There are tell-tale signs in a country with a majority continental climate that summer has, or has just about, come to a close. A nip in the air most mornings, foliage flickering through a beautiful array of fall tones, people wearing jean jackets again, and of course, a renewed frenzy and ramped up pride around the Toronto Raptors and their imminent season.
Since 2012, NBA Canada, in tandem with the NBA, have tapped into that excitement and actively sought to broaden it by hosting the NBA Canada Series — official, pre-season games held outside of the league’s lone market of Toronto. Previous match-ups have featured franchises like the Clippers, Bulls, Knicks, and Nuggets in cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, and the Grizzlies’ former home of Vancouver. The series was put on pause in 2019 due to the COVID pandemic, but is set to make its return this fall with two games presented by Bell.
On Oct. 2, the Raptors will take on the Jazz in Edmonton, a first for Utah as a team featured in the series and for the city as a host for an NBA game. On Oct. 14, the Raptors will face the Celtics in Montreal, a second-time appearance for the recent Eastern Conference in the city and hometown of the Raptors own Chris Boucher, who hasn’t played there since the preseason of Toronto’s title winning season in 2019.
“It’s so good to once again be able to play in front of our fans across Canada,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said of the Canada Series’ 10-year anniversary and return. “We’re looking forward to returning to Montreal, and to playing at Rogers Place in Edmonton for the first time. It’s a fantastic reminder, as we begin a new season, that we are Canada’s team, and we look forward to making Raptors fans proud, no matter where they are cheering from.”
Of the Jazz’s inaugural appearance in the series, Utah general manager Justin Zanik echoed those sentiments. “We’re excited to be featured in the preseason NBA Canada Series,” he said. “It is a unique opportunity for our organization to engage with the league’s Canadian fans in Edmonton. Our players and staff are looking forward to it.”
Canada, oft touted as a kind of tacked on extension of the U.S. market, has a rich history in and rapidly growing fanbase for basketball. The rise of exciting, Canadian stars in the NBA like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, and Dillon Brooks — not to mention the Raptors rostering three Canadian players including Toronto-born Dalano Banton — has created a renewed awareness for Canadians of a flourishing Canadian identity in the league. On and off court the stylistic nuances of Canadian players, aided by the volume of talented players being drafted into the NBA each season and expansion of national leagues like the CEBL, has underscored not only that the culture of basketball in Canada is thriving, but that a budding regionality is taking shape. The return of the NBA Canada Series underscores the necessity and value in treating Canada not as a far-flung outpost, but a compelling and completely unique country of basketball, symbiotic in the league’s goal to take the game global.
Fans can register for presale ticket access at NBA.com/CanadaSeries, tickets for both games will go on sale through Ticket Master August 19.