The Jack Donohue Classic is an annual tradition in Canada honoring Canadian coaching legend Jack Donohue. This year Canada will be playing Jamaica on Thursday and Saturday. While in Toronto, Tristan Thompson was able to catch up with Holly Mackenzie from The Globe and Mail.
On the effect of the success of Anthony Bennett and himself on their hometown:
"I think basketball is the sport of the town right now. Especially with all the success we’re having and all the guys who are doing big things, I think it’s kind of taking the city by storm and the whole city is really embracing it and understanding that Toronto kids, GTA kids (Greater Toronto Area), are really stepping up."
While I don't live in the GTA; I can tell you that even in Winnipeg there is a considerable buzz about the state of Canadian basketball. People are still skeptical about whether or not the sport will take a step forward on the national stage; but there is no denying that the recent influx of Canadian prospects signifies a changing of the times. Basketball has always had more of a cult like following with no real mainstream attention. It's hard to not notice how much things have changed recently. Tristan spoke about this as well:
"So much has happened. In the past two, three years, for players, they’re taking the game more seriously. I think, four or five years ago, guys were playing basketball, but it was more of a hobby or a thing to keep themselves busy."
Tristan also spoke about his mindset with coming into a very important stretch for Canada's program, according to RealGM.com:
"Coming here with my NBA background and leadership, looking to rally all the troops together. This is really the first opportunity really where Canada's had a team where people actually think we can win.
I'm just coming here with the mindset of a leader and we're going to go out there and win."
This opportunity is obviously huge for Canadian basketball as they try and earn a spot in next years World Championships but could prove to be a huge opportunity for growth in Tristan. He certainly is saying the right things and has shown leadership skills in the past but as likely the best player on this Team Canada roster he will be tested on and off the court. This will provide him with the chance to refine his leadership skills and become a stronger person. If he takes full advantage of this opportunity it will pay future dividends for the Cavaliers.
His attitude and leadership has already turned some heads earning high praise from Canada's general manager Steve Nash:
"It’s such a luxury to be able to have somebody like Tristan. He’s obviously becoming a great player in the NBA and a star and he’s also got a great personality, a big smile, he’s fun to be around and he’s a great person. So when you have someone like that, it’s the total package and that’s why he’s one of the leaders of our team."
This is all pretty exciting stuff. I personally can't wait to watch Tristan play tonight at 7 PM Eastern and see what the right-handed incarnation of his game has to offer.