Young and upcoming basketball players in East York are determined to destroy stereotypes that Canadians can’t hold their own.
At a local tournament held at Kings Courts in Toronto March 26, four teams of five played their hearts out to win a $500 cash prize. The teams wanted to show the area they are the best street-ball players in Toronto.
With tournaments like this becoming more common in East York, local players like Jonathan Telesford feel like people have been put on “notice.”
Tournaments like this one are important for players in Toronto, as it helps local players like Telesford find teammates to play with. It also helps others looking to pursue a social media career gain exposure.
“I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for weeks,” Jonathan Telesford, a local 23-year-old basketball player said. “It’s been hard to get games to play with COVID happening in the last two years. So, this tourney really means a lot to all of us; not only can we compete, but, we can all finally play the game we love at a competitive level.”
The tournament was set up into a bracket where the four teams were split up into two groups of two, then the winners of those games faced off against each other.
“It’s exciting, you know?” Telesford said. “Places like Scarborough, The Danforth, anywhere in the area have the most talented players I’ve seen, ever. With these tournaments, it starts opening a lot of people’s eyes, it brings a lot of attention from scouts and such. I finally feel like we’re finally being recognized.”
Telesford has been playing since elementary school, and he’s seen how the sport and the culture has changed while growing up.
“I honestly think that everything started to change once the Raptors won the [NBA] title back in 2019,” he said. “A lot of people started to watch the sport, embrace the culture, from the sneakers to the game itself. It all came together that year.
“Ever since then, not even just East York, Toronto itself, has become a basketball city.”
It’s a common stereotype amongst Americans that Canadians can’t keep up with them. A lot of Canadian players are overlooked strictly on assumptions. These players have been waiting to smash these stereotypes and prove to everyone that Canadians are not only nice off the court.
Currently Canada is the second most represented nation in the NBA after the U.S., with 25 Canadian players on team rosters as of this current season. However, it is still an uphill climb for the players who want to take their career to the next level, as they would have to head to America to be taken more seriously.
“The way the media and America has been treating players like us have been bothering me for a while now” Elyjah Brown a 25-year-old player from Pickering, Ont. said. “You can see how some of the NBA officials and players treat the Raptors , and they’re not even all Canadian. So imagine what it’s like for young players trying to prove themselves.”
“Honestly, this group of guys here at this tournament alone could keep up with a lot of young American players,” Brown said. “It’s only recently that people have started to look at Canadian hoopers. I guess you can thank the Raptors or YouTubers like K Showtime.
K Showtime is a Canadian based basketball YouTuber with currently 230,000 subscribers and growing quickly. His rough and tough style of basketball is what has captured audiences to watch him weekly.
“He’s been showing out for the city and is proving what we’re made of.”
“Hopefully the culture continues to grow and everyone can see why Canada deserves more than one NBA team.”