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NBA commissioner floats Montreal as possible expansion destination

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NBA commissioner floats Montreal as possible expansion destination
WATCH: There is major excitement among Montreal sports fans. The dream of the city one day having its own NBA basketball team inched just a little bit closer. The commissioner of the world's top basketball league floated Montreal as a possible expansion destination during an interview Monday night. Global's Dan Spector reports. – Nov 14, 2023

There is major excitement among Montreal sports fans Tuesday, as the dream of the city one day having its own NBA basketball team inched just a little bit closer to reality.

The commissioner of the world’s top basketball league floated Montreal as a possible expansion destination during an interview last night.

As the Boston Celtics played the New York Knicks, the broadcast team was talking with NBA commissioner Adam Silver about the possibility of the  league adding new teams in Canada.

“That’s become a great basketball market,” Silver told NBC Sports Boston. “I will say the Toronto Raptors have done a good job of making themselves Canada’s team. I know there’s interest from Montreal. There’s still ongoing interest in Vancouver.”

Many Canadian ears perked up as Silver floated Montreal and Vancouver as possible expansion destinations for one of the biggest sports leagues on the planet.

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“There will be more opportunity there over time,” Silver said of Canada.

Montreal Basketball director and founder of Brookwood Elite Joey Mckitterick is among those intrigued by Silver’s words.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I think everybody’s really antsy to get an NBA team here.”

Mckitterick coached Montreal-raised NBA star Bennedict Mathurin when he was coming up, and regularly sees first-hand the hunger for basketball among the city’s youth.

“Montreal would definitely be a good place for a team, and it’d be a good rivalry with Toronto as well,” basketball fan Sebastian Tchakounte told Global News as he was locking his bike in downtown Montreal.

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“I think it would work here, its passionate fan base for sports in general. Montreal has always been like that,” said Nate Rumley as he walked near the Bell Centre.

Montreal boasts multiple homegrown NBA players, including Mathurin and Lu Dort, both of Montreal North.

NBA pre-season games at the Bell Centre have been successful, and when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title in 2019, thousands packed the streets of Montreal to watch and celebrate.

Mckitterick thinks cultivating fans wouldn’t be an issue.

“The opposing team can draw as much as the home team, just because it’s such a star-driven league,” he explained, saying fans would buy tickets to catch a glimpse of players like LeBron James and Steph Curry.

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His question is whether those with deeper pockets would open their wallets.

“Those luxury suites don’t sell easy. Those courtside seats don’t sell easy,” Mckitterick said.

The head of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce is a believer.

“In my view, given the status of Montreal, the dynamic we have, it would be very profitable and something the population would love,” said Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

Leblanc was present in 2018 when a group of business people, including GardaWorld founder Stephane Cretier, pitched Montreal as a perfect NBA city.

Leblanc is happy to hear Adam Silver is thinking about Montreal

“That’s very positive,” he said.

If the city does get a team, though, it could be when today’s young ballers are all grown up, and 21-year-old Benn Mathurin is in retirement.

The NBA has expressed interest in Las Vegas and Seattle for its next expansion round, so Montreal’s turn might come in the next round after that.

“You’ve got to think about 15, 20 years, then probably two or three years to activate and launch,” Mckitterick guesses.

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One can still dream of a raucous Bell Centre roaring for a thunderous slam dunk during an NBA game.

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Montreal NBA player returns to hometown to impart important lessons

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