Maurizio Gherardini: Good Bye to the European Movement?


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TORONTO, ON– Before considering who the Raptors will pick in the June 23rd NBA draft, there have been a few decisions that MLSE have made, and one that is still in the works. By now, everyone knows that General Manager Bryan Colangelo has been given a two year extension, with an option for a third year, while Jay Triano has been relieved of his duties as Raptors’ head coach. Triano will remain on board as a consultant for the team. 

Colangelo’s extension has been met with mixed reviews. Many fans were glad to have him back, possibly understanding that despite the Raptors’ struggles, he was still the best option. Others believed heads should have rolled, led by Colangelo’s, after years of underachieving and lack of playoff berths.mauriziogherardini.jpg

While you cant make everyone happy, the Raptors should look to satisfy angered fans by holding themselves accountable for the poor play and the embarrassing efforts fans have had to endure for the past three seasons, but specifically, this passed year. 

At this point, we know the mastermind behind the Raptors’ squad, Bryan Colangelo, is here for at least two more seasons. Indeed, Triano is gone, but more needs to be done by the MLSE to ensure fans that this team is going in a different direction.

The scapegoat might just be assistant General Manager Maurizio Gherardini, whose contract is up at the end of the NBA playoffs. Gherardini joined the Raptors in June 2006 as the club’s vice president and assistant GM.  Coincidently, the Raptors added another Italian that year, drafting Andrea Bargnani with the number one overall pick. 

Well, upon further review, was it a coincidence? Prior to Gherardini joining the Raps, he was the General manager of Italian team Benetton Treviso, the same team Bargnani played for in Italy. To take it a step further, 2006 was the year the Raptors acquired Jorge Garbajosa from Spain, Anthony Parker-who was playing in Israel, and Slovenian Rasho Nesterovich.

The infamous European experiment began in 2006 with Colangelo and Gherardini at the helm of the Raptors. It is now 2011, and MLSE and Colangelo need to let fans know that the experiment is over, finished, with no remnants moving forward. Yes, Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza may or may not be on the roster next year, but Gherardini is one Euro the MLSE can certainly rid themselves of. It would be illogical and unfair to blame the Raptors struggles solely on Gherardini, but he does act as a figurehead for the entire European movement. 

After all, European basketball in Toronto has become synonymous with jump shots, lack of hustle, porous defence (to be kind) and just overall lackadaisical play.

Furthermore, relieving Gherardini of his duty would act as a parallel for the job Colangelo has already started. Demar Derozan, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless, combine to form a young core of North American born players. They play a strong, gritty, hustle oriented form of basketball that was/is not present in many of the European players the Raptors have fielded. If Gherardini was brought in because of his knowledge of the European game and it’s players, that knowledge has now been rendered useless by this new North American movement.

It is time for the Raptors to shed the European skin, dig a hole, bury it, and never look back. 

Photo Courtesy: / Rogers Sportsnet The FAN590





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