Success of Toronto Raptors having impact on Regina basketball lovers
REGINA – Basketball isn’t a sport typically associated with Regina, but with the Toronto Raptors sailing into the playoffs basketball lovers in the Queen City are taking notice.
The Raptors play their final regular season game Wednesday night after breaking their franchise record in number of games won.
The big achievement has the city’s basketball fans beaming.
“The heart should be a basketball,” longtime referee Warren Poncsak joked.
A 31-year veteran, Poncsak said the game has become more popular in the Queen City over the years.
“It’s grown immensely,” adding that a lot has to do with the sport’s culture and its accessibility. “It’s social, it’s a music, hip hop thing. The NBA is really big that way.”
University of Regina kinesiology professor Larena Hoeber attributes the popularity to a known fact.
“It’s the one Canadian NBA Team,” she said.
“I think we’re seeing more kids wearing Raptors stuff around, I see it more around campus, so yeah the success and them being our only Canadian does help.”
On the court at LeBoldus High School, students on the senior boys basketball team have also witnessed the Raptors rise.
“Actually I went to a couple games over the Easter break,” Grade 12 student Carter Millar said.
Millar said he plays power-forward and that he and his teammates have been watching the Raptors since they were little.
“They use to kind of suck, I’m not going to lie but now they’ve really gotten themselves together,” he added.
The Raptors turnaround now has the team ranked second in the Eastern Conference going into the playoffs, which seems to be sending a strong message.
“It kind of just lets you know that it’s possible to be successful in Canada.” Millar said.Follow @BrandonGonez