To date, only 17 Canadian basketball players have laced up their sneakers to play in the National Basketball Association and one in the old school American Basketball Association. You may recognize some names such as Nash, Magloire, MacCulloch, Wennington and Fox. But others players such as Crevier, Granger, Hansen etc have repped the country in the big league. Here, exclusively from BBM, is the complete up-to-date list of Canadians and their influence on the NBA and Canadian hoops.
It was 35 years ago that Boston Celtics legendary coach and GM Red Auerbach stated that Canadian Bobby Croft “was the top pro prospect in the country (USA).” Big words for a big fellah who ended up being drafted by two professional leagues, the NBA and American Basketball Association (A.B.A.) Croft played only one campaign in the ABA but got the nod to this list due to the fact that the red, white and blue basketball league was on par with the NBA in talent.
Drafted by: Boston Celtics, 1970 NBA, 123rd pick overall, Texas Chaparrals, 1970 ABA, 2nd round
Voted Canada’s top basketball player of the half century 1900-50 Baker was once described by former Harlem Globetrotter founder and manager, the late Abe Saperstein, as “one of the greatest natural basketball players I have ever seen.” High praise indeed for a man who only played a few games in the big leagues (held in check for four games while playing with the Chicago Stags 1946-47 Basketball Association of America – B.A.A.) Was the leading scorer in the short-lived Pacific Coast Professional Basketball League (1946-48) while wearing the colours of the Vancouver Hornets. Norm has participated in world championships, which were open at the time to top college and pro players, and can account for 4 senior titles under his sneakers.
Drafted by: Not Drafted
Right from the ranks of Coquitlam’s Centennial Secondary in British Columbia, Hansen headed south to play at the University of Washington. Due to the ABA dispersal draft, Hansen saw his stock drop with the Chicago Bulls when they landed Artis Gilmore. Hansen did make it to the show as a member of the NBA champion Seattle Supersonics 1978. In 1981, Hansen was named Player of the Year and scoring champion of the FIBA First Division Spanish League.
Drafted by: Chicago, 1976 NBA Draft, 37th pick overall & Los Angeles, 1977 NBA Draft, 151st overall
The Winnipeg Wonder, Todd MacCulloch, made a name for himself at the U of Washington where he led the nation in field goal percentage for three years in a row. Only the second collegian – Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas was the other – to achieve that feat. Retired after only four years in NBA (Philadelphia ‘99-01 and ‘02-03 New Jersey ‘01-02) due to a neurological disorder affecting the peripheral nerves. Participated in the Schick Rookie Challenge during the 2000 All-Star Weekend. Could have had a long career as a top quality journeyman centre.
Drafted by: Philadelphia, 1999 NBA Draft, 47th pick overall
Talk about big shoes. In 1991 Fox became the Boston Celtics first rookie to start on opening night since Larry Bird (1979). Stayed six seasons, including one wearing the “C”, before heading to LA where he wore the Lakers colours for seven seasons. Three championship rings (2000, 2001 and 2002). A versatile 6-7 swingman who could do it all and was always on the edge of stardom. Like several other players on this list – Houbregs, Vandeweghe – Fox moved from Canada at an early age. He left for the Bahamas at the age of two and then back to the USA for high school hoops.
Drafted by: Boston, 1991 NBA Draft, 24th pick overall
Selected by Cleveland, 1983 NBA Draft, 24th pick, Granger played three NBA seasons: Cleveland 1983-84; Atlanta 1984-85 and New York 86-87. He was also a first team U.S.B.L. All-Star in 1986 while a member of the Wildwood Aces. Granger made the New York State high school finals in 1979 playing for NYC-Nazareth. Fellow Montreal native Bill Wennington, also made the New York State high school finals. Wennington in 1981 with Brookville-L.I. Lutheran.
Drafted by: Cleveland, 1983 NBA Draft, 24th pick overall
Call him what you want. Kid Canada or Hair Canada…Steve Nash simply said, is the best basketball player, perhaps even athlete, to date to come from Canada. Standing 6-foot-3, giving an inch or two, Nash was last year’s MVP. No controversy here. His overall efficiency ratings rank him as one of the best ever! Made a name and game for himself while with the Dallas Mavericks. Now look for him to lead the Phoenix Suns to an NBA title. He is the sponsor of the Steve Nash Youth Basketball League in British Columbia that has grown to over 10,000 participants.
Drafted by: Phoenix, 1996 NBA Draft, 15th pick overall
Give it to him that he spent 10 years on our National Team and that he is a member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, but Rautins never really had the chance to live up to his press clippings. The youngest player ever to put on national colours (at age 16) he would leave Saint Michael’s in Toronto to later make a name for himself at Syracuse University. Plagued by bad knees – 14 operations – his pro career consisted of two uninspired seasons in the NBA and an eight-year stint in Europe. Also suited up in the C.B.A. (1989-91) for LaCrosse and Sioux Falls. Younger kids got to know his name through his NBA television work and now he guides our national program.
Drafted by: Philadelphia, 1983 NBA Draft, 17th pick overall
From an average high school player – Port Robinson’s Eastdale Secondary – Smrek blossomed into a NCAA All-American Honourable Mention while at Canisius College. He then placed two NBA title rings (1987 and 1988 Los Angeles Lakers) on his fingers. Smrek is a true blue Canadian hoop legend who represented our country on the international level for several years. Carved out a nice NBA career.
Drafted by: Portland, 1985 NBA Draft, 25th pick overall
If there is one Canadian who deserved to have a NBA championship ring it’s Bill Wennington. A member of the 1984 and 1992 Canadian Olympic teams he was part of the Air Jordan dynasty with da Bulls in the 1996, 1997 and 1998. A solid 13-year NBA career. Never averaged more than 7.1 ppg but earned his paycheque every night.
Drafted by: Dallas, 1985 NBA Draft, 16th pick overall
Showcasing his talents for the Eastern Commerce Saints, this Toronto product was a hot recruit and landed a college gig in U of Kentucky where he is the Wildcats all time leader in blocked shots (268). Has an NCAA championship ring (1998) to go along with his appearance in the NBA All-Star Game (2004), where he proved with 19 points and eight rebounds in only 21 minutes of action that he should be a starter for many more seasons.
Drafted by: Charlotte, 2000 NBA Draft, 19th pick overall
A name unknown to most Canadian sports fans. Yet, Biasatti has the rare distinction to have been the only Canadian to date to play at the major league level in basketball and baseball (Philadelphia Athletics 1949). Had a sip of coffee with the Toronto Huskies (1946-47 B.A.A.) – along with fellow Canuck Gino Sovran. Perhaps the most memorable hoops moment for Biasatti was in 1945 when his college team – Assumption – earned a 49-45 decision over the one and only Harlem Globetrotters.
Drafted by: Boston Celtics, 1947 BAA Draft
A lacklustre three-year career at Boston College (1980-83) was followed by a lacklustre three games in the NBA (1985-86). The lanky 7-footer totalled four minutes. Pro highlight was his third place ranking in the blocked shots category, 1.6 per game, while playing for the 1986 United States Basketball League’s (U.S.B.L.) Springfield Flame. Also played with Jim Zoet on the 1983 edition of the Toronto Tornadoes of the Continental Basketball Association (C.B.A.).
Drafted by: Chicago, 1983 NBA Draft, 75th pick overall
Made the move north of the 49th parallel from Bishop Laughlin in Brooklyn, NY in the late 1960s to showcase his talents as a guard with the Acadia Axemen. Once scored 74 points in a single game (Acadia vs. Mount Allison, 1967-68). Star player in the Eastern Basketball Association.
Drafted by: Baltimore, 1969 NBA Draft, 215th pick overall
Joins Hank Biasatti as one of two Canucks to hit the hardwood for the Toronto Huskies (1946-47). Top college player reaching the 1,000 point plateau for U of Windsor. Also played at University of Detroit Mercy. 2002 Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
Drafted by: Not Drafted
Nicknamed Doc, Vandeweghe may be better known as father of shooting forward Kiki Vandeweghe (racked up nearly 16,000 NBA regular season points 1980-1993). Born in Montreal, left as a kid. Played his high school ball at Oceanside, NY and then Colgate University. One of the top shooters during his short NBA career.
Drafted by: New York, 1949 BAA Draft, 29th overall
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1987) played five NBA seasons – 1953-58 – Milwaukee Hawks, Baltimore Bullets, Boston Celtics, Fort Wayne Pistons and Detroit Pistons. Drafted by Milwaukee – 1953 NBA first round pick. First Canadian-born as such…not Leo Rautins as usually stated. NCAA Player of the Year (1953). Would rank behind, or even slightly ahead, of Steve Nash as the Greatest Canuck ever but really has no Maple Leaf connections, living in our country only during his tyke years before dribbling south.
Drafted by: Milwaukee, 1953 NBA Draft, 3rd pick overall
A member of the 1980 Canadian Olympic team (also National Team member 1977-80 and 1990) Zoet played only seven games with the Detroit Pistons (1982-83) but went on to globetrot his talents professionally in Holland, England, Argentina, Mexico and the Philippines. Jim nearly made it to the big show by surviving the last two cuts of the Atlanta Hawks’ training camp in 1982. Split his college career with time in the USA (Kent State University) and Canada (Lakehead University)
Drafted by: Not Drafted
Additional Canadians drafted by NBA teams:
Milwaukee, 1981 NBA Draft, 181st
Detroit, 1982 NBA Draft, 214th
Detroit, 1975 NBA Draft, 169th
Portland, 1979 NBA Draft, 56th
Utah, 1983 NBA Draft, 146th
Chicago, 1985 NBA Draft, 125th
Portland, 1980 NBA Draft, 125th
Washington, 1986 Draft, 82nd
Indiana, 1994 NBA Draft, 41st
Seattle, 1984 NBA Draft, 106th
Buffalo, 1975 NBA Draft, 158th
New York, 1983 NBA Draft 128th pick
St. Louis Hawks, 1964 NBA Draft Rd 13
St. Louis Hawks, 1964 NBA Draft Rd 12
Denver, 1984 NBA Draft, 79th
Buffalo 1973 NBA Draft 211th
LA Lakers, 1981 NBA Draft, 179th
Chicago, 1984 NBA Draft, 43rd
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.