The Current

Time is 'ripe' for big businesses to get behind Canadian basketball: Men's national team GM

Two million fans are expected to show up to the Raptors' victory parade in downtown Toronto Monday morning. That kind of interest should lead to corporate sponsorship that can be used to grow the game, according to leading figures in the sport.

Basketball has everything a big-name sponsor could want, says Rowan Barrett

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy during Raptors victory parade celebration in Toronto on Monday. Two million people are expected to line the route of the victory parade. (Moe Doiron/Reuters)

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Corporations looking for sponsorship opportunities should be sitting up and taking note of the Toronto Raptors' win, according to a leading figure in Canadian basketball.

"This situation is ripe for sponsors to jump in, to support and grow our game — more games, more camps, more programs," said Rowan Barrett, a former pro basketball player and the general manager of Canada's senior men's national basketball team.

"Seven million Canadians tuning in, right? Half the country watching some part of that finals game," said Barrett, whose son, R.J. Barrett, is one of the top projected picks for this year's NBA draft on Thursday.

"If you want diversity, it's in this sport. If you want to find newcomers, it's in this sport," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"If you want to find wholesome programming that's good for families, with great role models, it's in this sport. It's all here."

The Raptors won the NBA championship Thursday night when they defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in a nail-biting game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Up to two million fans are expected to line the route of a victory parade in Toronto Monday.

Even before the win, interest in the game was increasing, said Mark Poyser, a teacher and basketball coach at John English Middle School in Toronto.

"I noticed that enrolment is going up, where we're turning away kids because we don't have gym space," he said.

Poyser said he was at a charity golf tournament the day after the Raptors won, where he met a lot of business people who don't "normally follow the Raptors."

They asked him what their businesses could do to continue the team's success.

"I straight up said that we need guys like you guys to put some money into more courts, to put some money into some of those facilities," he told Tremonti.

"We travel from Toronto with our kids in vans, to go to some of these facilities in the U.S., where kids have the opportunity because there's like 10 courts under one roof," he said.

"We don't have that here."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Mary-Catherine McIntosh, Max Paris, Donya Ziaee and Julianne Hazlewood.


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