VANCOUVER,BC–The rumours suggest that the NBA could be returning to Vancouver.
Not only is this great for Van-City, it is also great as Canadian basketball is beginning to emerge with young stars like Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson and Myck Kabongo playing College ball south of the border.
While some might wonder why the NBA would go back to a city that lost a franchise after only five seasons, the Vancouver Grizzlies situation was not so cut and dry.
Then general manager, Stu Jackson made several poor drafting choices, worst of which was drafting Steve Francis after Francis publicly declared he would not play in Vancouver. There were also a few signings like that of Bryan Reeves that never panned out for the Grizzlies.
Vancouver (and Toronto for that matter,) was also not helped by the NBA in their expansion season. The two Canadian teams flipped a coin to determine which franchise would receive the higher draft pick, as the 6th overall pick was all the NBA would give to the winner.
Looking back, the Grizzlies were never given optimal conditions to succeed, and their play on the court only worsened their case.
However, a decade has passed and things have changed. There are rumors that Vancouver Canucks’ (yes that’s hockey for all you basketball fans) chairman Francesco Aquilini, whose family owns the Canucks, is looking into purchasing the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA.
The Hornets are in bad shape as no prospective buyers have put an offer on the table to the NBA. Fans in New Orleans have definitely taken to their team and star player Chris Paul, but without responsible ownership, the NBA cannot afford to babysit the franchise.
NBA commissioner David Stern spoke to ESPN saying, “We’ve had visits from, believe it or not, Vancouver, where the Canucks are absolutely doing a spectacular job.”
Stern seems impressed with the job Aquilini has done with the Canucks, and is possibly thinking of bringing a team back to the Pacific Northwest. Without a team in Seattle either, the prospect of Vancouver and the surrounding area (creeping east into Alberta and south into Washington State) supporting the team is looking good.
In addition, instead of an expansion draft, Vancouver would instead inherit quality NBA talent like David West, Omeka Okafor, and even Chris Paul if he decides to stay with the Hornets.
Although still a few years down the road, the idea of a second, (and this time responsible) team in Canada is intriguing. As the sport continues to thrive in this nation, thoughts of resurfacing a Canuck rivalry between Vancouver and Toronto would only ignite and catapult Canadian basketball to yet another level.
Will Vancouver get their team back? Time will tell.
Photo Courtesy: NBA.com