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5 things you (probably) didn't know about basketball in Vancouver

From the first wheelchair team in Canada to the first NBA team website.
Clockwise from top left: The Vancouver Mounties logo, the Dueck car dealership that sponsored the first wheelchair basketball team in Canada, the Vancouver Eilers.

Basketball is one of the biggest sports in Canada and the world.

However, despite having been invented by a Canadian, it hasn't had the most success in Vancouver. Famously the Vancouver Grizzlies left after only a handful of seasons, and while there's discussion of expansion teams in the NBA again, it doesn't appear as though the city is high on the list, though it doesn't appear to be off the list either.

All the same, Vancouver does have a history on the court.

1. The Vancouver Eilers dominated women's basketball in the 1950s

Now it might be hard to find a reference to them, but in the 1950s, the Vancouver Eilers were one of the most dominant teams in Vancouver sports. With numerous provincial championships they were regulars a the women's national tournament where they racked up at least nine championships through the early 1950s into the early 1960s.

2. There've been a lot of attempts to start a professional basketball team in Vancouver

While the Grizzlies are the most famous attempt, there have been a few tries at bringing professional or semi-professional basketball teams to Metro Vancouver.

A few have attempted to be part of the American Basketball Association, which has had hundreds of teams. Those include the Vancouver Explorers, who never got off the ground, and the Vancouver Balloholics, who played out of BCIT and morphed into a local kids sports camp

There was also the Vancouver Dragons who were connected to a few professional leagues and became a minor league team in Langley for a season. They actually moved to Vancouver, Washington where they played semi-pro basketball. It doesn't appear they're still active.

Langley was also home to the BC Titans from 2008 to 2010. They were called the Vancouver Titans at first, but the name changed due to the league including the Vancouver Volcanoes in Washington state. The league and the Titans folded, but the Volcanoes live on in a different league.

Going back a bit further, in 1988 the Vancouver Nighthawks played out of BC Place for a season before the World Basketball league folded.

There was also the Hornets, who played nearly 80 years ago in the Pacific Coast league for a couple years before that league folded.

And then there's the one that's still around. The Vancouver Bandits rebranded to included the city's name after they moved from Abbotsford to Langley. They're playing now in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

3. The first wheelchair basketball team in Canada

Wheelchair basketball really started to grow in North America after WWII and it wasn't long before ti was getting more organized in Canada.

That led to the first team in the country being founded in 1950: the Vancouver Dueck Powerglides. Sponsored by a local car dealership, they played in wheelchairs not meant for sports.

Since there were no other teams like the Dueck Powergliders, they often played able bodied players in wheelchairs, who they dominated.

At the time many of the players ended up using wheelchairs due to polio. One player, according to the BC Sports Hall of Fame, was parapalegic after he was shot in the back during a bank robbery.

4. The Vancouver Grizzlies were the first NBA team to have a website

While the Grizzles weren't first on the court, the were the first on the net.

Before they ever played a game the team had a website, starting in 1995.

5. The Grizzlies were nearly the Mounties

In the early and mid-90s, while Vancouver sports executives were still trying to nail down an NBA franchise, the Mounties were the team name being bandied about. That's a little odd given that Vancouver has always had it's own municipal police force.

It actually made it quite far, with a logo appearing at press conferences.

However, the RCMP apparently kiboshed that idea.