In 1995 as many NBA fans know the NBA returned to Canada with the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Raps have been come pretty successful with a handful of playoff appearances and coming one missed Vince Carter shot away from facing the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals something that would have made basketball even bigger than it is in this great country. In the same 2000-01 season Michael Hensley moved the Grizzlies to Memphis after promising fans and the league that he would not move the franchise and stunning league the league did not stop the move. I was only 8 when the Grizz moved but I already had a head filled with Basketball passion and I knew that the Grizzlies year in and year out were a bad team that had not even won 30 games in a season yet, but to give up on a city in just 6 years I thought was stunning considering that Memphis is not known for being a great pro basketball market and right now is not showing anyone that moving the franchise was a good idea(Memphis once had the Memphis Tams of the ABA in the 70’s who failed miserably).
Canada's sporting landscape has changed since the Griz were in BC, yes Vancouver is a hockey mad city (as well as being nuts for the BC Lions of the CFL) but I believe now Vancouver would be ready to truly bring an NBA team into the fold. The Pacific Northwest is a place that needs more than 1 NBA team (I’d talk about the Sonics moving but I don’t want to punch my monitor).
I also believe, that as a whole Canada would be able to handle Basketball in more than Toronto or Vancouver here are some other locations in Canada that should get an NBA team one day
Montreal: This city sells out both Montreal Canadians games and Montreal Allouette games and they promote all around the city the Montreal Impact, a soccer team that doesn’t even play in Major League Soccer. Montreal would be a fantastic city to handle the NBA and they city would be able to put their multicultural flare on the game as only Montréal can. Fans in Montreal are passionate, heck they could sell out turtle races and get large TV revenues if RDS had the rights to it or it’s at the Bell Centre.
Edmonton and Calgary: Yeah, call me bias because I’m from Alberta but it could work in either one of the big Alberta cities. Here in Edmonton, the NBA would get over 10,000 fans as it has shown from previous exhibition games that have been in Edmonton over the years but for true long term success and to avoid getting killed by the Edmonton Oilers when it comes to money an Edmonton NBA franchise should play half of their games at the Northlands Agricom and half at Rexall Place or all the games at the Agricom but with the Agricom being only across the street from Rexall if both teams had home games the Agricom may be emptier than Rush Limbaugh’s head but also the Agricom is not a very big facility. I still say it could work in Edmonton as long as the NBA team plays in a stadium where they know they can have a sellout every game. The same goes for Calgary, although an alternative the Stampede Corral seats less than 8,000 (and the Flames played from 1980-83 their imagine that happening in today’s NHL!) which wont be viable for an 82 game NBA season.
Ottawa: Ottawa, is one of the biggest hubs in Canada when it comes to University in Canada, Scotiabank Place hosts the CIS final 8(The Canadian version of March madness) for men’s basketball. Ottawa would be the perfect rival for the Raptors and allow the battle of Ontario to go even further than just in the NHL.
The Maritimes: Halifax, used to host the CIS final 8 every year and for good reason, the fans were always able to show up and support their school the St Mary's Huskies who have won 4 national mens titles and out of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, St. Francis Xavier University has developed into a college basketball power house in Canada winning 3 national men's titles. The fans for both St Marys and StFX are passionate fans are known across Canada for being loud, I believe they would be able to spread that support to an NBA franchise.
Hopefully one day David Stern brings a team or a few back to the true north strong and free which is filled with even more passionate round ball fans.
That's all for now folks, but be sure to check out my sports show, Avry's Sports Show ever tuesday night at 7PM Mountain time on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/avryofedmonton