This November, the National Basketball League of Canada begins its eighth season. There are ten teams in this league – four in Ontario, five in the Maritimes, and one in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve worked as their Director of Statistics and Player Clearances since Day 1, and it’s been a great part of my life.
Last year, the NBL achieved many goals – goals which, maybe in the NBL’s first years, might not have been possible. But with the acquisition of quality talent, and with solid ownership and dedicated fans, the NBL has moved forward and achieved much.
Let me share some examples.
- Last year, Duke Mondy of the Cape Breton Highlanders became the first NBL Canada player to be signed in mid-season to a team in the NBA’s development league, when he joined the Texas Legends.
- Last year, NBL Canada veteran Omari Johnson became the first player with NBL Canada playing experience to sign with AND PLAY FOR an NBA team, when he appeared in four games for the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Last year, after two prior losses to the NBA’s D-League teams, the NBL”s London Lightning defeated the NBA’s development league team, Raptors 905, in an exhibition game. Doesn’t matter about the first two losses … it’s all about the one win. 😀
- Prior to this season, the Moncton Magic embarked on a three-game exhibition tour of China, our league’s first exhibition series endeavour outside of North America. (Yes, I spelled endeavour with an extra U, this is a Canadian league so I’m using Canadian English, eh?)
- This year, Joel Friesen-Latty – the first player to participate on three consecutive NBL Canada championship teams – represented Canada in qualification for the FIBA Tournament of the Americas. He became the third NBL Canada player to participate in the FIBA tournament, joining Grandy Glaze and Robert Nortmann (Nortmann represented the Bahamas in the FIBA tournament).
- This year, two former NBL Canada stars – scorer Logan Stutz and defensive specialist Cavell Johnson – become only the second and third players, respectively, to graduate to the head coaching ranks. Johnson will skipper the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans, while Stutz will control the pace in Sudbury.
And on a personal note, as a proud Albany resident and dedicated fan of the Albany Patroons, I always note when an NBL Canada team has acquired an Albany player or coach for its squads. In seven seasons, the NBL has had two former Patroons as head coaches (Micheal Ray Richardson and David Magley), and two former players (Marvin Phillips, Gabe Freeman) on their rosters.
Now those were players from the Patroons’ first iteration (1982-1993) and second iteration (2005-2009) of existence.
This year… the NBL’s training camps include an Albany Patroon from last year’s top squad, as Rookie of the Year and playmaker Xavier Moon signed a contract with the London Lightning.
How freakin’ awesome is that?
I mean, it’s only fair – the Patroons last year had two former players from the NBL’s Windsor Express on their roster – DeAndre Thomas and Stefan Bonneau. So there’s a nice, nice flow going here.
The NBL Canada’s eighth season – also known with the hashtag #RaiseTheBar – begins on November 15, as the Halifax Hurricanes – who finished last year with the best regular season record and their third consecutive NBL Canada finals appearance – take on the Moncton Magic
Also this season, a new squad joins the league -the Sudbury Five. And if they have any gumption in them, they need to have this playing in the arena on the team’s first home date.
Besides … if the NBL Canada’s coming back for its eighth season… it’s certainly time to bring back the beloved NBL Canada Cool Stat of the Week, don’tcha think???
Yeah, I think. 😀