I for one, like the idea of the Toronto Raptors being Canada’s only NBA team. If the country gets a second one, it would kind of make the whole “We The North” a little less special.
But this viral tweet got me thinking…
The idea of the Los Angeles Lakers packing things up and playing in Lethbridge, Alberta is therapeutic for me.
So, thanks to some inspiration from @imstefanvasilev on Twitter, I went to the drawing board.
What if Canada were to get another team?
This is a little bit more difficult than I thought.
Canada is considerably smaller than the United States in terms of population. Canada’s ninth largest city, Hamilton, has virtually the same population as the NBA’s smallest market team – the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That’s not to say the NBA wouldn’t consider going somewhere smaller, as the Thunder have clearly shown it’s worked. I am more so pointing out that Canada just doesn’t have many places to choose from.
From the way I see it, there are three solid options with maybe one dark horse.
I feel like this has to be high up on the list for anyone thinking of putting another team up north.
Montreal is the second largest city in Canada with a population of just about 4.5 million. They have an NBA calibre stadium and would easily keep up with the NBA lifestyle.
A lot of people would argue that they don’t think there is a big enough “basketball following” in Montreal…
I think Khem Birch and Chris Boucher would beg to differ.
To top it all off, imagine the rivalry the Toronto Raptors would have against a team in Montreal – it’s a Canadian sportswriters dream.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Did Vancouver already get their shot?
Yes, yes they did.
But I am not holding any grudges over the fact that the Grizzlies only lasted six years in B.C. before moving to Memphis, I just pretend it never happened.
I do think the placement of an NBA team in Vancouver was a little too early – they landed there before Toronto did all the groundwork and made basketball cool in Canada.
Similar to Montreal, Vancouver has a stadium that hosts an NHL team, so in theory they would have a place to play.
They are number three on the list of Canada’s biggest cities and are one of the most visited places in the country.
The city has come a long way since they played their last game, they deserve a second chance.
Another team in Toronto eh… New York does it, so why can’t we?
On paper, we could definitely do it – the two teams wouldn’t even have to share a home arena, as long as the Toronto B team is fine with playing in the Coca-Cola Coliseum.
The idea has been toyed with in the NHL – every few years someone brings up the idea of a second hockey team in Toronto, so to think another basketball team could end up here isn’t absurd.
But I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, two NBA teams in the 6 has all the makings to be another Los Angeles Clippers disaster franchise.
The Dark Horse
As you can see, I have kept the options pretty tight. Winnipeg is a hockey town, and even the hockey players don’t like paying there so there’s no chance an NBA team would last.
I chose to exclude the whole province of Alberta for pretty much the same reason I excluded Winnipeg.
We can’t do Regina unless we just make the Saskatchewan Roughriders play basketball, so that’s out of the question.
So that leaves me with one, semi realistic option.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Like I said, this is a dark horse…. a really, really dark one. Metaphorically speaking, Halifax is an awesome place to visit… or live.
Population wise, Halifax is a no-no. With under 400 thousand people living there, this would be the definition of a small market team.
The only reason why I think this would work is that if you put an NBA team in the Maritimes you’ll have four provinces behind the whole team.
Fans from New Brunswick, P.E.I. and even Newfoundland would flock to Nova Scotia to see a pro sports team, it doesn’t even have to be basketball.
I’ve lived on the East Coast, so believe me when I say that if you give a Maritimer a reason to drive somewhere, they’ll do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 16 hour drive, you’ll see them there.
Halifax would be the hardest place to play in the league with the passion of the Maritimes behind them, they might just be a little too small a market to take a chance.
But let’s be real
With the Las Vegas Golden Knights and now the Seattle Kraken, the NHL is pretty much rolling out the red carpet for the NBA to follow them with teams of their own.
A new team in Canada would be much more of a project and way more of an uncertainty than going to one of the two American cities mentioned above.
Will there be another team up North?
Most likely, I just don’t think anytime soon.