Great week for the NBA & Montreal
It’s been an eventful week in Montreal with the NBA coming to town and giving fans a great basketball experience with the Raptors preseason game, NBA Crossover, special appearances by NBA legends and more!
Firstly, NBA Crossover finally came to Montreal last weekend! In combining basketball, music, fashion, art and tech, the NBA could say it was a success. NBA hall of famer Gary Payton was in attendance along with former Raptors Morris Peterson and Jerome Williams. Along with a live Q&A session in front of the fans at the free event, they were generous in taking time for pictures and singing autographs. Arcade games, NBA 2K19, pop-a-shot and other games and activities were available as well. Apartment 200, the host for the event, put on a fun party to cap off the night.
Basketball fans really showed they love and appreciation for the game all week, something Payton, Peterson and Willams felt instantly as they got to spend time in MTL. And every time basketball rolls around the city, the question seems to be raised about a potential NBA team in La Belle Province. Morris Peterson, who has traveled a lot throughout Canada, “absolutely” thinks Montreal should get a squad. Mo Pete added, “Every time I come to Montreal, I get a lot of love and it’s amazing. [You all] love basketball here, [you] really do and it’s good to see that but [you have] to speak it into existence”. Gary Payton for his part recognizes the interest Montreal has for hoops, but made to let people know that “it’s hard”. “Yes, you deserve [a team], all of you are fans, but it’s a business too. We can’t just give you a team. It has to work out for the NBA, it has to work for [everyone]”, he added. The Glove touched on how not only does an expansion have to work for the NBA economically, but for other teams as well due to travel. Also, the NBA “can’t have 40, 50 teams”, so a lot of things have to fall in place. Jerome Williams had his opinion to share on the topic and hinted at a possible solution to help with the necessary funds to bring a new team. “The Raptors just signed one of the largest, exclusive arena deals in the history of sports. [There] was a bank, not going to mention their name, but there’s a bank of a city that was a huge Raptor sponsor. So, what I’m saying to you is, maybe you guys as fans can coerce that group to be your [bank] for a team. […] I know they got a bag!”, the Junk Yard Dog said. He was alluding to Scotiabank’s recent deal with the Toronto Raptors and how the Bank of Montreal could be essential in bringing a team. Nonetheless, everyone seems to be on the same page. However, it’s a matter of time and a lot of preparation to make it happen.
Players this week wanted to make their imprint on the basketball community this week and the community has a lot to be thankful for. For that matter, Gary Payton and Jerome Williams stopped by Sun Youth Organization on Thanksgiving, to help out with the annual food drive and meet young fans. They didn’t stop there! JYD was out in schools playing basketball to some of the kids in partnership with the NBA Canada Series and NBA Fit. GP on the other end helped in rebuilding and revealing the new basketball court at Parc Jean-Marie-Lamonde.
Raptors Serge Ibaka came through at Fabuleux chez Serge on Tuesday to talk and meet the fans as well. The Congolese pleased the fans when doing his live Q&A in French and showing love to the community in Montreal. He made sure to show his appreciation to the loyal Raptors and basketball fans in one of his rare visits to Montreal.
If that wasn’t enough, the Raptors put on a show at the Bell Center in their preseason matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. The fans got the see newly acquired Kawhi Leonard who got MVP chants every time he was at the free throw line. He finished with 11pts, 7reb, 7ast and 4stl. The most memorable moment of the night though, came later on in the 4th quarter when Montreal native Chris Boucher checked in the game at the 7-minute mark to a standing ovation. It was Boucher’s first game in Montreal. Just to make his homecoming even sweeter, he drained two 3’s in the last 2 minutes of action. With his friends and family in attendance, it was a great seeing everyone embracing their one of their own. If that wasn’t enough, Boucher signed a two-way contract with the Raptors on Friday.
A lot happened this past week, but there seems to be an obvious love for the game in Montreal and the NBA is sure to have taken notice. Moments like these don’t happen often, but the city made the most of it. It’s only a matter of time before the league expands here for good. In the meantime, Montreal will impatiently wait for next year's events. Merci NBA!