Bargnani plays it calm and cool about return; as was expected
Now, the secret is out of the bag.
As part of the big Andrea Bargnani Return for tonight’s Raptors-Knicks pre-season game – and an NBA pre-season game needs all the hype it can get to be interesting – there are two things Bargnani is sure to hear.
Boos from the fans.
And Primo Pasta jokes for his former teammates.
“I miss those Primo pasta commercials, they don’t play those no more before the game this year,” Amir Johnson said about the relentless ad campaign that centred on Bargnani for seasons.
And it was part of the team routine during his last year in Toronto.
“I loved them, we teased him every day about that,” said Johnson.
“’Do you got some Primo for us?’”
‘“No, I don’t eat that.”
So there you have it, the spokesman wasn’t in love with the product.
That was about as newsy as it got as 20 or so reporters tried to poke and prod and cajole Bargnani into tearing a strip off the team he played seven seasons for.
He wouldn’t play along.
“I don’t know,” he said about the expected reaction tonight. “I don’t really think about that. I was lucky to play here for seven years, this is a great organization, great fans, that’s all I’ve got to say, just positive stuff.”
Too bad, because there’s not likely to much positive coming from the stands; if that bothers Bargnani, he’s not letting on.
“Again, for me the most important thing is I played here for seven years,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of fans here because I see that from twitter and Facebook. I was lucky to play here, it is a great city, great organization, great fans. I just have positive things to say.”
His former teammates, who came to his defence when he was booed as a Raptor last season, are still firmly in his corner now that he’s gone.
Johnson called him a “cool dude, funny” and said the treatment he got at the end of last season was over the line.
“We were pissed, man. No matter if he was playing well or not, as fans they should just be supportive and for us no matter if we win or lose. We were kind of upset about that.”
But it was time, everyone concurred, for Bargnani to go and the deal that netted Toronto Steve Novak and a couple of future draft picks was welcomed last summer.
“I felt like he had been here for so long and basically I felt like he had to carry the organization on his shoulders after CB left, everybody was looking for him to do a lot more and fans became heated, he wasn’t doing as well as he was supposed to,” said Johnson. “When you have that on your back, it just feels like it’s time for a change.”
Bargnani wouldn’t even bite on that one.
“That’s what happened,” he said of the trade. “We’ll see how that is going to work out.
“Seven years is a long time, there was a lot of talk about trade definitely in the last year. It was a tough season, I had injuries, didn’t even play half the games I was supposed to play so it is what it is. You have to move on and be motivated and take the challenges.”