Please set aside the obvious knee-jerk reaction — Moving a team from the heartland of basketball to a foreign country? That must be where Gary Bettman got the idea! — since Vancouver returning to pro basketball has been something of a blog obsession.
There likely is nothing to this particular rumour (keep in mind, bloggers have "horrible instincts," according to Jason Whitlock). The point is talk of Vancouver returning to the NBA is probably bound to pop up with increasing regularity, so don't take the easy way out (but we're the snark generation! It's alls we know!) and be dismissive. Several NBA teams struggling and the city has a rising profile and an arena suitable for pro basketball.
Basketball is also pretty big in the province; it probably has the best high school championship in Canada in terms of competitiveness and fan interest outside of the participating teams.
The timing and the tide might be a lot more right than it was in the mid-1990s, when the late and lamented Vancouver Grizzlies were sort of a throw-in along with the Toronto Raptors. Steve Nash's success has also underscored a critical point: The way to stimulate interest in a sport is to have athletes with whom fans see a connection with on the floor. People in Germany might pay more attention to the NBA because their countryman Dirk Nowitzki is starring in the league (hey, what if the Grizzlies had drafted him in 1998?), not because the Sacramento Kings played an exhibition there or something.
Getting back to the point with Vancouver, as someone said 18 months ago:
"... it's not that far-fetched to think Vancouver could accommodate the NBA. The city's profile with Americans is improving and will increase exponentially after the 2010 Olympics. The management team of a future NBA franchise would also learn from mistakes and make sure the players get to know the city better and are put more at ease in a foreign environment. Too often during the Grizzles' run, there were instances of players voicing displeasure with the city, which alienated potential ticket buyers, since everyone knows Vancouver is the greatest city in the world (in fact, that's what everyone in Rome, London and Sydney says too, really)." — Oct. 27, 2007Anyway, please don't dismiss it out of hand. It is undeniable the national TV ratings for the NBA playoffs have been neglible in Canada. However, pro basketball fandom in Canada is similar to the NHL's following in the U.S. — it's great in the cities where the league operates but you get crickets everywhere else. (And as you know, judging the Raptors on TV ratings is a poor metric.)
You never know. Canada Basketball could certain use another pro team in the country (not to mention a WNBA franchise) to raise the game's corporate profile. The national body is actually soliciting donations on its website to help raise money for young players to go to FIBA tournaments.
Aquilini to bring Indiana Pacers to Vancouver? (Andrew Bucholtz, Sporting Madness)