Jul 20, 2011, 4:29 PM EDT
Matt Bonner wants to be Canadian. And not in the “put a maple leaf on your bag as you travel through Europe so you don’t have to try and explain American politics” kind of way.
He played for the Raptors, lives in Toronto in the off-season, his wife and daughter are Canadian, and he wants to play for the Canadian national basketball team.
Leo Rautins, the head coach of the Canadian men’s basketball team, gets so frustrated talking about Matt Bonner that he’s almost at a loss for words….
The fact Bonner, a former member of the Toronto Raptors and current forward with the San Antonio Spurs, has been unsuccessful in procuring his Canadian citizenship, despite getting the ball rolling back in 2008, upsets Rautins to no end.
“It’s very frustrating,” the head coach said on Tuesday, after a Team Canada practice at Ryerson University. “I see a lot of Canadians who are less Canadian than Matt Bonner. His daughter’s Canadian. His wife’s Canadian. His grandfather’s Canadian. He’s got a home here. When he’s not playing for the San Antonio Spurs, he’s here (in Toronto).”
The main stumbling block seems to be the fact that Bonner, a native of Concord, N.H., spends most of the year in the United States. But he has no choice. He plays for San Antonio. Rautins said Canada Basketball has tried to make that point to the federal immigration ministry, but to no avail.
Canada will take place in the Americas tournament in Argentina starting Aug. 30 and the country hopes to have him able to play by then. At that tournament, two of the 10 teams competing will earn an Olympics berth. Teams that finish third, fourth and fifth will get invites to the Olympic qualifying tournament next year, a second chance to play their way in to the games. If not this summer, Canada would love to have Bonner available for that tournament.
All they have to do is convince some bureaucrats.
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