The Raptors will be heading to Vancouver as part of their pre-season tour to rub salt in the wounds of any Grizzly supporters that still remain. They’ll face the Kings on October 5 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, followed by the Knicks on October 24 at Montreal’s Bell Centre. The last time the Raptors went to Vancouver they drew 18,000+ in a rout of the Suns in October 2010. They also drew 22,000+ twice in 2010 and 2012 in Montreal against the Knicks.
The games are part of the NBA Canada series, whose primary goal is to bring basketball to fans elsewhere in Canada, perform community outreach initiatives, and also to sell more jerseys and stuff. The Raptors look to be “Canada’s team” for the foreseeable future even though there are pockets around the country that despise the team for their association with Toronto and would rather cheer for the Timberwolves (I have this on good account).
This is an excellent initiative by the Raptors to speed up the inevitable: basketball being the #1 sport in the country in 20 years. Let’s face it, hockey’s too expensive to play for most people and there’s ton of immigration and what-not happening, and the cost of playing basketball (or soccer) is negligible compared to hockey. I predict that by the time I die a natural death in the arms of my loved one with Yani playing in the background, Hockey Night in Canada will be reduced to a Tuesday evening timeslot.