Nick Nurse seems to be a big believer in Vancouver basketball.
Nurse, the Toronto Raptors coach, said Friday that he thinks another go-round would be much more successful than the initial edition of the Vancouver Grizzlies, who survived for six seasons before relocating to Memphis in 2001.
“I wasn’t really that in touch with it when Vancouver was here the first time, right?” Nurse told media after a scrimmage game in front of a sell-out crowd in Victoria, British Columbia.
“But I think that the growth of the game in Canada, I really think it would certainly probably work a lot better now just because of the general growth of basketball and the general support the whole country seems to give basketball now.”
The Toronto-based team is in training camp in Victoria through October 1.
They will also play preseason games in Edmonton and Montreal as part of the NBA Canada Series. The Raptors will face the Utah Jazz at Rogers Place in Edmonton on October 2, and the Boston Celtics at Bell Centre in Montreal on October 14.
The Grizzlies were established in 1995 alongside the Raptors as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada. They finished last in the Midwest Division in five of its six seasons, and never qualified for the playoffs. In total, the franchise won 101 games and lost 359 contests.
Low attendance and the struggling Canadian dollar contributed to their departure.
Some 20 years later, Nurse sees first-hand the opportunity for a second Canadian team thanks to the support the Raptors receive outside of the Toronto area.
“It’s a great thing the organization has decided to do, to move around the country, and we get repaid very well with the great support,” Nurse said. “It’s something special to have a whole country behind you, as you all know.
“It’s nice to see it in person again.”