Sometimes the constant hockey-hype in our country makes us forget just how Canadian basketball is. I mean, we did invent it. For decades the sport has lived in the shadows of its icy counterpart, that is, until the Toronto Raptors became NBA champions, practically turning an entire generation into ballers overnight. Despite its homebrewed roots, the NBA has never been overflowing with Canadian basketball players, a fact that could now be changing.
According to Sportsnet, the NBA’s 2020 opening-night rosters will include a whopping 16 Canadians, breaking the record for most players from a non-U.S. country. So, who are these northern pioneers? RJ Barrett, Ignas Brazdeikis, Mifondu Kabengele, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are all set to join a new class of Canadian rookies who will dive into the NBA in the 2019-2020 season and re-paint the sport red and white.
Forbes also reported that several Canadian veterans would also be returning this season. Jamal Murray, who is coming off an excellent season with the Nuggets, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Andrew Wiggins, and Kelly Olynyk are also expected to hit the court this year.
The growing roster of Canadian players sits within a group of 108 international opening-day players from 38 countries. According to the Globe and Mail, the countries with the next highest roster of NBA players outside the U.S. are Australia, 9, France, 8, Croatia, 7 and Serbia with six players.
In celebration of the news, NBA Canada released a heartwarming video on what basketball means to the country.
What does Canada mean to basketball? 🇨🇦 https://t.co/DO6IRlmJTm— NBA Canada (@NBA Canada) 1571701170.0
The video touches on the history of the sport before listing a long history of Canadian achievements in the sport. If you’re a diehard basketball fan, you might want to grab a tissue box.
Work before work. #WeTheNorth https://t.co/oU0OrLcrKv— Toronto Raptors (@Toronto Raptors) 1571761980.0
Canadian basketball still has a long way to go. After all, we still only have one team in the entire league. However, thanks to the momentum behind the Raptors this year is bound to be different in terms of the countries interest.