The community's basketball future has become brighter thanks to the Portage la Prairie School Division.
With the landscape of the sports world diversifying in Canada, the Portage la Prairie School Division took note. Oakville School, Yellowquill School, Portage Collegiate Institute, and École Arthur Meighen have all received upgrades to their outdoor courts over the past year as basketball popularity in the community has skyrocketed.
How did we get here? We could start in 1891 when James Naismith, a Canadian, created the sport in Springfield, Massachusetts. However, more is needed to paint the right picture. Canada lacked basketball entertainment for a whole century, leading to a stall in the sport's growth for young athletes. Not genuinely getting a chance to grow the game until 1995, when the NBA expanded and brought in the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. At first, things went differently than planned with the NBA in Canada. Pathetic player development, ownership negligence and a struggling Canadian dollar eventually forced Vancouver to say goodbye to their team after just seven years in the 2001-02 season. Toronto became Canada's last chance to make the NBA work. The Raptors could have been destined for the same fate as the Grizzlies if not for one Vince Carter, credited for igniting the country's original wave of basketball fandom and perhaps saving a mediocre franchise, at least until that point.
Fast forward to 2019, those same fans who fell in love with Carter's electrifying game got to taste the feeling of being an NBA championship in Canada, of all places. Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, and the rest of the 2018-19 Raptors team brought Canada its first professional sports title since 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens lifted Lord Stanley's Cup. That 2019 Larry O'Brien trophy meant more to the country than just a banner in the rafters at the Air Canada Centre and a Drake-designed championship ring. It lit a fire for a new generation of athletes in Canada to pursue basketball.
Walking the streets of Portage or any city in the Canadian market today, you can see more and more adults and children wearing NBA attire, signalling a new era for Canadian athletics. This was most recently highlighted by Canada winning a Bronze Medal at the FIBA World Cup this past summer.
On this day 3 years ago, the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship— Raptors HUB (@HubRaptors) June 13, 2022
- First non USA team to win NBA Championship
- First team in NBA History to win NBA Title with no lottery picks on the roster
- 2nd best Defensive Rating in NBA History
-Stopped Warriors from 3-peat pic.twitter.com/N3sv0oJMbp
New hoops, asphalt and painted lines at these schools signals that Portage and Area is undoubtedly supporting this new generation of athletics in Canada and the community, perhaps paving the way for the area's first player to touch an NBA court.
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