Masai Ujiri is undoubtedly one of the best NBA executives and a guy who brought success in every franchise he's been involved with on the management level. Throughout the years, he showed he could build successful teams, and the Toronto Raptors are the perfect example of the knowledge Ujiri possesses when making moves either in the free agency or through the draft. The Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian team in the NBA, and you could see the surge in popularity of the sport, especially after the Raptors won a championship.
In a recent interview, Masai talked about the popularity of Canada's sport, predominantly known as a country inclined for ice-hockey. Still, the shift towards basketball is long underway. One of the things Ujiri mentioned that was crucial in the popularisation of basketball in Canada was the presence of Vince Carter when he played for the Raptors back in the day. Carter spent the majority of his prime years in Toronto, leading the Raptors to several playoff apperances. On top of that, he was one of the most popular players in the league back in the day, and his impact among the kids growing up watching him and the Raptors was tremendous.
Well, guess what? There were so many kids that were inspired by Vince Carter and what he did and what he brought to the Raptors. You see, so many of them have come out now and become players, whether it's the Jamal Murray's, SGA's, Chris Boucher's of the world. All these people were kids inspired by Vince, Tracy McGrady, all those guys.
Ujiri also talked about the importance of the Raptors championship run in 2019 and how the teams' success inspired kids that were watching. That will result in many young kids getting interested in basketball and therefore produce more talented Canadian players in the near future, which is also good for the NBA and further growth of the league.
So think about it, think about the number of kids starting to play basketball now that have been inspired by Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Pascal, and the 2019 championship team. By winning the championship, which is the biggest achievement in the game. Think about the parade and how many people came out. How many kids are going to come out of this era to play basketball? I'm just telling you that in 10 years, 8 years, in how many years, there's going to be lots and lots of great basketball players coming out of this program, and they're going to be Canadian, they are going to be immigrants, and they're going to be people that lived and grown over here, and loved the game from watching that championship team.
There are currently 16 players in the NBA from Canada, which is the most out of any foreign country. That proves how basketball is slowly but surely becoming one of the most popular sports in this country. We can definitely expect more great Canadian players will come into the league in the next 5 to 10 years. That is also a great example of how the NBA is becoming an internationalized product and helping grow the game outside US borders. Vince Carter and then later the Raptors' success had a big part in that success, and as Ujiri mentioned, that is only the beginning.