As part of their 15th Anniversary celebrations, the Toronto Raptors honored former PF Charles Oakley Wednesday night, an occasion that has me checking the schedule to see when Doug Christie’s number is being retired. The Globe & Mail’s Michael Grange used the opportunity to recall a time when the legendary clotheshorse/gourmand/Michael Jordan wingman wasn’t welcomed with open arms north of the border.
Seems Oak wasn™t very happy about coming to Canada. The Raptors were the NBA™s version of Siberia and coming off that epic 16-66 season, he was probably right. As the exiled toast of New York, Oak was sincerely grumpy when he pulled up to the border crossing on his way to training camp, driving up from his home in Cleveland. He™s rolling in a black BMW with tinted windows, stuffed to the gills with whatever belongings he might need to make the Royal York Hotel feel like home away from home.
The border guards are curious maybe even suspicious and Oak gets questioned. He tells them he™s on his way to play for the Raptors, but that doesn™t quite cut it. They want to see his work papers and documentation etc., but Oak doesn™t have it. They search the BMW. Tens of thousands of dollars of suits only Oak and the Ohio Players could wear are being rifled through, and who knows what else.
He™s mad. He calls his agent. œThis is bull***, call (then Raptors GM) Glen Grunwald, F*** this! I™m not coming up there, I™m turning around right now.
Diamond calls Grunwald, who in turn gets pumping on trying to find out how to get a very angry, very big, power forward admitted to Canada. On a Sunday.
The story doesn’t quite end there, but in the interests of protecting Canada’s newspaper industry, I suggest you check out the rest of it yourself.