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Montreal almost had an NBA team in the 1940s

Mayoral candidate Balarama Holness hopes to finally bring the NBA to Montreal after this false start.

Long before the Raptors, Toronto had another basketball team. The Huskies were founded in 1946 and participated in the first-ever NBA game. The Huskies folded in 1947 after a single season. What many people do not know, however, is that the NBA team once considered moving to Montreal.

The 2020 coffee table book RPTRS 25YRS: A Celebration of the Toronto Raptors (by Damien Cox and Andrew Podnieks) breaks down Toronto’s basketball history before the incarnation of the Raptors in 1995. They highlight the failures of the Huskies, who considered a new city before ultimately folding.

“By the end of the year, only the Boston Celtics were as bad, and they weren’t bleeding money like the Huskies were. ‘The fans just weren’t ready for basketball,’ [player Hank] Biasatti told the Toronto Sun years later. After an estimated $150 000 in losses and talk of relocating to Montreal, the badly organized Huskies were ‘cancelled.'”

If elected, mayoral candidate Balarama Holness hopes to at long last bring an NBA team to Montreal. “Over the past few years, we have seen a resurgence of interest in basketball across the region, which was undoubtedly accelerated by the recent Toronto Raptors championship,” he explained via a press release. “This has given a solid foundation to this sport, which is experiencing unprecedented international growth.”

On Nov. 1, the NBA will celebrate its 75th anniversary. The Toronto Raptors will face the New York Knicks in the first regular season NBA game, which was played by the two cities in 1946.

For more Montreal sports coverage, please visit the Sports section.