Crowds at a basketball game

Scotiabank Arena | Destination Ontario

Inside Ontario’s basketball culture

Crowds at a basketball game

Scotiabank Arena | Destination Ontario

Basketball has strong roots in Canada, with the sport invented by Canadian James Naismith in 1891.

The excitement of basketball in Ontario extends far beyond the court. There are many ways to get involved in the sport, from watching live games featuring the pros to collecting merchandise from your favourite team. You can even cheer on the home team in a sports-themed restaurant with basketball decor. Connect with other passionate fans and experience Ontario's slam dunk basketball scene like a local.

Ontario’s basketball legacy

Basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian physical education teacher Dr. James Naismith, who created this indoor sport to keep his athletes in shape during freezing winters. His early concept of “basket ball” used peach baskets, a soccer ball and 13 rules for the 18 players to follow. Players scored points by throwing the ball into the peach basket, at which point the janitor would use a ladder to retrieve the ball.

Throughout the 20th century, the sport’s popularity grew in North America and around the world. Its widespread appeal helped establish basketball in various American colleges and led to it becoming an official Olympic sport in 1936. In 1946, the NBA was founded, expanding into a multi-billion dollar industry.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup is an international basketball competition. The winning team is awarded the coveted Naismith Trophy.

The legacy of Dr. James Naismith lives on in Almonte, Ontario where he grew up. A bronze statue of this famous inventor was built in 2011. You can see the James Naismith Statue in Almonte’s quaint square at 73 Mill Street, Almonte. Visit the picturesque town of Almonte in the summer to learn more about Dr. Naismith at the R. Tait McKenzie and Dr. James Naismith Museum, located in Mill of Kintail Conservation Area.

Rally behind the NBA’s Toronto Raptors

The NBA is North America’s premier professional basketball league. Running every year from October to April, the NBA season consists of 30 teams, including the Toronto Raptors, who compete for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. A standard NBA basketball game is about 2–2.5 hours long, as games are split into four 12-minute quarters with numerous timeouts in between.

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors was founded in 1995 when the NBA expanded into Canada and became the league’s only Canadian team when the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis. Thanks to the Raptors’ numerous playoff wins in its history and a historic NBA championship victory in 2019, the team has won over countless loyal fans and established basketball as a viable sport to watch and play in Canada.

Many great basketball players have played for the Raptors and helped fuel fans’ passion for the sport, including Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.

Where to buy Raptors tickets

Watch the Raptors’ games at the Scotiabank Arena on 40 Bay Street, the best place to catch a Toronto basketball game. Buy Toronto Raptors tickets at

Whenever the Toronto Raptors advance to the playoffs, Jurassic Park opens up outside Scotiabank Arena. Thousands of devoted Raptors fans flock to this free, large outdoor courtyard to root for Toronto’s team

Exciting ways to support basketball

There is so much to be proud of when it comes to basketball in Ontario. Get in on the action and join the fun.

Get tickets to see the Raptors 905

Tickets for the Toronto Raptors are in high demand and can be hard to get. If you can’t score NBA tickets, consider going to a Raptors 905 game.

The Raptors 905 is part of the NBA G League, the official minor league of the NBA. Named after the local area code of the Greater Toronto Area suburbs, the Raptors 905 is the first NBA G team based outside of the U.S. Boasting the second-best season record in the G League’s history, the Raptors 905 have produced many skilled basketball players who went on to play for NBA teams.

Witness the Raptors 905 in action at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, located at 5500 Rose Cherry Place. Get tickets for the Raptors 905 through Ticketmaster.

Shop for basketball merchandise

Buy your favourite player’s Toronto Raptors basketball jersey or a custom Raptors jersey from Real Sports Apparel, the team’s official gear shop. This shop is conveniently located inside the Scotiabank Arena’s Galleria, making it the perfect stop before the big game. If you can’t find what you need, check the Sport Chek situated on the other side of Maple Leaf Square or various locations across Ontario.

If you would prefer to order your NBA Raptors jersey online, the NBA Store offers a wide selection of Raptors apparel. Sport Army in Mississauga also provides great deals on a variety of Raptors clothing, hats, jerseys and more. Peace Collective also carries cool fan apparel.

Cheer with Drake, the Raptors’ global ambassador

Renowned Canadian rapper, singer and songwriter Drake was named the Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador in 2013. Since then, he has become a familiar presence at Raptors home games, cheering on the team from courtside and displaying his love for the city and the team.  

Fellow superfan Nav Bhatia helps generate the community spirit on and off of the basketball court.

Buy OVO merch

Drake also owns the popular OVO brand and fashion label, which stands for “October’s Very Own” as a reference to Drake’s birth month of October. Recognized by its distinctive owl logo, this hip-hop clothing and merchandise line has several locations in Ontario, including Yorkdale Mall in Toronto, Square One in Mississauga and Rideau Centre in Ottawa.

Watch the game at a basketball-themed restaurant

Keep the electric momentum alive at a basketball-themed restaurant with fellow fans.

NBA Courtside Restaurant

Located on Toronto's waterfront just south of Scotiabank Arena, the NBA Courtside Restaurant is a popular spot where Raptors fans gather to celebrate their shared love of the game.

Custom basketball-themed art and furnishings decorate over 900 square metres of premium space. From iconic autographed sneakers to tables cut from real, game-used NBA courts, these rare items will immerse you in basketball’s rich history and culture.

Get in on the action by eating in the “Court” area, which features nine HD TVs and a 4.5-metre video wall. Or dine surrounded by commemorative basketball art in the adult “Champion” dining room—this area’s gold fixtures and brass table accents are inspired by the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

While waiting for the game to start, warm up with appetizers like the Ultimate Game Time Pretzel, garlic truffle fries or spiced cauliflower tacos. Led by Top Chef Canada winner Erica Karbelnik, the restaurant’s ambassador chef, Courtside Restaurant’s globally inspired menu offers delicious entrees such as courtside wings, grilled tahini caesar salad, Philly pizza and miso salmon. Wash down your meal with draft beer or colourful cocktails.

You can even shop NBA merchandise like apparel, glassware and stationery from the restaurant’s on-site boutique retail store and order your items directly to your table.

Location: 15 Queens Quay East #101, Toronto

Last updated: May 8, 2024

Looking for Ontario travel advice?

Our experts are here to help you plan your perfect trip. Call or book today.