What the Raptors championship means for basketball in Edmonton
Published Friday, June 14, 2019 9:12PM MDT
Basketball players and fans in Edmonton are hoping the Toronto Raptors' first-ever NBA title helps grow the sport in the city.
A few thousand of the 7.7 million Canadians that watched the Raptors defeat the Golden State Warriors Thursday night gathered at the Edmonton EXPO Centre with the local basketball team, the Edmonton Stingers.
The Stingers, which are part of the new Canadian Elite Basketball League, are OK with the Raptors being known as "Canada's team," but players hope the excitement generated by the championship brings more fans to their games at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.
"They play for the whole country, and to have different cities all through Canada, it means a lot, like the sport is growing, and to have people coming and support, it means a lot," Stingers Guard Adika Peter-McNeilly told CTV News Edmonton.
A boom of Canadian talent has entered the NBA in recent years with guys like Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but the hope is that this Raptors run inspires a new generation of kids to play basketball.
"People are going to see a real surge in interest in people wanting to learn how to play," Alberta Basketball Association Executive Director Paul Sir said. "You're going to see a new crop of kids, no matter what sport it is, they'll want to go to work hard and to achieve those goals."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson