That sound you just heard was Raptors fans letting out a collective sigh of relief at the news Jose Calderon is electing to shut it down for the summer.
Anyone who has talked with the Spaniard knows he places a high importance on representing his country, however, this summer he decided his body needed some time to heal from a tough season which saw him struggle to play through injuries to his hamstring and the ring finger on his right hand.
“This was a very difficult decision for me to make because I think that everyone knows that my involvement with the national team is concrete,” Calderon told his fans via his website this weekend. “I have played with them uninterrupted in all of the categories since I was 14 years old and I was very excited about participating in this Championship. Never the less, I know that now I need to rest, recuperate well from the injuries from this season and seriously prepare for the upcoming NBA season where my team requires 100% of my effort to improve our results from last year.”
This news comes as a huge relief to Raptors fans who were worried Calderon would play through some nagging injuries much like his former Raptors and national teammate Jorge Garbajosa did two summers ago.
Garbajosa became a popular player in Toronto during his rookie season by adding toughness and defensive responsibility to a club sorely in need of it. He struck a chord with Raptors fans because he reminded them of the toughness that Charles Oakley brought to the team during the franchises high points in the early 1990′s.
This adoration was short lived as things began to unravel midway through his second season when he suffered serious injuries to his leg and ankle. While injuries are a part of any sport, what soured things between the Garbajosa, the front office and fans is when he chose to play for Spain in the European championships despite the advice of Toronto medical staff and the pleas of Colangelo.
Garbajosa only appeared in just seven games during the 2007-08 season before going on injured reserve and was eventually bought out of his contract.
While covering the Raptors two seasons ago it wasn’t a secret that Garbajosa’s heart belonged to the Spanish national team and hence that was his priority. Even though Calderon values his time representing his country, it became increasing clear while talking with him this season that he would make a decision based on being healthy for next season, not necessarily what his heart told him to do.
Even though Calderon will be missed on the Spanish national team this summer, he’s made it clear he wants to play in the Olympics in 2012 and then at the World Championships being held in 2014 as his final time suiting up for Spain.
That’s fine with Raptors fans – they just want their floor general healthy for next season.