Never has the interest level in Canadian basketball on a global scale been as high as it is now with two of the last three No. 1 overall NBA picks all hailing from North of the border.
There are plenty of companies looking to cash in on the increased attention received by players with Canadian roots.
And that’s a good thing – a very good thing – for Boston Celtics forward/center Kelly Olynyk who grew up in Canada.
The latest company to try and tap into the growing market for Canadian pitchmen is BMO Financial Group which announced endorsement deals with four NBA players who all have ties to Canada.
In addition to Olynyk who is from Toronto but grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia, BMO also signed reigning rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Ennis who plays for Milwaukee.
Wiggins (Toronto) and Ennis (Brampton, Ontario) are both from Canada while Lowry plays for the Toronto Raptors.
“BMO has a longstanding commitment to supporting sport in communities across Canada,” Connie Stefankiewicz, Chief Marketing Officer of BMO Financial Group, said in a statement. “The partnerships with Andrew, Kyle, Kelly and Tyler are an evolution that fits well with our brand platform, bringing a human touch to everything we do. We’re excited to be welcoming these outstanding ambassadors of the game to the BMO team.”
The growth of Canadian basketball in recent years in the NBA was preceded by more and more players taking their talents to major college programs.
Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, spent one season at Kansas prior to entering the NBA draft. Ennis was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft after spending one season at Syracuse University.
And Olynyk was an All-American at Gonzaga University prior to leaving school with a year of eligibility remaining when the Celtics traded up in the 2013 NBA draft to select him.
Olynyk is proud of the attention that Canada has received in recent years, knowing that he’s part of this country’s basketball renaissance.
“It’s fun to see basketball on the rise in this country,” Olynyk told the Toronto Globe and Mail following a youth basketball clinic at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Sunday. “And to see kids super excited and having more and more opportunities to play here now.”