The NBA has come a long way since its first historical milestone in Toronto — when the Knicks’ Ossie Schectman scored the inaugural points in NBA history in a 68-66 victory over the Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 1, 1946.
On Sunday, the city will host the first NBA All-Star Game held outside the United States, this time at Air Canada Centre and with a guy name Melo, not Ossie, representing the Knicks.
Most Americans assume Toronto primarily is a hockey town, which it is, with basketball as an afterthought, which it most certainly is not. Raptors fans are among the loudest and most passionate in the NBA.
“Their knowledge of the game is growing,” TNT analyst Reggie Miller said on a conference call to promote the event. “It is usually a hockey town, but they have really jumped on the bandwagon of the Raptors. It is a growing culture and they are starting to understand the game.”
Said fellow analyst Chris Webber, “What I love about them is their enthusiasm. They bring that hockey enthusiasm.”
Play-by-play man Marv Albert, who was 5 when the Knicks won in ’46, said, “Things have really changed in Toronto for basketball. There is so much interest. I think it will be just a great scene there.”