A new Canadian game

The London Lightning have won the first two National Basketball League of Canada titles. // Photo by Andrew Forbes

The London Lightning have won the first two National Basketball League of Canada titles. // Photo by Andrew Forbes

Indeed, lightning does strike twice. It certainly did for Londoners on April 12 in Summerside, P.E.I. when the London Lightning beat the Summerside Storm 87-80 in a comeback effort.

But that’s not new. That happened almost a week ago.

So why am I writing about it? 

Getting my hands on the NBL of Canada championship trophy. // Photo by Kelsey Moody

Getting my hands on the NBL of Canada championship trophy. // Photo by Kelsey Moody

Well, for the second straight year the Lightning have won the National Basketball League of Canada championship. Oh, and the league has only been in existence for those two years.

More importantly, this time around London decided to recognize the efforts of the city’s professional basketball team.

So are we as a city ready to take this team – this league – seriously? I know I am.

The NBL of Canada is attempting to grow the sport north of the border. They are promoting home-grown athletes – requiring each franchise to have a minimum number of Canadian players on the team.

And with the emergence of Canadians in this year’s NCAA tournament it makes it all the more important for the game to flourish in Canada.

Part of developing the league within the country is to recognize the teams that do exist. Only then will the league be seen as legitimate and draw a fan base that will allow for the league to expand.

On Tuesday, the Lightning held a celebration at their stomping grounds – Budweiser Gardens – inviting the public for a trophy presentation and autograph session with the team.

London Lightning's Tim Ellis and me. // Photo by Kelsey Moody

London Lightning’s Tim Ellis and me. // Photo by Kelsey Moody

It was encouraging to see the numbers that did attend – buying merchandise, interacting with players, coaches and even the team’s owner.

What’s nice about the NBL of Canada is that although the players are recognized for their basketball talent, they are put on a level of interaction with fans.

In my opinion, that’s what will keep the average fan interested – the community that the players bring to the dressing room and the court. The team makes an effort to get involved and as was said in the trophy presentation on Tuesday, the league and the Lightning look for “good men” that can play the game as well.

It will be important for cities that do have teams to encourage fans to support the team. That will be the gateway to success for the NBL of Canada. And so far they’ve done well in promoting the league.

The 2013-2014 season will see a new team emerge in Ottawa – which means there is more opportunity for basketball fans and players to enjoy the game in Canada – an important step in the right direction. It also means there is one more opponent for the Lightning to surpass next season.

But as DeAnthony Bowden told me on Tuesday: “Coach is making all these predictions, so we have to go out there next year and back it up.”

The London Lightning take to the stage in front of their fans. // Photo by Andrew Forbes

The London Lightning take to the stage in front of their fans. // Photo by Andrew Forbes

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2 Responses to A new Canadian game

  1. Makes for a great story! Go Lightning!

    • Thank you Harrison – it’s a great league that I personally hope continues to grow. But as is the case with any sports franchise or league, the fans and communities will play a huge roll. Hope you continue to read on. All the best.

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