Friday, November 4, 2011

Welcoming The Oshawa Power NBL Team

I was born in Scarborough, grew up in Malvern, and lived the majority of my life in Ajax. Went to Pickering High School, and am by nature, acutely familiar with all things Durham.

Even after years in Windsor, Detroit, and eventually settling back in Scarborough again permanently, I am often surprised at my allegiance to Toronto's east...the love for my home town, and particularly how much it feels like "home" whenever I head down the 401 and return to the Durham Region.

Attending last week's (October 27) pre-season Oshawa Power basketball game against the London Lightning, and last night's (November 3) home opener against the Moncton Miracles, has confirmed my hometown support and furthermore, my Canadian pride. The more I learn abot the NBL in general the more I realize how dedicated I am to seeing this culture grow. Sports culture. Entertainment culture. Urban culture. Canadian culture. I love the progression, and I love what it represents.

Upon entry to the General Motors Centre in Oshawa, I was pleased to see Quisha Wint rock the Canadian National Anthem. I have become familiar with her work and seen her perform numerous times...I think her voice was the perfect blessing for the game.

The game was exciting! The Oshawa Power held the lead all night, and kept the fans captivated. Particularly memorable performances from Akeem Wright (#35) and Morgan Lewis (#20) on the dunking tip, with some great plays from Toronto's Tut Ruach (#4), and Jushaw Rockette (#10) as well. EJ Kusney (#31) and Brandon Robinson (#15) hit some 3's...all of the elements of a great game were there. The Power won, 107-80.

It was great to see some of my former classmates in positions of leadership in a sport they have loved since back back back in the day, and have now easily transitioned it into a career.

I enjoyed seeing John Henry, the major of Oshawa, sitting courtside in his orange scarf, caught up in the hype, waving his orange Power towel. Also enjoyed seeing Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia courtside: a fan is a fan is a fan, no matter where the game is taking place. Support is golden.

Awesome to connect with Drew Ebanks and Theleepan Surendra. Respect due to Gary Durrant, the President of Operations, Mark Strickland, the head coach, and CEO Marcus Williams, for organizing and managing a great team. On point.

It was wonderful to see the supporters (particularly the young boys) lined up to meet the players after the game, take photos, and get autographs. These are icons and role models that they have access to, that they can aspire to emulate...and that make their dreams (of sports, or otherwise) that much more tangible. So important.

It was a good experience overall, and one I look forward to seeing escalate on so many levels. There is nothing better than watching something from its inaugural days, and anticipating the development, the growth, and the inevitable successes that come as a result of the passion put into it.

So thanks to the Oshawa Power and those who worked hard to establish the NBL, and who are working even harder to maintain it. Thanks to the players, many who have left their home countries to help establish a league in our country, all for the love of the game. Thanks to the fans who do what they have to do to keep the energy of basketball alive (despite the inactive Raptors as the NBA continues to work through their issues), and to those who have allowed us this escape and entertainment for the winter...and the future.

Next home game: November 14 against the Saint John Mill Rats. See you there!

Founded in 2011, the National Basketball League of Canada is the country's only professional basketball league. NBL Canada is committed to developing the next generation of Canadian athletes and raising the excitement and awareness for basketball throughout the country. Seven teams will play in the inaugural 2011-2012 season and the league is poised for continued expansion across Canada. NBL Canada is headquartered in Toronto, Ont.

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