The Toronto Raptors may have narrowly missed taking home the title Monday night, but the buzz over basketball is boosting attendance for local teams and creating more general interest in the sport.
Student interest in basketball is even stronger than ever at Riverview East School, says basketball coach Tyler Wood.
“We have Raptors fever here,” said Wood. “The courts are packed in the morning and they are packed in the afternoon.”
Middle school student Nolan Babin said he took up hoops and started playing on the school team, just this year, after watching the popularity of raptors roar across the country.
“I started seeing that the Raptors were winning and I couldn’t believe it cause they had not won in a while and once I seen it I started playing,” said Babin whose interest was always in hockey.
Joe Salerno is the the coach of the NBLC 2019 national champions, the Moncton Magic. He said he knows from experience that people love to rally around a winning team.
“With the success we had this season we certainly saw our fan base grow, but you can contribute some of that to the raptors and the basketball craze here in Canada,” said Salerno.
He says the magic’s attendance grew by 30% when they made the finals and ultimately won national title.
He believes the success of the Raptors will further boost their attendance at the games in Moncton in the next season
“I am seeing more and more interest from younger players all over the city, all over the country you can see it. It is tremendous to see the growth of basketball here,” said Salerno