Title: ‘Guys are hungry out in Canada’: Crown League the latest example of growth of basketball in Toronto
Date: July 29, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Nike Crown League, the latest canary in the coalmine for the growth of basketball in Toronto.
It was not quite the championship celebration either have had in mind in the long-term. But it was a championship celebration nonetheless, though, one that was as much about the continued growth of basketball in the city of Toronto as it was about M.A.D.E., one of the six teams competing, becoming Nike Crown League champions. Leaning in to hear through the blasts from confetti cannons and adorned in championship shirts, hats, and chains, Norman Powell and Delon Wright seemed taken aback at the spectacle that followed their impromptu title performances.
“It was a good atmosphere,” Wright said as fans, friends and media filled the court at Ryerson University’s Kerr Hall. “I’ve never played in this league before. Next year, I’ll try to play again. It was a good atmosphere, and the fans were awesome.”
It was quite a spectacle, a pair of Toronto Raptors dropping in on short notice to swing a championship game on Friday night, the gym a sea of faces masked by cell phones trying to capture each Wright crossover in transition or thunderous Powell dunk. This is what Crown League has become: For six consecutive Fridays beginning in late June, it’s a gathering for Toronto’s most basketball-crazed fans and its most competition-hungry talent. With heavy marketing muscle, sigils for each of the league’s six teams, a live DJ and in-game commentator, capacity crowds, and elite talent on the NBA’s fringes, Nike’s signature summer basketball tournament in Toronto is experiencing a rapid and early groundswell.