Before Lebron and Durant, there was Kobe Bryant. Before that there was Michael Jordan. Prior to MJ, it was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird…and so on.
Over the years, the torch is passed on from generation to generation, while each legacy is acknowledged and celebrated.
For Canadian basketball, it is important that hoops enthusiasts today are aware of the past, and the rich history of individuals that contributed in a major way to the development of the game in this country.
As a result, Team Canada alumni Dave Turcotte (1982-95) and Howard Kelsey (1977-88) have spearheaded the Canadian National Basketball Team Alumni Association (CNBTA) to connect former and current players, coaches, referees, managers that have contributed to the growth of the game over the years.
“The biggest emphasis is to save the history of our sport, the people we’ve played with and everything that connected us to our tradition,” explained Turcotte, a native of Sudbury, Ontario and former Colorado State star.
A large part of the CNBTA’s vision is to both preserve and enrich Canada’s basketball culture in efforts to support the national program’s goal of becoming a perennial podium contender internationally.
“We want to see our country prosper and do well,” Turcotte told North Pole Hoops.
Another goal for the CNBTA is to serve as a resource for the upcoming student-athletes, as men and women that have been through the same journey at the highest levels.
“We want to connect all that tradition, experience and ability to support these young people. We love our sport, we love this country…period,” continued Turcotte.
Howard Kelsey, an 11-year veteran with the national team, hopes to help educate people through the CNBTA on the rich tradition existing in the world of Canadian basketball.
“We are basically a hockey nation and less people care about the history of sport in our country unless it is hockey-oriented…but that is now changing–slowly,” said Kelsey.
“It is unacceptable that our CDN Hockey Hall of Fame is a majestic shrine in downtown Toronto (and we are not comparing hockey popularity with basketball) but our Canada Basketball Hall of Fame is basically an unknown entity.”
“Dr. Naismith and Coach Donohue (rest in peace) would roll over in their graves if they saw how little prestige our HOF still lacks.”
Before Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson and the rest of this new era, who laid down the foundation?
North Pole Hoops Trailblazers will feature a series of individuals that have paved the way for a flourishing scene, including, but not limited to the following:
Canadian Basketball Building Blocks
- Norm Gloag: First Basketball Canada President. Served for decades.
- Harr Frankiln Sr. (First Executive Director of CB: Hired Jack Donohue).
- Jack Donohue (First full-time CB Coach, CB Builder) . Legendary HOF coach.
- Steve Konchalski: Jack Donohue Assistant and SMNT Head Coach. Coaches at St FX University for four decades and secrves Basketball Canada / Canada Basketball since the early 1970’s.
- John Bitove (Founder, Toronto Raptors)
- Arthur Griffiths (Founder, Vancouver Grizzlies)
- The Pariseau Family (Owners: Brewster Packers: Three-time AAU Senior Men’s US National Champions: Over 15 CB Olympic alumni played for BHP)
- Ken Shields (U Vic Dynasty, CB Coach and Builder). Legendary HOF Coach and visionary U Vic Athletic Director.
- Michael Clarkson (Founder: ‘The Canadian Scouting Report’)
- Dave Smart: Carleton University.
- Ruby Richman
- Art Rutledge Team Builder: Maintained numerous SMNT National Team players in the 1990’s
- Harry Liiv (Team Builder: Estonia (Ontario) : Maintained numerous SMNT players in the 1980’s )