NBA Expansion: Is Vancouver Ready?

I spend too much time on the Internet and, because of course that happens, I get asked a lot of …inane… questions. The question which inspired this post, in light of NBA expansion talk, was: “Is Vancouver ready for it though, didn’t work out the first time.”

Let me say this loudly for those in the back:

The Grizzlies leaving Vancouver was ownership’s fault, not Vancouver’s.

Vancouver loved NBA basketball, and this article will look at the reasons why we can have a team in Vancouver during the next NBA expansion.

NBA Expansion: Attendance averages

Our attendance was consistently high. To look at the numbers (meaning I’ll ignore how well we did in our first year with a 17,183 average attendance), I’ll go with the 1998/99 season, the one from before we found out the team was leaving and the lockout year. Our average attendance in 1998/99 was 16,718.

Looking at the most recent normal year, 2019/20 season, our average attendance number in 1998/99 was higher than the following teams:

  1. Wizards (16,468)
  2. Pacers (16,531)
  3. Pelicans (16,505)
  4. Nets (16,403)
  5. Hawks (16, 042)
  6. Memphis (15,857)
  7. Suns (15,732)
  8. Pistons (15,438)
  9. Hornets (15,438)
  10. Timberwolves (15,066)

What everyone should be asking is if those 10 cities are ready for a team right now, they have some quality players on those teams. I would love to be able to watch that Piston team in a brand new arena with D-Rose, Blake, and Drummond! What did Detroit do? I dunno, but it didn’t involve going to basketball games.

Also, every team above had a winning percentage of .230 or higher. Vancouver? We showed up and supported our team even though we had a .160 winning percentage in the 1998/99 season!

NBA Expansion: Growth of Vancouver

The population of metro Vancouver in 1995 when we got the team was 1.7 million.

Vancouver’s metro population today? 2.6 million

You need context? That’s larger than the metro area of the following NBA cities:

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah (1,160,900)
  2. Memphis, Tennessee (1,159,99)
  3. New Orleans, Louisiana (1,270,00)
  4. Charlotte, North Carolina (2,054,000)
  5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1,575,700)
  6. Indianapolis, Indiana (2,048,00)
  7. San Antonio, Texas (2,500,960)
  8. Orlando, Florida (1,632,700)
  9. Sacramento, California (2,089,000)
  10. Cleveland, Ohio (2,137,000)

Vancouver has a larger metro area population than all of those current NBA cities. All of them. You wanna talk about NBA expansion? How about Vancouver’s expansion? We’ve grown huge. How many rallies will it take? We’re ready.

These populations don’t even include the link that Vancouver has to Asian countries. With 39.7% of metro Vancouver’s population identifying as Chinese, South Asian, or Filipino, the NBA has a much bigger opportunity beyond the confines of Vancouver to attract fans abroad via family connections, family visits, and proximity.

NBA Expansion: Money.

The going fee for an NBA franchise right now, according to rumour, is $2.5 billion. That is…lots of money. More than I have, at least.

Vancouver, on the other hand, has become vastly wealthier as local businesspeople have created incredible companies. Vancouver’s current billionaire list includes over 40 people, here are the top 10:

  1. David Thomson and family ($39.5 billion)
  2. Joseph Tsai ($13.8 billion)
  3. Tobi Lutke ($9.0 billion)
  4. Galen Weston and family ($8.3 billion)
  5. David Cheriton ($6.8 billion)
  6. Huang Chulong ($6.2 billion)
  7. James Irving ($6.1 billion)
  8. Chip Wilson ($5.5 billion)
  9. Jim Pattison ($5.4 billion)
  10. Mark Scheinberg ($4.9 billion)

Not only do we have billionaire bucks, we have vast corporate growth. We all know that they like to schmooze investors, sales prospects, and employees with tickets to games and box seats. My last job gave myself, my partner, and 6 employees box seats to a Canucks game back in March of 2019 and it was great for employee moral and relationship building.

Here’s a look at major companies with headquarters in Vancouver:

  • Microsoft
  • EA Sports
  • Telus
  • Lululemon
  • Goldcorp
  • Amazon (under construction)
  • Lenovo
  • Hootsuite
  • Best Buy
  • Lions Gate Entertainment
  • Canaccord Genuity

There are at least 5 companies above that you know. They all have major offices here in Vancouver and they all want somewhere to take clients and buy box seats, and not all of them like hockey…

NBA Expansion: Little known fact

You may not know this, but current commisioner of the NBA–Adam Silver– knows Vancouver very well…

…Adam Silver has family who live here in Vancouver!

This isn’t some weird conspiracy theory or anything. He said this in an interview with the CBC’s The National in this video’s full version, but I can only locate this short clip:

This is not the full clip so he doesn’t say it. Contact me if you have the full clip.

Anyway, Adam Silver’s sister-in-law lives here in Vancouver with her husband:

  • Adam Silver is married to Maggie Grise.
  • Maggie Grise has a sister–Maureen Grise.
  • Maureen Grise is married to Tom Cavanagh–he is a Canadian actor living in Vancouver to film The Flash and various movie projects.

In the original clip Adam states that he visits Vancouver to see his family regularly. Put a team here that you can watch when you’re here, Adam. Tom, if you love this league so much bug your brother-in-law to put a team here until he relents! 😉

Heyyyyy, little brother-in-law.

NBA expansion in Canada

The growth of the game in Canada in undeniable. The largest number of players not born in the USA belongs to Canada this year. Here’s a list of current Canadian NBA players:

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  2. R.J. Barrett
  3. Khem Birch
  4. Chris Boucher
  5. Ignas Brazdeikis
  6. Dillon Brooks
  7. Brandon Clarke
  8. Nate Darling
  9. Luguentz Dort
  10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  11. Cory Joseph
  12. Mfiondu Kabengele
  13. Trey Lyles
  14. Karim Mane
  15. Mychal Mulder
  16. Jamal Murray
  17. Kelly Olynyk
  18. Dwight Powell
  19. Tristan Thompson
  20. Andrew Wiggins

20 players in the NBA–more than any country not named the USA–and y’all are wondering if Canada is ready for more basketball? For real? Big love to Jamal Murray and the Kitchener Shuffle.

Raptors winning championship

Did you see that parade? I did, because I flew from Vancouver to Toronto and spent the weekend partying on the streets of the city I once called home with my brother. Here’s a photo I took that glorious day, my brother is in the front right.

Canada loves basketball. You have to see it right there in that photo above.

What’s more, a Canadian invented basketball. This is our game, and the world’s best basketball league needs to further integrate itself with our country and make things right with the city it did wrong.

We Want Grizzlies. Press play below and hear us. Vancouver deserves an NBA team.

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