Canada Becomes a Basketball Factory

Canada Becomes a Basketball Factory

The All-Star point guard Kemba Walker hails from New York, and he is a fine hoopster, but when you get beyond a top few, most current city products occupy the backbenches of the N.B.A. The talent production in Philadelphia and Baltimore, which also take their basketball bona fides seriously, is not a lot better.

Mississauga and neighboring Toronto are rising fast by contrast, with 11 native-born players in the N.B.A., including Tristan Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk. Jamal Murray, a guard for the Denver Nuggets, grew up farther west, in Kitchener, Ontario. The Raptors have a Canadian, Chris Boucher of Montreal North, on their roster.

“I found Jamal dribbling hours before the game wearing gardener gloves to improve his feel for the ball,” said Sbiet, whose North Pole Hoops is a scouting and evaluation service. “He was playing kids two years older and dominating the court.”

For their unrelenting and manifold failures, the Knicks have earned the third pick in the N.B.A. draft on June 20. They are expected to draft the sweet-shooting, 6-foot-7 R.J. Barrett, who came out of Mississauga before putting in a cameo appearance at Duke.

The Raptors have sparked and fed this phenomenon: Enthusiasm for the team borders on mania. But immigration offers a firmer longitudinal explanation. Anti-immigrant sentiment now runs like a fever in some precincts south of the Canadian border, but Mississauga and sections of Toronto were built block by block upon the backs of hard-striving new arrivals: Sudanese, Indians and West Indians, Lithuanians, Chinese, Filipinos, Palestinians, Egyptians, Poles, Senegalese and on and on.

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