NBA teams in Canada

Canada is a country in the north of America and the world’s second-largest country by total area. NBA teams in Canada are fewer than you might think. Canada has only one NBA team: the Toronto Raptors, like we said, there are not many NBA teams in Canada. The Raptors were founded in 1995 and they are based in Toronto, Ontario.

They joined NBA in 1996 after struggling with their league called the National Basketball League of Canada or NBL for short. NBA has NBA G-league teams in many different Canadian cities, but it’s only a minor league.

The NBA G-League in Canada

It has seven teams located across Canada: Raptors905, Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Delaware 87ers, Erie Bayhawks, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and Wisconsin Herd. The NBA also has NBA Summer League teams in Canadian cities like Toronto, Ontario, and both Montreal & Ottawa, Quebec.

nba teams in canada

History of Canadian Teams in the NBA

Canadian teams did try to move to the NBA, but only one who was in NBA for a while. The Toronto Huskies were an original NBA team that played from 1946-1947 before moving back to Canada and becoming the Toronto Raptors.

The other team that comes to mind is the Vancouver Grizzlies. Competing between 1995-2001 before moving out of the country again; today known as the Memphis Grizzlies.

The First NBA Game Involved a Canadian Team!

The NBA’s first-ever game was played on November 22nd, 1946 at Maple Leaf Gardens between New York Knicks and Toronto Huskies. Although, as previously mentioned, they only lasted one season due to poor performance (lost all their games). Financial struggles & lack of support from fans led to them moving back into Canada again to become Raptors.

Who Are The Toronto Raptors?

The Toronto Raptors are NBA’s only Canadian NBA Team. They are currently at the verge of starting their 28th season and played in NBA finals twice (previously winning the championship back in 2016). Their biggest rivals are Brooklyn Nets & New York Knicks due to their location between those two cities. But they don’t have any other NBA rivalries right now. Since all teams from Eastern Conference would be a major match-up.

The Origins of The Raptors

Basketball in Toronto started back up again when the new owner, John Bitove, bought a $125 million expansion fee for the team on February 12th, 1993. The deal still had some fine print though; NBA decided that if Canada wouldn’t get an NBA team within three years then it would be moved out of the country.

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After rumors regarding Vancouver Grizzlies moving down south to Memphis, Tennessee before even playing one game there since the Canadian economy wasn’t strong enough at the time. That’s when NBA announced that NBA was expanding for the third time in three years. Adding two more teams to the league.

Toronto won over Vancouver with their proposal & NBA granted them the right of getting a new team on April 27th, 1993. Thus becoming Canada’s first NBA Team!

NBA also told Toronto Huskies owners to sell their franchise rights after they moved back into the country. So it became Raptors instead.

nba teams in canada

The Arenas

They have been known as this ever since 1995 when they started playing games in previous Maple Leaf Gardens. Which was replaced by Scotia Bank Arena (where Air Canada Centre is located today). Although due to lack of season ticket sales; the Raptors had played some early regular-season home games in 1996 at the SkyDome (now known as Rogers Centre). Before moving into an NBA arena.

They played their home games out of Scotia Bank Arena for six years until NBA finished building Air Canada Center; which remains to be used today… The Raptors are estimated to make $12 million per season playing there. But they also get a cut from concession sales & parking fees during basketball games!

Vince Carter Returns!

Another big change was when Tim Leiweke (MLSE) brought ex-Raptors star Vince Carter back in 2004 by trading him with New Jersey Nets even though his contract would expire after that same year. They then went on to beat Knicks 106-104 and tied up NBA record 16 game win streak set by LA Lakers back in 1971.

NBA thought so much of them that the NBA put Raptors vs Nets on national TV during the NBA Finals even though they were only the second round game; thus inviting new fans into Raptors fandom!

Although, Carter did not end up staying for long; he ended up getting traded to Orlando Magic later on down the line (he also got booed when returning home since people felt like MLSE took advantage of him).

Other Significant Drafts and Trades

Another big change was when Bryan Colangelo joined the Toronto Raptors organization as General Manager & President – who made Andrea Bargnani their first-ever European player drafted with the number one overall pick in 2006.

They also tried trading Bosh but it failed and eventually won over Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Playoffs… But after losing against Orlando Magic in NBA Finals, they went back to NBA Draft Lottery and drafted Bargnani who was then traded for #s one pick of the 2009 NBA draft – which became DeMar Derozan.

Drake and The Raptors

World-renowned Drake also has a stake in NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Drake joined the team when MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) acquired his rights back in 2013 by making him an international ambassador for all three of their franchises (Raptors, Maple Leafs, and TFC).

This was a dramatic shift because he has been known to support basketball since childhood; even wearing the #15 jersey during NBA Finals games watching Kawhi Leonard play at San Antonio Spurs! They also signed DeMar Derozan to a $40 million deal which made them sign Rudy Gay as well – thus giving fans something to cheer about after they lost Bosh who went on signing with Miami Heat.

Great Canadian NBA Players

Apart from the Toronto Raptors, Canada also produced some of the best NBA players like NBA legend Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns), Kiki Vandeweghe, Rick Fox (Boston Celtics), and Bill Wennington.

nba teams in canada; great canadian players

We also want to mention NBA players like Jamaal Magloire who joined the Raptors when they were in New Orleans Hornets & even coached them for a bit; along with Kelly Olynyk of Boston Celtics and Andrew Wiggins playing for Minnesota Timberwolves right now!


In conclusion to our question about “How Many NBA Teams are in Canada?”, it turns out that there is currently one NBA team located in Ontario, Canada – which is NBA’s Toronto Raptors!

We’ve also included the history behind NBA teams in Canada, significant draft picks and trades to name a few. Stay tuned for our next blog posts where we will be talking about everything NBA.

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