This is pretty impressive. So sad that we failed.
Click the link below to read the rest.Marc Stein wrote:Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo was the first caller to get through shortly after 12:01 a.m. Officials from the Knicks, Heat, Lakers, Mavericks and Nets dialed in soon thereafter. And with his client sitting in such close proximity after their late-night meal, Duffy offered each team that rang an opportunity to speak directly to Nash.
It didn't seem like much at the time, but that's when Nash and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had their first chat. Kupchak let Duffy know that he was well aware of Nash's comments to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN New York 98.7 just days before about how "hard" it would be "to put on a Lakers jersey" after all of the Suns' playoffs battles with Kobe Bryant and Co. When Kupchak explained that he "had to call anyway," Duffy thanked him and assured him that he was wise to check in, dismissing Nash's quotes as "media hype."
Yet that's as far as things went with the Lakers on Day 1. Face-to-face meetings were quickly arranged with the two most obvious serious suitors to get the Nash sweepstakes officially underway: Toronto and New York.
The Raptors were first up at 10:30 a.m., with a seven-strong contingent of team officials arriving on a cross-country flight arranged by Raptors co-owner Larry Tanenbaum. With Raptors assistant coach Eric Hughes getting married that weekend in Pasadena, Calif., Tanenbaum made his private jet available to transport Colangelo, Raptors coach Dwane Casey, Nash's former Team Canada coach Jay Triano and the rest of the group to the other side of the country as quickly as possible overnight.
Tanenbaum also provided his ritzy Central Park apartment to serve as the venue for what Duffy described as a "big presentation." The food was lavish and the contract offer rich, but the video compilation Colangelo ordered up for the occasion made an impression on Nash that moved him more than a three-year, $36 million pitch ever could -- largely because Wayne Gretzky was the narrator.
Rumbles that Gretzky, one of Nash's boyhood heroes, would be involved in the Raptors' Nash pitch leaked out through the Toronto media before the two parties got together, but "involved" was understating it. The Great One's unmistakable voice was the backdrop for a compilation of clips and interviews that traced Nash's lifelong journey from young basketball dreamer on faraway Victoria Island in British Columbia to two-time MVP with the Suns, hitting all the stops (Santa Clara, Canada's fairy-tale run at the 2000 Olympics and more) in between and promising a Gretzky-esque legacy if he'd join the Raptors now.
More than one person in the room would later say that Nash was fighting back tears watching it all.
"We all were," Duffy said. "It was like watching a Hall of Fame video.
"They wanted us to close the deal right then."
Colangelo's approach was reminiscent of the full-court press that greeted Nash from Phoenix on the opening day of free agency back in 2004 -- when another extra-large traveling party descended upon Dallas to swipe Nash away from Mark Cuban's Mavericks -- with the bonus of knowing that the inspired Gretzky wrinkle took the whole operation to a new level. The difference this time, eight years later, is that Nash simply wasn't ready to move that quickly. He couldn't decide that fast knowing that the familiar soil of Toronto, home to Canada's only NBA franchise, was an address far away from his kids.
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