It’s been 18 years since the Canucks have had competition in Vancouver for a sports team in one of the major four leagues in North America, but in a recent interview with CBC, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has high hopes for that to change.
The Vancouver Grizzlies only existed for six seasons before their move to Memphis, but with the recent success of basketball in Canada, the league might revisit the idea of having a franchise in this city.
“In retrospect, I wish we had a team in Vancouver right now. I think that we do have regret — we were a bit ahead of our time,” Silver said.
There has been a slow surge of interest in basketball all over the country, due largely to the success of the Toronto Raptors. From being considered a joke franchise around the league, to now having one of the best basketball player on the planet and having a shot at winning a championship, the franchise has grown the sport in this country immensely.
Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and RJ Barrett are just three examples of young superstars in the NBA that are all from the Toronto area. If Vancouver were given a franchise, perhaps there could be the same level of grassroots mentality to spread the interest in the sport.
As of now, Canada has the second-highest amount of players in the NBA behind the United States. A total of 41 players are Canadian, while the next-highest of non-American players are 28 from France.
To have a second franchise in the country, especially in a city like Vancouver, could bring that number up even higher and progress Canadian basketball to new heights.
The only thing the Vancouver franchise would have to do is not repeat any of the same mistakes, or suffer the same losses the Grizzlies did.
“There was a moment in the league where prospects seemed down in terms of the team,” Silver said. “Attendance was down, ratings were down, so I understood from an economic standpoint why the team owner wanted to move the team.”
For the city to get another major franchise, it could have the same international effect the Raptors have had on Toronto. Making it a destination and not just a novelty to have a franchise in a foreign city.
Similar to the NHL, the NBA is rumoured to be pondering on expansion or relocation to Seattle as well. This would greatly effect any possibility of Vancouver getting a franchise of its own.
Whether the league views a Vancouver/Seattle connection attractive or views it at two hypothetical franchises too close to one another, this could go one way or the other. But as Brian Windhorst of ESPN speculates, Seattle isn’t coming anytime soon, and neither is Vancouver.
One problem is where the NBA is currently.
“Unfortunately we’re not in expansion mode right now,” Silver said. “But sure, over time, given the development of the sport in Canada, there’s no doubt that at some point we’ll look to see whether there’s an opportunity to put a second team in the country. Based on what we’re seeing now in terms of the interest that we could sustain it in Canada.”
Silver sees the opportunity that could be right in front of him in Vancouver, but the only thing that is needed right now is patience.
Basketball in Canada is still growing and evolving to places deemed impossible just several years ago, so is a new franchise in Vancouver simply a matter of time or have they lost their chance?
To have arguably the biggest sport in the world right now in Vancouver is an enticing idea.