I have recently had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with filmmaker Kat Jayme. She is the writer/director/star of “Finding Big Country”, now on Prime and a selection from the 2018 Vancouver Internal Film Festival. Here’s a taste:
Her movie on Bryant “Big Country” Reeves has inspired basketball fans all over the province of BC and beyond to stand up and say “Hey, I want the NBA back to Vancouver as well!” She’s the reason I bought this domain and got to work on what I do best…building websites.
Her work on this film has made her the defacto “Grizzlies Superfan,” right to the point of meeting the legend himself…Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia!
This was filmed by NBA TV Canada. They heard Kat. They can hear us, all of us, if we unite. They know fans want a team in Vancouver. We all need to continue to be heard, continue to share our stories of the team, and one day I’ll see you all at the arena with a basketball jersey emblazoned with VANCOUVER across the chest.
To make that happen we need to:
Use #NBAVancouver when we post about anything basketball related on social media.
Share this website until it’s heard because it will tell your stories, our stories, about our love for the game.
Sign the petition below to put our names on what we want.
Subscribe to this site so that when something new goes up it is shared with the world.
This is VanCity B-ball Boy talking to you. I am one man putting his money where his heart is by buying and building this site. I can’t do this on my own the same as you can’t do this on your own, the same as Kat–Superfan that she is–can’t do this on her own, but we can all do this together.
My friends call me by another name, but you can call me VanCity B-ball Boy. I have been watching basketball since around 1988 when MJ23 set the whole world on fire and showed everyone what it meant to fly. What it meant to have a goal and drive towards it…that goal being the hoop and a nasty slam on everyone who tried to stop him.
Watching MJ23, Scottie, and the rest of the Bulls win a championship when they were my team was special…but not quite as special as it should have been. Not as special as when my local (I grew up in Ontario) Blue Jays won the World Series back-to-back and I literally jumped for joy. Something was missing. Something that would have me singing about it decades later.
That thing, of course, was that they weren’t really my team. They repped Chicago, a different city in a different country.
Then in 1995 the Raptors came.
Then this past year the Raptors became the NBA Champions.
I flew from my home in Vancouver to Toronto for the parade, tattooed the trophy and the Raptor on my leg, and spent over $3000 in total on the Raptors.
Basketball made my life worth living when I was a depressed child and couldn’t afford to play hockey but found friends on b-ball courts all over, and it really hit me deeply when my home team came into the league and I could watch them and say that they were mine.
I now want everyone in Vancouver–my adopted home I have spent 6 years in and came back to after travelling the world because I knew where my heart was and is–to feel that same elation I felt as Kyle Lowry rode by me holding the trophy on those big red buses and I screamed “SPICY P!” as hard as I could at Pascal Siakam and he turned to thump his chest and point at me in the crowd.
Vancouver deserves these moments with a sport that’s more accessible to the poor, more global and multi-cultural than most, and able to be played anywhere by anyone at any time.
Do your part by sharing this website on social media, and clicking the button below to add your name to the petition to bring the NBA to Vancouver.
The NBA deserves a city like Vancouver whose first four seasons all saw higher attendance averages than six teams this past season in today’s modern NBA of higher attendance and skyrocketing TV viewership.
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:
Hawks (16, 042)
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:
Salt Lake City, Utah (1,160,900)
Memphis, Tennessee (1,159,99)
New Orleans, Louisiana (1,270,00)
Charlotte, North Carolina (2,054,000)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1,575,700)
Indianapolis, Indiana (2,048,00)
San Antonio, Texas (2,500,960)
Orlando, Florida (1,632,700)
Sacramento, California (2,089,000)
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:
David Thomson and family ($39.5 billion)
Joseph Tsai ($13.8 billion)
Tobi Lutke ($9.0 billion)
Galen Weston and family ($8.3 billion)
David Cheriton ($6.8 billion)
Huang Chulong ($6.2 billion)
James Irving ($6.1 billion)
Chip Wilson ($5.5 billion)
Jim Pattison ($5.4 billion)
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:
Amazon (under construction)
Lions Gate Entertainment
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:
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! 😉
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:
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.
Dr. James Naismith is a Canadian hero. He invented this game we love and the man deserves more recognition than what he gets. One of our own invented this game, and the fact that we’re relegated to one team in the world’s biggest basketball league is…well, I’d rank it as a worst injustice against our sporting heritage than Cooperstown, NY being the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The first recorded baseball game was played in Beachville, Ontario. America took that from us, and they’re taking another game from us by continuing to keep us out of the NBA.
**Takes a deep breath**
The other fun in this is Reeves straight up embarrassing fools with dunk after dunk.
Share this on social media with your pals and let me know what they think in the replies below!
This is the first in a series where you–the NBA fan in Vancouver, or abroad who loves VanCity–can vent your feelings on what having a team back in Vancouver would mean to you.
Me? VanCity B-Ball Boy? My real name is Matthew Yeoman. I’ve been watching basketball since I saw MJ23 do this:
Basketball has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember. That means that, back in 1988 when there were no Canadian teams and MJ23 was doing stuff like you see above, I was a Bulls fan. Let me tell you; being a Bulls fan back then was GOOD.
Then the 1995 expansion came along and I was, as you can guess…a Raptors fan. Sorry, I grew up in Ontario and repped by boys ride or die style…once MJ23 retired. I split my fandom during the early years. Sue me.
Once MJ23 was off the Bulls (for good, the second retirement and three-peat) I only had my Raptors. That turned out well, with a bit of patience.
Yes, I flew from Vancouver to Toronto for that parade and Championship weekend. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget that connection to a city I called home. I’ll never forget the connections I felt to the people there and the warmth and conversations we all shared so easily during those days.
I want that ‘never forget’ feeling for my adopted home of Vancouver more than anything. Yes, I know that hockey is the Canadian sport. It wasn’t for me. I grew up a poor farm boy who had a hoop in the yard and a basketball next to the door all summer. Not everyone can afford all that hockey gear, and not every Canadian athlete is cut out for hockey…or the random brain damage that comes with it.
I want an NBA team in Vancouver so that the people of this city can enjoy a more inclusive game. A game we can play outside during our sunniest of summer days, where anyone can walk up and put up shots with us, and one day a whole generation of young fans become players. Maybe, just maybe, a young fan that was homeless at 16 can go on to represent Canada…
If one, only one, more young man finds his way like Chris Boucher has through NBA basketball being back in Vancouver, all of my work bringing a team back here with Kat and the gang will be well, well worth it.
Join me by contacting me now to add your story to this site. Say what you want, how you want, in the way you want. Contact me below right now.
I grew up a country boy, so I couldn’t help but have some affinity for Bryant Reeves. I get him. I understood him then as a player, and I understand him now as a middle-aged man working his farm because he likes it. Here’s a pic of him on his farm with my pal Kat from her movie Finding Big Country:
The part of him getting his haircut twice a week? All y’all players these days wish you were this fresh. Man was gettin’ faded while y’all were young and jaded getting that cut yo momma wanted on ya.
“Aerodynamics, man, it’s all in the aerodynamics.”
There was no point to this ad besides “Hey, look at this big goofy white guy, and see how he cuts it up on the court. Watch it on TNT and TBS!” Commercials for the NBA now are way slicker, with cutting edge graphics and fancy transitions…I just don’t see them with this much heart or honesty anymore.
What has been your favourite NBA commercial? If it’s related to the Grizzlies, let me know and I’ll post it up…eventually. I have a backlog and a real job…
In celebration of the Memphis Grizzlies donning the Vancouver Grizzlies throwbacks in honour of the 25th anniversary of a franchise they stole from the citizens of Vancouver, I’ve decided to have some fun with “Imagine If” scenarios.
Some of these will be players that the Grizzlies could’ve drafted but chose to draft someone else that year, two players that would’ve thrived in Vancouver with its heavy Asian influence, and a couple of professional goofs who are also good ole local Vancouver boys! Let’s get into it!
Imagine if Linsanity and the Ming Dynasty came to Vancouver
With Vancouver’s large Asian population, Linsanity would’ve hit Vancouver harder than anywhere else in North America. Here’s Jeremy Lin just off Carrall Street in Vancouver’s huge Chinatown area!
No single player in the history of the NBA has had a bigger impact on basketball in China than Yao Ming. Having him suit up in the teal would’ve been a true delight for those here in Vancouver regardless of their background, as well as those in China who frequently come to visit family here anyway! Here he is depicted with his hometown of Shanghai bridging the Vancouver Waterfront.
Neither of these players was around for the teal jersey uniform era, but I’m certain they would’ve gotten to wear a retro at one point as this year’s Memphis Grizzlies will!
Imagine if the Vancouver Grizzlies drafted…
If there was one thing which defined the Grizzlies, it was all of the missed opportunities that came via poor scouting and subsequent drafting. Let’s go through year by year at who they could’ve drafted, and mention who they did draft that year instead.
In the 1995 draft, the Vancouver Grizzlies were restricted from drafting in the top 5, a savage move by the NBA. That was the year the Grizz drafted Bryant Reeves, a very promising centre at the time, but they could have drafted Kevin Garnett who went one position ahead of Bryant. A true champion, here he is thumping his chest over False Creek with downtown and the North Shore mountains in the background. We would’ve loved ya, Big Ticket!
1996’s NBA draft was one of the best drafts in league history, and the Grizzlies were again kept from drafting high. They drafted Shareef Abdur-Rahim that year, and I’m not gonna say much bad about him as I have his jersey, but he wasn’t the Mamba. Kobe Bryant went 13th overall when Vancouver had the 3rd pick. He was a champion who could’ve brought a trophy to Hollywood North.
Kept from the first overall pick when they were statisically likely to get it, the Grizzlies missed out on what of the all-time greats in 1996, who could’ve been The Answer to the franchise’s terribl performances. Allen Iverson in teal just looks good…
The 1996 NBA draft was full of great players, many passed up on true stars, but the fact that the Grizzlies passed on local BC boy Steve Nash is likely the greatest theft that was ever taken from Vancouver. Drafted 15th overall, so many were wrong about his potential as he;s a 2-time MVP and Hall of Famer. Let’s have a beer again some time, Steve!
The 1998 NBA draft was held in Vancouver, and what an event it would’ve been if, instead of drafting Mike Bibby at #2 they had taken Air Canada. Would Vince still have been nicknamed Air Canada in Vancouver, or would he have been WestJet? Not drafting Vince was a cold move when he clearly had so much potential.
Any one of these players would’ve instantly transformed the Grizzlies franchise. I say time and again that Vince himself changed the course of the Toronto Raptors and made their iconic purple dinosaur jerseys, well, iconic. That level of player in Vancouver was exactly what was needed, but their just wasn’t the front office there to pick out talent like this.
BONUS: Imagine if MJ23 became prez of the Grizz instead of the Wiz!
No player has impacted the game like Michael Jeffrey Jordan. None. Lebron has had his moments, but no one has had the cultural impact and iconography of MJ23. After his retirement form the Bulls, Michael went on to be the president of a struggling franchise; the Washington Wizards. After some time in the front office he stepped down and onto the court once more with the Wizards.
What if, and this is a big what if, he had that comeback flow after becoming prez of the struggling Grizzlies…
It’s a pretty photo, at least. Yes, he’s wearing the Air Jordan 17, just as he did with the Wizards.
Imagine if the Vancouver Grizzlies…like…let movie stars play
Two good ole boys from Vancouver, who proudly rep the West everywhere they go, were just too fun to not include! Vancouver’s famously Vancouver-loving Ryan Reynolds, along with the Merc with a Mouth, are here in front of Ryan’s high school. Deadpool is reminding everyone that there are no Grizzlies in Memphis…not anymore, at least!
In a city rich with comedians and actors, there’s on one I follow like I follow Seth Rogen. He is Vancouver through and through, often seen walking the streets and seawall of the city that made him who he is today. Here he is looking rather freaked out that he’s guarding Michael Jordan in front of the Granville Island entrance…
I’ve got to admit tht I had way too much fun putting this together. I’m not a pro, I don’t create photoshop images for anything but fun, but man it was fun to make these “Imagine If” scenarios come to an amateurish life.
Watch out for Memphis wearing the retros this year:
Dates they’ll be wearing them include:
Who do you wish was a Grizzlies player? Comment below and I might make them if I’m bored and add them here!
Have an hour and 24 minutes? Here’s a full game gem from 1997 when MJ23 was everything in the NBA, and no one thought that the Grizzlies were going anywhere. Also, imagine being in Vancouver watching this game with Jordan and Pippen right there in front of you.
Some interesting stats from the game include:
Big Country scores 18 points
Shareef scores 24
MJ23 scores 28
Scottie puts in 24
Perhaps one of my favourite things about this game is that Robert Parish is playing off the bench for the Bulls, he is 43 and in his last of 21 seasons. Vince Carter is entering his 22nd season as I type this, breaking Robert’s record! Air Canadaaaaaaa
Stat lines are fun, but on the court you can see some fun action:
Toni Kukoc dunks. Yes.
Ron Harper get a couple good dunks in during the first quarter
Shareef gets up the and throws down a few good ones
43 year old Robert Parish dunks, must watch
This was not a good year for the Grizz–ok, none were–but his Airness is in full flight. I won’t spoil who wins or the score, enjoy the game and see the full stats below!
The support was absolutely overwhelming. Kat, we did it. Jaymo, we did it. Everyone else in that coffee shop on Broadway last month, we did it.
Want to hear how we did it?
Turn it up, because that was music to our ears. Encore, encore, from the nosebleeds to courtside we were heard:
With all the press coverage, Kat on Global News live in studio (see below!), and media showing real interest in this message, these chants mean ten times more. This is the sound of the people, not the press, and all 17,000+ of us that were there, telling the world directly what we want.
Speaking of Kat on the news :
What a ride, and we’re just starting. The next few weeks will be quiet on the NBA to Vancouver front, but do not worry. There are plans coming up for an away rally and to help rebuild a dilapidated basketball court in downtown Vancouver!
Be sure to subscribe and know right away!
Ok, one last bonus piece of two awesome people and a photo-bombing B-ball Boy eating a pork bun and not realizing the person taking the photo was taking it for The National Post…
This film, by Finding Big Country’s Kat Jayme, looks at the stories of four Vancouver Grizzlies fans who share a story of hundreds, maybe thousands, of still-rabid basketball fans in Vancouver who want their team back.
Who we meet in the film are:
Tony: Played ball with his big bro and lost something of his relationship when he lost the team.
Michelle: Came to Canada from Shanghai and found comfort and community in basketball, and lost it when she lost her team.
Christine: A lifelong collector of Grizzlies gear who says she never was the same after her team left.
Dan: A fan from Victoria who’d take the ferry over to watch his team, and was so put off by them leaving he never forget and wrote a song about his team leaving. You may know him as Transit22!
We get to see Tony work on controlling his emotions as basketball and family collide into what sport is supposed to be.
We see Christina and her father connect as we see sport for what it is supposed to be.
We see Michelle share letters sent back to China mixed with her love of the game as we see sport for what it is supposed to be.
We see Dan make a career out of his enduring passion and we see sport for what it is supposed to be.
I’m often reminded of Tata Madiba, Nelson Mandela you call him here, and what he taught me during my years in South Africa:
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” Nelson Mandela
This is what we see in this film. This is what I see for Vancouver with a team once more as avenues for those in despair, youth without a voice, and those who need opportunities to unite across racial barriers get this through one of the world’s most global games.
As always, thank you Tata for showing us a better way to see the world.
If you’re coming to boo him: get over it. He wanted to go home. I respect any person who just wants to go home. He didn’t have to do a damn thing for Toronto and Canada, but he played his hardest and won us a championship. If you’re going to boo, find something else to do. This game is about love.
Let’s make sure that the scene we make is a positive one. You never know what the future may hold, or how other NBA superstars will perceive us if we act like pricks. Lastly, we need to represent Vancouver as a positive basketball atmosphere. Show love.
NBA Champion Danny Green was in Vancouver not too long ago giving Raptors fans a chance to meet a member of the NBA Championship winning Toronto Raptors. Fans lined up for hours to see the star, with many either wearing Vancouver Grizzlies gear or Toronto Raptors gear.
Danny was asked about all the Grizzlies jerseys he saw and if Vancouver should have a team:
“I do. I do believe so. Vancouver is a wonderful city that’s really nice. A great fan base. Probably better than some other cities than we have in the states.” Danny Green
Danny was on a tour with his kids basketball camp. This program helps kids learn valuable skills through basketball. There is no doubt that an NBA team would bring this to Vancouver, giving back directly to the community.