Bitove to get award

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

Toronto businessman John Bitove, who founded the Raptors basketball club in 1993, will receive the inaugural Dr. James Naismith Award of Excellence at the 2005 Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. Scheduled for May 26 at the York Event Theatre in Toronto, the evening will feature the enshrinements of former Canadian men's National Team players Gerald Kazanowski and Bill Wennington. The Naismith Award, presented by Canada Basketball, is an accolade reserved for selected individuals who have significantly enhanced the Canadian basketball landscape through development, commitment, leadership and vision.

Besides founding the Raptors and creating the Air Canada Centre, Bitove was also the head of the organizing committee for the 1994 FIBA world basketball championships in Toronto. He also led Toronto's 2008 Olympic bid, widely considered the best technical bid of the group. Bitove is the chairman, CEO and controlling shareholder of Priszm Canadian Income Fund, which owns and operates 471 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in seven provinces across Canada, generating sales of approximately $460 million annually.

AROUND THE RIM

The Atlantic Division may be the least impressive division in the NBA, but four of the teams, including the Raptors, are on big rolls. Heading into last night's action, every Atlantic Division squad, with the exception of the Philadelphia 76ers, are on win streaks of two games or better ... Former Raptor Jermaine Jackson has signed with the New York Knicks after putting up good numbers with the Great Lakes Storm of the CBA, averaging 20.8 points and 11.8 assists.

ROSE SPREADING THE LOVE

Jalen Rose actually came out in support of Alonzo Mourning, who spurned the Raptors when traded to Toronto by New Jersey in December and signed with the Miami Heat yesterday.

"It's kind of hard for me to be critical that he didn't want to come to Toronto or didn't want to be in Jersey. I know tomorrow may be my last game, but today may be his last day," Rose said, of Mourning's recovery from kidney disease.


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