Basketball Leagues in Canada

It may be hard to believe, but Canadians have a solid game in terms of basketball. The game itself has been around since the late 1890s to early 1900s, and some of the teams have given the NBA a run for their money. So, let’s cut to the chase – what leagues do the Canadian teams play in?

Major Leagues

The Canadians play in the NBA and that is the only major league they are involved in. The Toronto Raptors made a name for themselves in this league. The only other Canadian team that played in the NBA were the Vancouver Grizzlies, but they relocated and became Memphis Grizzlies a while back.

Another major league that bore witness to the Canadian basketball prowess was the Basketball Association of America. In 1949 it merged with the NBL to create the NBA. The NBA now recognizes the BAA as a part of its history but ignores the old NBL.

Minor Leagues

Though the NBA remains the most recognizable basketball league in the world, Canada has its own fair share of minor basketball leagues. Here they are.

NBL Canada

Since 2011, Canada has been home to the National Basketball League of Canada or Ligue Nationale de basketball du Canada for the French-speaking population. It started when three Canadian teams were unhappy with the system in the Premier Basketball League and were trying to create something new.

The Rainmen, the Rats, and the Kebs were the pioneers of this league. They were soon followed by the Lightning, the Miracles, the Storm, and the Power. While there were no divisions originally, the league eventually got two of them: the Atlantic Division and the Central Division.


The Canadian Elite Basketball League has been under construction for a while now, but we are about to witness its impressive lineups. The league owes its existence to the idea that basketball fans should not be deprived of nice action on the court during the spring and summer months, when there aren’t many games.

So far, the league has confirmed six teams. The Rattlers, the Stingers, the Bandits, the Honey Badgers, the Lions, and the Nighthawks are going to face off against one another starting the spring of 2019. We hope to see great things from them.


The American Basketball Association is one of the few leagues that feature both the Canadians and the Americans. It is a semi-professional minor league that is about 20 years old. It boasts seven divisions, each with their own number of teams, from four in the South Central Division to thirteen in the Far West Division. Coincidentally, the latter is the division in which the only active Canadian team, the Vancouver Dragons, play.


Basketball in Canada has always been right by the US side. Though the teams have not been able to keep up in terms of sheer numbers, there is no denying that their skills, spirit, and talent are a force to be reckoned with. It is a shame that Canada had to see many of its fine teams defunct or relocated, but those that remain, like the Lightning and the Raptors, make this sport well-worth watching.

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