Seven years ago, I joined up with a brand new professional basketball league. I provided stats and other duties for this nascent hoops circuit, and I haven’t looked back since.
And that’s a good thing.
This Saturday, the National Basketball League of Canada commences its seventh season with a league-high ten teams – four in Ontario, five in the Maritimes, and a new franchise in Newfoundland.
This will be fun.
For me, the NBL Canada is my time to participate in the ins and outs of a professional sports league. I oversee player signings and releases and trades; I monitor games and scores; I work with statistics and points and the nuts and bolts of things.
For me, this is excitement. And it’s not really “work” when you enjoy what you do.
Maybe it’s because I’m a stat rat at heart. This is from the same kid who used to write down the entries every week on American Top 40 and chart the rises and falls of my favorite songs. Yeah, it’s the same guy who used to calculate how many yards per carry Barry Foster needed to break the Pittsburgh Steelers record for most 100-yard games in a single season. That kind of stuff.
And of course, being an Albany native, I always want to see if there are any teams in the NBL who have Albany-centric talent on the roster – possibly a former member of the Albany Patroons as a player or coach (Gabe Freeman, who played for the Pats in 2008-09, is now with the new Moncton Magic team).
Or possibly a former college star with UAlbany or Siena or Saint Rose – and Scotty McRae, who used to drain those hoops for UAlbany back in the day, is currently in the Windsor (Ont.) Express training camp with a good chance to make the team.
Listen – the NBL is getting stronger with every season. This year, the NBL’s London Lightning – fresh off a 35-5 regular season last year en route to an NBL championship – defeated Raptors 905, a Gatorade League (previously NBA D-League) team in an exhibition “friendly” contest. That’s the first time an NBL Canada team took a win over a D-League / Gatorade League squad.
And the league is receiving notice in international hoops as well. Earlier this year, three players made the roster of Canada’s FIBA international team, and this year Windsor’s Robert Nortmann has been named to participate for his home country (the Bahamas) in this year’s FIBA International tournament. That’s big news.
And it’s only going to get better as the years and seasons progress.
I’m glad to be part of this organization. And this Saturday, with a triple-header on the docket, I’m truly going to have my hoops itch scratched. We get the Island Storm traveling to Newfoundland to take on the St. John’s Edge, while later that day the defending NBL Canada champion London Lightning host the Niagara River Lions, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans hook up with the Windsor Express.
Oh yeah. And I have to remember – there’s now a team in St. John’s. That’s different than the team in Saint John. Saint John, New Brunswick is not St. John’s, Newfoundland. The Riptide play in Saint John, the Edge plays in St. John’s. I can handle this. Heck, I remember when the American Hockey League had a Saint John Flames and a St. John’s Maple Leafs in the same season. And if Canadians can handle sports leagues where there are two teams named Roughriders, then certainly I can handle a St. John’s and a Saint John. Simple, right?
Bring it on, guys. I’m ready. Hoop it up.