The Golden Age of Canadian Basketball?
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Canadians in the NBA
The most popular and universally recognized professional basketball league in the world is the NBA, which may be predominantly played on American soil, but outside of US born players, Canada dominates the field of professional ballers.
As it stands, Canada has the highest number of players in the NBA from international shores, with 16 players from the nation on NBA rosters.
It’s fitting the aptitude for the game continues to grow in the country, as basketball’s founder James Naismith was in fact Canadian, inventing the game in 1891 at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Graduates from his class were the first pioneers to filter the game throughout the world, and by the 1930s, basketball was played across the globe and officially accepted as an Olympic men’s competition in 1936.
Due to it’s origin and founder, Canadians were familiar with the game before other countries, with both men and women playing the sport in local YMCAs for schools and clubs as early as the 1900s.
Fast forward nearly 50 years, and Canada’s first professional basketball team started playing in 1946. The Toronto Huskies at the time played in the Basketball Association of America, a forerunner before the official commencement of the NBA. Unfortunately,
Canada’s inclusion in the top flight was short lived, as professional basketball folded in 1948.
The nation would have to wait until 1994 to re-join basketball’s elite, as the NBA awarded franchises to two Canadian cities. The Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies began playing in the 1995 regular season, but the Grizzlies struggled to stay relevant and were eventually forced to relocate to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001.
The Raptors on the other hand have continued to gain popularity and credibility throughout the years. Establishing themselves as a playoff staple in the Eastern Conference over the past decade, the pinnacle moment for the organization came in June 2019, as the Raptors were crowned NBA champions for the first time in franchise history.
According to the Canadian Youth Sports Report, basketball is the third most participated ball sport among young people aged 3-17, trailing only soccer and hockey. This interest in the game from an early age has culminated in Canada producing some of the very best talent on display in the league today.
Boston Celtics power forward Tristan Thompson was an integral part of a championship team in 2016, RJ Barrett is a gifted young scorer for the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the most promising point guards in the league, Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins is a former number one pick, and Jamal Murray is fresh off a phenomenal playoff run for the Denver Nuggets just to name a few.
Canada boasts some excellent former players as well, with the likes of Rick Fox, Bill Wennington and back-to-back league MVP Steve Nash as notable names that drove the growth of the game back home.
With that being said, the future of Canadian basketball has never been brighter. On an international level, they currently have their most talented roster ever assembled, with the hopes of bringing a gold medal home in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It’s safe to say the game is in a very good place, and will continue on its upward trajectory as we find ourselves in the golden era of Canadian basketball.
Canadians have always been leaders in the sport of basketball – heck they invented the game! They are once again leading the way in the digital world by adopting a .basketball domain and joining the .basketball community’ What better way to ensure your basketball related website is easy to find on the internet!