NBA CANADA SERIES IN VANCOUVER: A HISTORY OF BASKETBALL AND COMMUNITY
No – Vancouver does not have an NBA team.
Yes – Vancouver is crazy mad with basketball fever.
We have fond memories of our time as the home of the Vancouver Grizzlies. The team was established in 1995, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. For six beautiful seasons, basketball fans could see their home NBA franchise at Rogers Arena (then General Motors Place). Financially, the NBA lockout that occurred in 1998 was the turning point for the team. Attendance was down and the weak Canadian dollar made business and maintaining operations a serious challenge. Following a sale, the team was relocated to Memphis.
Unfortunately for Vancouver, our team did not have the dubbed “Carter Effect” like our Canadian counterparts in Toronto. Vince Carter won Rookie of the Year in the shortened lockout season, and Toronto had a rising star to feed their basketball appetites and “Vinsanity”.
Fast forward to 2019 – the Toronto Raptors are the reigning NBA Champions – and basketball has never been bigger in Canada. And of course, the Raptors’ commitment towards marketing themselves as a national entity has gained significant traction in our city.
In hindsight, we may not have been ready back in 1995 to fully understand what we had and how hard we needed to try to keep it. But this basketball crazed city will take any opportunity to enjoy the game in its best form – live and in our local downtown arena.
NBA CANADA SERIES
The NBA Canada Series began in 2014, where pre-season games featuring the Toronto Raptors were featured in major markets in Canada, outside of Toronto. Vancouver has inevitably become a mainstay for the NBA Canada Series, with our basketball hungry fans and starved appetite, every live game opportunity sees tickets sold-out within minutes.
Outside the arena, there is more to the NBA Canada Series than meets the eye. Yes, there are big name players and teams in town and a lot of media coverage – but there is also the community impact story that is lost in all the hype.
Each year the NBA Canada Series has taken place in Vancouver, NBA Canada and their partners have made community investments in a number of deserving locations, ensuring local youth have the opportunity to experience basketball and learn all the values of the sport through participation.
Beginning in 2014, when the Kings came to town to face the Raptors on October 5, 2014, NBA Canada refurbished the basketball court in the gymnasium at the Strathcona Community Centre. The NBA provided funding for the Vancouver Park Board to sand down to the original hardwood, paint new lines and varnish the court. The walls were painted inside and outside the gym, two additional hoops were installed and all six backboard are now glass. Plus, all the rims can adjust to the height of the players, who begin as young as four years old in the Strathcona community basketball league, and older kids can safely dunk. Additionally, the NBA provided 40 new basketballs.
In 2015, the LA Clippers faced the Raptors on October 4, 2015, and NBA Canada refurbished the basketball court at the Kimount Boys and Girls Club at East 6th Ave in Vancouver. In an event that featured stars Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, local youth had the opportunity to take part in a basketball clinic on their newly reopened gymnasium floor.
In 2016, the Raptors were back in Vancouver to face the Golden State Warriors on October 1, 2016. In the week leading up to the game, NBA Hall of Famer James Worthy and the Toronto Raptors organization helped to unveil a newly refurbished basketball court at Thunderbird Community Centre as part of the NBA Canada Series with NBA Cares.
Most recently, in 2018, the NBA Canada Series was back in Vancouver with the Raptors facing the Trailblazers on September 29, 2018. In honour of Steve Nash’s recent induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, NBA Canada refurbished the outdoor basketball court at the Pacific National Exhibition and renamed it – ‘The Nash Family Court’. This outdoor basketball court was designed to honour Nash’s career achievements and is located at the venue where he won his Provincial Basketball Championships as a local youth player.
WE THE NORTH – WITH OR WITHOUT THE RAPTORS
In 2019, the first two American team NBA Canada Series will take place with the LA Clippers taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Rogers Arena on October 17, 2019. Without the Toronto Raptors, the NBA will surely see success in Vancouver with the star power of Clippers recent acquisition, Kawhi Leonard (2019 NBA Champion and NBA Finals MVP with the Toronto Raptors) and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Dončić.
The 2019 NBA Canada Series presented by Bell will feature fan events, NBA legend appearances and an NBA Cares program in Vancouver. In addition to presenting partner Bell, supporting partners include Miller Genuine Draft, Nike and Tangerine.
NBA Canada Managing Director Dan MacKenzie: "Following an historic NBA season in Canada, we're thrilled to return to Vancouver for the 2019/20 preseason. We're proud to partner with Bell to bring another tremendous match-up to Canadian basketball fans, and special thanks to the Clippers and the Mavericks for joining us at Rogers Arena this fall."
Thank you to NBA Canada and partners for always putting community first, and for continuing to improve the basketball experience for the youth in our local community. You’re always welcome in Vancouver!
Recap of Legacies Shared:
- 2014 – Kings vs Raptors (Oct 5, 2014) Strathcona Community Centre Gymnasium receives $65,000 refurbishment - https://www.vancourier.com/sports/basketball-nba-pumps-up-strathcona-1.1411923
- 2015 – Clippers vs Raptors (Oct 4, 2015) – Kimount Boys and Girls Club receives court refurbishment - https://www.nba.com/raptors/video/teams/raptors/2015/10/04/1443919296444-nba-web-151003-feat.mp4-40158
- 2016 – Warriors vs Raptors (Oct 1, 2016) Thunderbird Community Centre Court receives Refurbishment - https://www.nba.com/raptors/video/teams/raptors/2016/09/30/1475197458537-nba-web-160929-nbacaresfeature-813642
- 2018 – Trailblazers vs Raptors (Sept 29, 2018) Court receives Refurbishment: named The Nash Family Court @ the PNE - https://globalnews.ca/video/4501206/nash-family-court-opens-at-pne