Europeans warm to playing for chilly Toronto

Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:13pm EST
 
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By Josh Hargreaves

TORONTO (Reuters) - Southern Europeans on the Toronto Raptors NBA team agree that the city's multicultural feel makes it a great destination for foreign players, as long as they pack a snow shovel and long underwear.

Unlike warmer NBA cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, Toronto has a months-long winter season where the average temperature routinely falls as low as minus nine Celsius.

One year, officials had to call in the army to help deal with a major snowfall that crippled the city.

"It's one of the best cities," said Spanish player Jose Calderon, who joined the Raptors in 2005. "But I have to be honest with you, with a little better winter it would be the best."

Toronto is one of the NBA's most northerly venues, and the only one in Canada. As more than half of the city's population of some 5.5 million were born outside the country, the European athletes are easily able to find comforting reminders of home.

SPANISH FOOD

Calderon, who came to Toronto after playing in Spain's premier basketball league, said he knew little about the city before joining the Raptors and was glad to have found a local restaurant that offered a taste of Spain.

"It's a really nice place. The chef, one of the owners, is from Spain and he's a friend of mine. It's great to have a place where I can get some good Spanish food," said Calderon.   Continued...

 
<p>Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani (R) and Marco Belinelli, both from Italy, pose for photos during media day before the start of the NBA team's training camp in Toronto in this September 28, 2009 file photo. Southern European players on the Toronto Raptors NBA team agree that the city's multicultural feel makes it a great destination for foreign players, as long as they pack a snow shovel and long underwear. REUTERS/Mike Cassese/Files</p>