Raptors’ R. J. Barrett at unveiling

By Lincoln DePradine

Professional basketball star R. J. Barrett is Canadian, so it’s not surprising that one of his heroes is Lincoln Alexander, who was Canada’s first federally elected Black Member of Parliament.

Raptors’ R. J. Barrett at unveiling

“I’ve heard many great things about him,’’ Barrett, a member of the Toronto Raptors, told The Caribbean Camera, while attending an event in honour of Alexander, a lawyer who also served as Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor and chancellor of the University of Guelph.

Alexander died October 19, 2012. He was 90.

Barrett was among several Ontario residents that gathered at the legislative building at Queen’s Park for the unveiling of a bronze bust bearing the image of Alexander.

It’s the first time the image of a Canadian politician, who is of African descent, is being displayed in any of the country’s parliament buildings.

Raptors’ R. J. Barrett at unveiling

Barrett said he’s interested in learning more about the late Lieutenant-Governor Alexander.

“I’m just trying to continue to learn more and I’m trying to inspire people to come and to learn more about him and just what he stood for,’’ said 23-year-old Barrett, who was born to Jamaican parents and raised in Toronto.

Barrett, who has represented Canada at junior and senior basketball tournaments, was selected third overall by the New York Knicks in the 2019 draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In his NBA debut, he scored 21 points and also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

New York, who re-signed Barrett to a four-year, $120 million deal in September 2022, traded him to the Raptors last December.

In January, in his first game with the Raptors, Barrett netted 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 124-121 Toronto win over Cleveland.

“It feels good to be back home,’’ Barrett said in a Caribbean Camera interview. “I’m very comfortable and I’ve been enjoying it so far.’’

Barrett and his teammates are away this weekend, with Toronto – the 2019 NBA champions – playing the Houston Rockets on Friday; and, on Sunday, the team will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder.