Bonjour NBA Finals

Eastern Conference Final 2019

Eastern Conference Final 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of The year for basketball fans.

The anticipation and excitement from preseason, all 82 regular season games, and the three first rounds of the playoffs all led up to this moment, the NBA Finals. Something is quite particular about this year’s edition of the championship round though, especially for Canadians. They’ve patiently waited for a year to see who will be the two team to battle it out in the Finals, just like any other NBA fan, but they’ve waited 25 years for a team of their own to make it this far. That moment has finally come to fruition as the Toronto Raptors set to face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals on May 30th, 2019. Everyone from the “North”, mostly Quebecers, are to be excited too, having one of their own in Chris Boucher representing them as well. Boucher will be one of the few Canadians ever in the NBA Finals and only the first one from Quebec since Joel Anthony back in 2014 after winning two consecutive titles with the Miami Heat. With that said, what does this mean for Canada and Quebec basketball?

Vince Carter & Tracy McGrady in 2001

Vince Carter & Tracy McGrady in 2001

This is the first time in NBA history that an international team is in the finals. With the NBA striving to become more of a global brand in recent years, this is a feat that they’re certainly happy about. Some may remember that two teams were established in Canada as part of an expansion. The Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies both entered the association in 1995. The criticism around Canada was made known by players at the time because they didn’t know much about the country and most refused to cross north of the border to play for either team. With poor team success, attendance, and the Canadian dollar being weak at the time caused the Grizzlies many financial issues which eventually got them relocated to Memphis after six seasons. That was a bad look for Canada. The Raptors were just as bad. All they had going for them was one regular season win over Michael Jordan and the 72-10 Chicago Bulls in 1996. That was until NBA stars like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady pretty much saved the Raptors struggles. It’s been well documented how Vinsanity put Toronto and Canada basketball on the map with the help of Chris Bosh, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry later down the line and now Kawhi Leonard. Basketball was still new at the time, but there’s no doubt that Canada isn’t just known for hockey nowadays. This is the best time to be a basketball fan in our country. What’s important to point out is that the NBA has noticed. They’ve often hosted the NBA Canada Series which has garnered a lot of interest from the public, especially when it touches down in Montreal. The NBA has been hosting events throughout multiple cities like the NBA Crossover, for example, which had MTL excited to meet legends such as Gary Payton and Mo Pete. They’ve helped renovate parks and youth facilities. They’ve implemented the Jr. NBA which spreads across all provinces which notably will feature Quebec teams for both the boys and girls finals. NBA players do their part as well in giving back to communities here. Danny Green will be hosting a basketball camp this summer in Montreal, something Orlando Magic Center and Montreal native Khem Birch has been doing annually. Recently, Chris Boucher announced the start of his AAU program CB Elite. There’s clearly a shift going on and we’re all witnessing it.

Chris Boucher at NBA Canada Series in Montreal in 2018

Chris Boucher at NBA Canada Series in Montreal in 2018

People are watching more than ever and it’s only a matter of time before the NBA will consider expanding to Vancouver once again and Montreal. The Raptors are representing a whole country so, why not let the country have a louder voice. There are players like Chris Boucher who are inspiring kids with their stories and rise to the NBA. Coming from Montreal, having a rough upbringing, dealing with severe injuries to becoming a NBA G-League MVP, Defensive Player of the Year with the Raptors 905, and signing a contract with the Raptors. Players like Jamal Murray, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk can’t be forgotten either. The Toronto Raptors finally had a breakthrough this year and it’s time for the rest of Canada to have one too.