ESPN is unabashedly a rotating advertisement for its own programming. Affectionately, the NFL/LeBron James channel. So this is breaking news if there ever was any when it comes to the NBA.
TSN.ca is reporting that James is officially going back to play NBA basketball in his home state of Ohio for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here's a piece from SI.com written by LeBron that details his decision.
James' choice to go back has been pending for quite a few days now and the world finally has an answer.
He is back after a successful 4 seasons away with the Miami Heat where he made the NBA finals each year and captured 2 Larry O'Brien Championship trophies in the process.
How the Cavalier fans will accept him is still unknown, but anything is better than what they had before. One question lingers, what will the Cavs do with Canadian phenom draftee Andrew Wiggins? Try to fit him in with LeBron (they play the same position)? Trade him? Move to shooting guard?
In a city so devoted to its hockey team as Montreal (well, maybe not quite so devoted given last night's performance), it's hard to imagine there being room in the hearts of Montrealers for another internationally recognized professional sports team.
But one Montrealer hopes that isn't the case.
14 years old and hailing from the city's South Shore, young Montrealer Jacob Rose has a dream, one he hopes to share with the entire city: an NBA team in Montreal.
An avid player of basketball himself, Jacob has a true love for the game, and believes most of Montreal feels the same. Or, at least they would if Montreal were to be home to its own NBA team.
With unbridled passion and enthusiasm, Jacob took the initiative to write to us and outline his dream for Montreal's professional basketball team, which he has dubbed the Montreal Metros.
"Why Montreal Metros you ask?" Jacob writes in his letter, "Because it is the main form of transportation in our city. The metro transports us anywhere in Montreal," and in Jacob's eyes, an NBA team will bring Montrealers together much like the city's public transit network.
And the proposed NBA team will attract those from beyond Montreal's borders, with basketball fans traveling to the city in order to watch a game played by the Metros, as Jacob predicts.
Combined with the merchandise, Jacob believes ticket sales for the Montreal Metros will make the team into a lucrative source of revenue for the city, one that will far outweigh the costs.
Montreal even has deep historical ties to the game of basketball, making an NBA team in the city all the more fitting. McGill's first Director of Athletics, Ontario-born Dr. James Naismith, went on to create the game of basketball in Springfield, MA, only a short time after leaving the university.
Should the Montreal Metros come to exist, as Jacob dearly hopes, we would be paying homage to a revolutionary innovator of athletics who began his career in Montreal, while introducing a new source of pride and enthusiasm for modern Montrealers.
But of course, a young Montrealers dream is not nearly enough to bring a professional basketball team into fruition. Let's not forget the ill-fated Montreal Jazz basketball team, not to mention the Expos, as the same issues could plague a new sports team.
Adding to the list of probable problems is the issue of funding; would Montreal even have the financial resources to set up an NBA team? Also, would any of the city's leaders and influencers be on board. And would the NBA even be open to a new Canadian team?
Fortunately, the largest expense that would come with creating an NBA team, namely that of a stadium, is already taken care of in Montreal. Should the Montreal Metros come to exist, they could simply play at the Bell Centre.
Evenko already proved the Bell Centre is well equipped to play host to professional basketball games, as seen this past October when the Toronto Raptors played a pre-season game at the illustrious sporting venue. The same setup could easily be repeated for the Montreal Metros.
It's also worth mentioning that a rather powerful Montrealer seems to share Jacob's dream of having an NBA team in Montreal, Geoff Molson. Last May, the owner of the Habs went on the record stating his desire to launch an NBA franchise in Montreal.
While the meeting between Molson, his team, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wasn't exactly fruitful, with the latter stating there wasn't a plan to expand the league at the time, the group did state the Bell Centre would "welcome" a team when the time came.
Canada's relationship with the NBA has only grown better since. Come February 14th, Toronto will play host to the 65th edition of the NBA All-Star Game, the very first time the sporting event has been held outside of the United States.
Sure, this doesn't mean all that much, but it does showcase that the leaders of the NBA recognize Canada as a nation devoted to the game of basketball.
Seemingly, the only thing missing from the Montreal Metros (or an NBA team by another name) from coming to Montreal is support from fans of basketball in the city. Because if an NBA team were to launch in Montreal, would enough Montrealers actually go watch the team play?
Jacob knows there would be more than enough fan-support, if only from existing basketball leagues alone.
Lasalle, St Leonard, and Sun Youth (just to mention a few) all organize basketball leagues, not to mention the large amount of adult leagues and the various club programs found in the city.
Evidently, basketball is a much-adored sport in Montreal, even though it may not be quite at the forefront of the city's culture like hockey is. Jacob is living proof of this fact, and his enthusiasm showcases the desires shared by many Montrealers, young and old.
So while Montreal may have to wait a while before the NBA is ready to expand, and there are logistical issues that need to be addressed, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for the dream to come to fruition, like Jacob has, does, and will.
Positive change always starts with the youth, and hopefully Jacob's sheer enthusiasm has (at the least) put the notion of a Montreal NBA team in your minds and hearts.
In Jacob's words: “Thank you for reading and let's make this happen!”
Now that we are at the end of the first week-end of March Madness, it’s time for a question: What’s in a brand? Some brands are instantly recognizable from the moment they are created. Others build-up over time, or get a refreshed image, and many more just fade away. Montreal has many great brands, and one in particular isn’t being used to its full potential. The Expos have long been a brand without a product.
It’s something that people in this city are nostalgic about and recognize immediately. What if, like other brands that have turned themselves around with a new, fresh image, the Expos got a makeover? Baseball is long gone in Montreal, but there’s a recent buzz that we are quickly becoming a basketball city. There are good reasons why the NBA should be looking to our city for a new team, and what better way to make an entrance than to use the existing excitement around a team name that we already love?
A couple of years ago an article in local blog Hoops Lounge entitled "Why Montreal is an NBA city"
The Bell Centre has hosted pre-season NBA games in three consecutive seasons, and each time the game was sold out. It’s hard to ignore the fact that we are selling out an arena for pre-season games of any sport. While hockey roots run deep in this city, and probably always will, more and more kids are plugging into basketball culture. From a practical standpoint, basketball is a lot cheaper to play. From an emotional standpoint, there are more and more Canadian players in the NBA for kids to look up to now. Finding idols at a young age stays with people all their lives, and that passion gets passed on through generations. Having someone to relate to when you’re playing ball with your friends on the week-end makes the game feel more real and more personal. (Personally, I always chose to be Muggsy Bogues when I played with my friends, but he and I were always vertically challenged.)
If the idea of borrowing the Expos name sounds far-fetched, let’s not forget that our much-loved Canadiens mascot Youpi used to belong to the Expos. It was a simple and brilliant idea: update the image of the organization by tapping into that local nostalgia. Branding for Dummies explains that: "a business needs to monitor, evaluate, and update a brand to keep it relevant and credible in light of changes to your business". The Expos are something from Montreal, for Montreal. What has changed is that the people here consistently play and watch basketball much more than they do baseball, and it's about time we start acting like it!