There is not going to be an NBA team in Montreal in a couple years. The NBA is not expanding anytime soon — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that repeatedly — and there are no teams on the verge of moving (if the new arena effort in Milwaukee falls through, then a door cracks open).
Still, officials from Montreal wanted to lay some groundwork.
They met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to do just that, reports Le Journal de Montreal (with a hat tip for the link and translation to NBA Reddit).
The meeting took place last January at the NBA offices in New York. It was the former minister and senator Michael Fortier, a lawyer and banker, and Kevin Gilmore, executive vice president of the Montréal Canadiens and right-hand-man of Geoff Molson who found themselves in Mr. Silver’s office….
“I was a pretty good basketball player and I’m still a big fan. I started by helping with NBA exhibition games played in front of sellout crowds at the Bell Center. First one year, then a second. I noted that the clientele was different from the one that we saw at Canadiens matches. I told myself that Montréal, with its appeal, deserved more than two exhibition games,” explained Michael Fortier, yesterday before he left for Scotland….
“We are aware that this is only a first signal sent by the people of Montreal. But we also have to understand that you have to start somewhere. Mayor Denis Coderre is up to date with these first steps and he is encouraging us. The Montréal metropolitan area is a market of more than three million residents. I am convinced that Montréal can support a hockey team, a baseball team, and a basketball team without upsetting existing franchises,” added Mr. Fortier.
Again, there is nothing coming soon. And if a franchise does go up for sale and can be moved, expect the group out of Seattle that was close to bringing the Kings to the Pacific Northwest to be at the front of the line.
But there may be no more rabid fanbase in the NBA than in Toronto, and basketball is a growing sport in Canada — the last two No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft were Canadians. The idea that another major market north of the border could support an NBA team is a very reasonable one. And I like the idea of hearing the Canadian national anthem sung in French before an NBA game.
Montreal’s leaders were just laying some groundwork. It’s how you start a long process.