Mat MacDonald AKA The Rook The Rook is currently enrolled in Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. A frequent contributor to all NBA and Raptors debates along with other sports. Witty, quick and never afraid of a challenge, Mat’s here to talk hoops with you and dish out his two cents whenever!
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Basketball leagues have grown in most European countries throughout the world over the past 20 years for various reasons. Whether theyʼre hosting top talent or not paying the bills, European leagues have been considered the little brother to the NBA, North Americaʼs prized child. While the playing circumstances arenʼt always ideal, and at times can actually prove to be better than some NBA franchises, Europe has become an intriguing destination for a lot of professional basketball players in hopes of keeping their basketball dream alive for another season.
For NBA players faced with the tough situation of potentially not making millions of dollars this upcoming season, Europe has become the flooded destination.
And thatʼs exactly it:
Theyʼve gone to play the game they grew up loving.
Remember when we were young, immature and full of dreams that one day we
could hopefully be on the same stage as the MJʼs, Dominiqueʼs, Russellʼs and Magicʼs?
Remember when racing home from school to play the game we loved was more
important than anything else in the world? In a society thatʼs been absolutely consumed by money and politics, Canadaʼs opened the doors to the basketball world again in hopes of developing that love and passion for the game at a grassroots level, again.
The name of the organization?
Scattered across the Eastern side of Canada, the National Basketball League of
Canada (NBL) will serve as a basketball showcase for some of the best talent in North America. Halifax, Moncton, P.E.I., Quebec, St. John, Oshawa and London will all host franchises in the inaugural season which starts at the end of October.
What a lot of people have failed to realize about this new opportunity is that this
is exactly what it is, a new opportunity. Basketball has been ruled in North America by the NBA and failed leagues. Whether it be the ABAʼs financial issues or the travel issues in the PBL, thereʼs never been any sort of structure thatʼs given Canada an opportunity to host not only top Canadian talent, but world talent to their fan base. Until now.
NBL commissioner and Halifax Rainmen owner, Andre Livingston, has put the
pedal to the floor since stepping through the doors of the Rainmen organization years back. His goal: To prove that basketball can not only survive in Canada, but that it can be played at the highest of levels.
With the inaugural draft being held last week at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, 21 Canadian and American hopefuls were given a chance to join one of these seven
basketball teams and continue their basketball careers and pursue their dreams of being a professional athlete.
A lot of people were skeptical about this league and the franchises involved with
it. Would it be a stable league? Would it be competitive? Is there any point in putting a league like this in Canada? Isnʼt this just a waste of time?
These were all questions brought up continually over the past few months. Of course, the league wonʼt be supplying the high salaries thatʼs put the NBA into a labor dispute, and no, they wonʼt be showcasing LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but what it will be doing is opening the doors to a lot of local basketball communities to try and push kids in hopes that they too can one day become a professional athlete and play in their home town.
The growth of basketball in Canada over the past five years has been outstanding. From AAU teams heading south and dominating huge American tournaments, to Canadian talent being drafted high in the NBA draft, Canada has taken a positive step forward in solidifying themselves as a basketball hot spot. Opening more doors and giving more opportunities to athletes to play at a professional level right across the border from the United States is only another step in the right direction.
With solid business groups backing each franchise, the league will now look to the product on the floor to market just how good the league can be. Within years players will no longer have to resort to traveling overseas to Europe for other basketball options, but instead can cross the border and play closer to home.
In no way will the NBL ever trump the NBA. It will forever be viewed as an alternative destination for professional basketball players, but with the backing that the country has already shown and the excitement building for the opening tip, one can only imagine that the future is more than bright for the league and the growth of basketball in Canada.