Latest news cements the reality that basketball in Canada has never been better

The WNBA announced that Toronto will be the home for a new franchise in 2026, the latest signal that basketball in Canada is at an all-time high
Ukrainian President Zelensky Attends Rally For Ukraine With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Ukrainian President Zelensky Attends Rally For Ukraine With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau / Katherine KY Cheng/GettyImages

Justin Trudeau said a few words.

He wasn't holding a cup from TIm Horton's and he didn't have a mounted police escort, but the fact that the Prime Minister of the world's 10th largest economy was there granted instant legitimacy to the event and made it distinctly Canadian.

What was the event? The announcement that in 2026 the newest WNBA expansion team will call Toronto, Ontario, Canada its home. WNBA Commissioner hosted a press conference Thursday in Toronto that had such Canadian luminaries as Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri, Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry.

Lowry isn't even on the Raptors anymore, and he came up for the announcement.

A new WNBA Team is coming to Canada

The reality is that even while the WNBA canvasses the continent for the best locations for its expansion teams, Toronto was such a no-brainer selection that they went ahead and locked it in. The league hopes to expand from 12 to 16 teams over the next few years; San Francisco and Oakland will add the "Golden State Valkyries" next year (one of the best names in sports, instantly) and now Toronto will start play in 2026.

Interest in women's basketball has skyrocketed in Canada over the past few years, as it has all over the world. Toronto is one of the largest cities in North America and a slam-dunk location for teams in every sport; it was an obvious choice to gain an expansion team.

The new team will even brand itself for all of Canada, playing games in other cities across the nation. That should pave the way for a second Canadian team down the line.

Basketball in Canada is having a moment right now. Canadian Aaliyah Edwards was the No. 6 pick in the WNBA Draft this year, joining Bridget Carleton and Laeticia Amihere as Canadians on WNBA rosters this season (no, Jordin Canada is from Los Angeles).

On the men's side, the National Team just secured the bronze medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, knocking off the United States in the third-place game. They will be among the favorites at the Paris Olympics this summer, and all the more with Jamal Murray likely joining the roster. 24 Canadian players were in the NBA this past season.

None were more impressive than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished second in MVP voting and will be among the favorites heading into next season. He has an excellent chance at joining Steve Nash as the only Canadians to bring home that prestigious honor.

Even the upcoming talent from Canada is impressive, and that's not to mention the presumptive No. 1 pick in 2025 is from Maine! Cooper Flagg is essentially Canadian.

This is a phenomenal moment for both women's basketball and Canadian basketball. Over the next year the details of the team will be finalized, including the team name. For now, it's about the excitement and history of the announcement.

It took the Raptors about 25 years to win a title; can the women's team beat them to the finish line?

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