A Toronto NBA title will turn the town into Canada’s temporary party central, says former Cyclones star Naz Mitrou-Long
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Attending Naz Mitrou-Long’s basketball camp on Friday at the All-Iowa Attack Fieldhouse in Ames? Be prepared to be entertained, because if Toronto wins the NBA championship Thursday night, your primary camp instructor will be on top of the world.
The former Iowa State star proudly wears his Toronto heritage on his body – his hometown address in Mississauga is in large numbers indelibly up and down his right side. “Fifteen no-traffic minutes away from Toronto,” Naz told me while we sat in the Cyclones locker room that he still calls home Tuesday.
He’s Raptor through and through — except for the fact that he played in the Utah Jazz organization last season and becomes a free agent on July 1.
“It’s all good, Mitrou-Long said.
It’ll especially be “all good” if Toronto wins when the best-of-seven series returns to the Golden State Warriors’ home court Thursday night.
“It’ll mean more than any words that can be put into form,” Mitrou-Long said. “It’s special. Myself, Andrew Wiggins (also of Toronto), Dillon Brooks … all of us have been talking about it. It’s wild to see the Raptors up 3-2. Wow.”
Naz actually watched the Warriors win Game 5 from the comfort of Iowa State’s Sukup practice facility locker room. That’s right. Just Naz, a couple Cyclones team managers and a big screen.
He got into town late Monday. He felt so full of energy that he worked out at the practice facility he once called home. He checked on the score. He shot balls. He lifted weights. He checked the score.
“This place — man -— when I come here, I get a different kind of energy going,” said Naz, who throughout his Cyclones career was known as a workout-a-holic.
He had a different type of energy going when Golden State star Kevin Durant was assisted to the locker room in the second quarter after suffering an Achilles injury. Naz doesn’t anger easily; he’s always got a smile on his face, but on this occasion, he was incensed when some classless Raptors fans actually cheered Durant’s injury.
“For the most part, most Canadians are raised the right way,” Naz said, “but when I heard that on the TV, I was taken back. There’s always going to be a small group of people; it’s like instinct when a great player goes down.
“Those people couldn’t have known what it was. You don’t cheer for that kind of stuff. Those people that cheered I hope were waking up Tuesday morning feeling like idiots.”
Mitrou-Long’s long first day back in Ames crept into early Tuesday morning. Finally, he was tired. He was ready to crash — so he slept on an air mattress inside the locker room.
“I was all set up,” he said. “I had food. I had a bed. I had a big screen. It was just so late …
“It was a good reminder of the humble beginnings — when my bank account was like minus $179 when I was going to school. I woke up at 7 for another workout (Tuesday morning). I was fresh and ready to go again.
“I didn’t mind it at all.”
He watched Game 3 of the Raptors-Bucks series in Toronto. He’ll watch Game 6 somewhere in the city in which he became an Iowa State fan favorite.
“It’ll mean everything to the people in Toronto and Canada if the Raptors win,” he said. “If people are into partying — I’m telling ya, that Toronto will be the place to be.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register