NBA: Relocation or expansion, Vancouver deserves a second chance

NBA Vancouver Grizzlies Sydney Lowe Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
NBA Vancouver Grizzlies Sydney Lowe Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport /

Whether it’s via relocation or expansion, the city of Vancouver deserves a second chance in the NBA

Canada does not seem to be a hockey country as much lately. We saw the Toronto Raptors just win the NBA Finals in impressive fashion but now we have realized that not just Toronto but the whole Great White North is bonkers for basketball.

Commissioner Adam Silver has stated previous interest in a second Canadian team and now he has all the evidence he needs. So it is only fair to bring hoops back to the West Coast of Canada, Vancouver, B.C.

The citizens of Vancouver are no strangers to the NBA. Back in 1995, a gallon of gas was $1.15, Gangsta’s Paradise was the number one song in the world and Canada was given a two NBA team. The two teams, the Toronto Raptors, and the Vancouver Grizzlies served as the David Stern’s Canadian expansion project.

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While the Raptors remain today, the Grizzles were down in Memphis in only six seasons. After the 1998 lockout, attendance started to plummet and owners Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment were losing cash due to a weak Canadian dollar. Businessman, Michael Heisley bought the team and shipped them to Memphis the very next year.

There were lots of factors on why a first run did not in Vancouver. The two Canadian teams were restricted from received top 5 draft picks for their first three seasons. Expansion teams are usually made up of young undeveloped talent and aging veterans past their prime. Without top picks, the team was immediately hampered with bad teams and without a very bright future. With an uncommitted owner ready to move anywhere else, the Vancouverites were left for dead.

Hope would come in form of a trial preseason game between the Raptors and the nearby Portland Trail Blazers. The game turned out to be a big success with a jam-packed house and electric atmosphere.

According to Sportsnet 650 radio host Adam Forsythe, reports have come out as far as last year that the Blazers would actually be running a G-League team in Vancouver. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, would give fans a ray of hope in a CBC interview (via The Daily Hive).

"“In retrospect, I wish we had a team in Vancouver right now. I think Canada could handle two NBA teams,” said Silver. “I share David’s sentiment that we do have regret. I think we were a bit ahead of our time. There was a moment in the league where prospects seemed down in terms of the team. Attendance was down, ratings were down. I understood from an economic standpoint why the then-team owner (Michael Heisley) wanted to move the team.”"

Silver, who is big on expanding the NBA on a more global level, said the NBA is not in expansion mode at the moment but that “it would be nice to have a team in Vancouver.” Silver is probably right with the theory that moved to Vancouver too quickly but the timing is better than ever. The NBA, internationally, is more popular than it was in 1995.

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The power of social media has provided content to cultures spanning across the globe and while a 31st franchise isn’t an ideal situation, I believe that if the NBA wants to capitalize on a sure thing, then the second shot in Vancouver would be a match made in heaven. Just do not call them the Mounties; they actually got mad!