pickup game is usually a standup kid. These are the standards in the hood. http://jane-finch.com/videos/hustleon.htm

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