Manitoba

Toronto Raptors inspire young basketball players in Winnipeg

Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers open the NBA Eastern Conference final Tuesday night.

Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers open the NBA Eastern Conference final Tuesday night

Charles Carlos has been coaching basketball in Winnipeg for around 20 years and says the sport is growing. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

Basketball has never been bigger in Canada, and Winnipeg coach Charles Carlos thinks the Toronto Raptors have something to do with it.

The Raptors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers to open the NBA Eastern Conference final Tuesday night, and Carlos said he plans to have the whole family watching.

"I was picking Miami to win, but now that they beat Miami, it's quite interesting," Carlos said while shooting hoops Tuesday afternoon. "If they make it to the finals I think everybody is going to have their back."

Carlos has been coaching basketball in Winnipeg for around 20 years and said he has seen the growing Raptor fandom inspire the kids on the courts.

"A lot of kids dream of playing in the NBA and possibly just moving to Toronto and you maybe have a chance," he said.

Thane Carlos, 11, and his brother Magnus, 8, were shooting hoops to get ready to watch the Raptors face the Cavaliers Tuesday night. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)
Magnus Carlos, 8, was preparing to watch the game by practicing his own shots with his brother Thane, 11. He said it's really great to have a Canadian team make it so far.

"I want them to make it to the finals and play my other favourite team OKC [Oklahoma City Thunder]. That would be a good match I think," he said.

Game 1 takes place Tuesday in Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. CT.