NBA suits tour T.O.

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The Raptors are one step closer to playing host to the 2008 NBA all-star game.

Members of the 2008 NBA all-star game selection committee visited Toronto last Friday to meet with Raptors officials. They also toured the Air Canada Centre and other downtown Toronto sites.

Earlier this year, the Ontario government and Tourism Toronto committed a combined $1 million in funding for the bid.

Phoenix, New Orleans and Memphis also have expressed interest in playing host to the 2008 game.

A site decision could be more than a year away, however. The NBA awarded the 2006 all-star game to Houston earlier this month.

SAM AND JERRY

Raptors rookie coach Sam Mitchell said he'd love to coach the same team for 17 seasons, like Utah Jazz counterpart Jerry Sloan, whose team played Toronto at the Air Canada Centre last night.

"If you've got it like Jerry Sloan's got it, sure," Mitchell said when asked if he can picture such a long stay in one city.

So, how does Sloan do it? Mitchell said the key is having support from upper-level management. Mitchell and Raptors general manager Rob Babcock seem to get along just fine, but the Toronto bench boss admits he can't run things exactly like Sloan because he hasn't been around long enough.

"I think you've got to try to build with the team you have," Mitchell said. "In Utah's instance, because Jerry has been there so long, he can pick the players he wants to fit his style. We want those things, but we're trying to take what our players do best and utilize them in the system that works best for them. It's not necessarily what I want to do, it's what is going to fit the players."

BRIEFLY

The Raptors will have today and tomorrow off to celebrate Christmas before gathering in Phoenix on Saturday for an expected practice. The Raptors face the Suns in Phoenix on Boxing Day.


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