Somewhere in the Barrhaven section of Ottawa lives a four-year-old boy with a Danny Green haircut.Unlike his basketball fanatic brother, Kyran Inyangudor apparently didn’t care much for the sport, but the Toronto Raptors certainly caught his fancy, just like they stole the hearts of a country during a joyous run to their — and Canada’s — first National Basketball Association championship.“Once the playoffs started, it was night and day,” the boys’ father, Idee Inyangudor, said Tuesday in Montpetit Hall at the University of Ottawa before the second and final Ottawa session of the Danny Green Skills Clinic featuring the Raptors guard with the Mohawk trim. “And they love this Danny Green guy. I don’t know what he does, but he captures their minds.”At least one hairline, too. Kyran had fought the idea of getting a haircut, but allowed himself to be trimmed up on Sunday for what turned out to be a Monday photo op with nine-year-old brother Senai, Green and a small replica of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy the Raptors earned with a four-wins-to-two triumph against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.Chiamaka Onwuekwe showed up to display Raptors pride, too, but in her case the title run merely spiked a fever she said had been building for seven years.Now a second-year uOttawa business student from Calgary, Onwuekwe joined three friends, dozens of parents and others watching the on-court action for the camp for 200 boys and girls between ages eight and 16, with drills conducted by Gee-Gees varsity players and alumni, area coaches and eight staff with the organizing group for a tour that has taken Green from Toronto to Ottawa and will continue to Montreal (Wednesday-Thursday), Halifax (Saturday-Sunday), Winnipeg (July 2-3) and Vancouver (July 6-7).Green will also have a two-day session later in July in Chapel Hill, N.C., site of the University of North Carolina, where he was a student-athlete between 2005 and 2009.For the record, Onwuekwe said she and her friends made their collective decision to check out Green’s camp a month ago, before the Raptors defeated the Warriors, but she denied feeling any amount of surprise at the celebrations from coast to coast to coast.
Chiamaka Onwuekwe, a University of Ottawa business student from Calgary, cites the passion and pride of Canadians as factors in the fan fever that erupted during the Raptors’ run to an NBA championship.
Gord Holder /
“First of all, Toronto embodies what Canada is,” Onwuekwe said. “It’s a very multicultural team. There are players from all over the world, and we have a Canadian player as well, so I feel just awesome making it to where we were before the finals, before the playoffs.“Canada was rallying behind (the Raptors) and we knew for a fact that we were going to be proud of them whether they won or not. Their effort, their teamwork, their loyalty to themselves and to us as fans has a huge impact on the way they performed. I’m not surprised at all. I think Canada’s a very passionate country and we’re very proud. We’re the creators of basketball, so we’re proud, we’re happy and we can’t wait for what happens next.”A summer camp series is old hat for Green, a 32-year-old New York native who was acquired by the Raptors from the San Antonio Spurs last summer in the massively important Kawhi Leonard trade, but previous editions focused mostly on Texas.Lead event organizer Darren Duncan, once an all-star point guard with National Basketball League of Canada clubs in Saint John, Halifax, Windsor and Kitchener-Waterloo, said the Raptors had suggested some of the locations for this year’s tour. As of Tuesday, every camp had sold out except Montreal’s at $199 per spot.“There are some other (Canadian) cities we wanted to do,” Duncan said, “but to do all of them would have taken our whole summer.”Green said Raptors players were well aware of the outpourings of support from Cornerbrook to Victoria.“It’s hard to ignore it and not see it because everybody around you has it,” he said. “Your friends have it, your family all see if. If you don’t see it, they’re going to send it to you.”Having already earned one championship ring with San Antonio in 2014, in five games against the Miami Heat, Green has a reference point for comparing NBA title experiences. The Spurs’ base of support was regional, though, not national.“It was amazing to see,” he said. “Part of the reason why we did this tour is to see it in person and experience the fans in the different cities.
Danny Green’s We the Champs shoes. Gord Holder, Postmedia
“Since we have been here, it has been crazy. People stopping in traffic, jumping out of cars, trying to say, ‘Hello,’ speaking to you. It has been amazing.”What apparently doesn’t change, though, are the questions from dozens and dozens of curious kids wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan Team Green or Nowhere.“They ask some silly ones, they ask some good ones, but it’s always about your regiment, how you play, how many shots you take,” Green said. “There’s always questions about Kawhi, even there. There’s always questions about other players, so it’s no different.“They ask me about my free agency, too.”They probably should have asked about his footwear. The man with the last name Green was on Tuesday wearing gold-coloured kicks with a Raptors-theme slogan emblazoned atop the right shoe:We The Champs.firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/HolderGord