National Basketball Association (NBA) Marks 75 Years with Canadian Retail Initiative

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a long-standing connection to Canada and this year to celebrate the 75th year of that relationship the league has launched a special retail experience for fans in the country.

NBA 75th Shop,” is a new digital retail experience for fans in Canada that pays tribute to the iconic players and moments that have shaped the growth of basketball and the NBA across the country in celebration of the league’s 75th Anniversary Season.

Fans have been invited to sign up to get notified of ‘drops’ of products throughout the season. There will be 12 of them of 75 units or less of various products that commemorate a specific moment in NBA history.

For example, the first drop was November 1 and included a three-pack of NBA mini courts. Each mini court is printed on official hardwood from the 2011 NBA All-Star Game that was played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The original design was painted on the product from the first court in 1946 which was the NBA’s inaugural season with the first game held in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 1, 1946, when the Toronto Huskies played the New York Knickerbockers. 

Image: NBA 75th Shop Mini Courts

The product design also included the first court that the Toronto Raptors used in 1995 and the first court the Vancouver Grizzlies used in 1995. 

Leah MacNab

“The NBA 75th Shop is an ecommerce experience for fans in Canada and it’s really designed to both celebrate iconic people and moments in Canadian history during the NBA’s 75 years,” said Leah MacNab, Managing Director for the NBA in Canada.

“We managed to sell out that first 75-unit run in less than a minute.”

MacNab said the initiative will run for the entire NBA season with drops until June. She said a total of 13 products will be delivered over the 12 moments.

“We’re really excited. We’re celebrating everything from that first game at Maple Leaf Gardens to Dr. James Naismith who was a Canadian and invented the game all the way to big moments in Raptors’ history in addition to other Canadian players that have made big names for themselves throughout our 75-year history,” she said.

Image: NBA 75th Shop

Those moments will be released on

Through the NBA 75th Shop, the league will unveil 13 new, custom-designed products that will initially be released in limited quantities of 75 units or less, at key moments throughout the 2021-22 season.  Five products will be sold for $75 or less.  Fans can visit to register their interest and stay up to date on new product releases and on-sale dates.

Products in the NBA 75th Shop will celebrate these iconic players and moments:

  • Canadian Dr. James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball in 1891;
  • The inaugural seasons of the Toronto Raptors, Vancouver Grizzlies and the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the precursor to the NBA;
  • Wilson, the official NBA game ball for the league’s first 37 seasons, including the NBA’s first-ever game, held in Toronto in 1946.  Wilson has returned as the new game ball partner, beginning with the 2021-22 season;
  • The NBA Drafts in Toronto (1995) and Vancouver (1998), the first NBA Drafts to be held outside the U.S.;
  • The long-standing tradition of NBA games on Christmas Day;
  • Two-time NBA MVP, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and Canadian Steve Nash, the current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.  Nash is a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team;
  • Eight-time NBA All-Star and former Toronto Raptor Vince Carter;
  • Former NBA player Damon Stoudamire, the Raptors’ first-ever draft pick in 1995;
  • Current players Aaron Gordon (Denver Nuggets) and Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), the two finalists from the 2016 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest in Toronto, the first NBA All-Star to be held outside the U.S.;
  • The game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals that sent the Raptors to the franchise’s first NBA Finals; and
  • The Raptors’ first NBA Championship in 2019, which marked the first NBA Championship for a team based in Canada.

“Reflecting on my time playing in Canada, I was fortunate to witness the passion that Canadians fans have for basketball and the NBA,” said former Raptors guard and current Boston Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire.  “It’s an honour to be recognized among this group of iconic players and Canadian basketball moments, and I hope fans across the country share my excitement around this ‘mighty’ piece of history.”

The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming available in 215 countries and territories in more than 50 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 100,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.

“This retail experience is unique in that we created it essentially as a digital pop-up. So in the same way you might imagine a shoe drop in basketball culture, we’re doing an NBA history drop with the physical product, 12 times in our season this year,” said MacNab.

“Essentially at the end of the season this experience will go away. So it is a digital pop-up for lack of a better term.”

The NBA has several licence partners across Canada including retail giants such as SportChek and Canadian Tire to specialty, niche retailers.

Image: NBA 75th Shop

“Our retail revenues have risen about 17 per cent  on average over the last five years. We have about 50 plus active licensees in Canada so that would be everything from jerseys to hats to pen sets and stationery for back to school,” she said. “Net total we don’t really share the absolute numbers but . . . anecdotally probably NBA products have been outperforming other licensed leagues in the last year and a half and that’s something that we’re hoping to capitalize on and grow even more in the upcoming years.”

In 2019, the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship.

MacNab said the championship run that year was a “massive” moment. It became a pop culture moment across Canada. 

“We have grown our fan base to about 17 million fans in Canada and what I loved about the run was not just that everyone that could get their hands on Raptors’ products were selling it but we saw fans from right across the country support the Toronto Raptors and do it in a very public way,” she said.

“So to go back to that moment in 2019 we saw upwards of 40 cities across the country do their own versions of Jurassic Park, which was something that for me really had symbolized the inclusiveness of basketball and the fact that there really is a place for every Canadian in the game of basketball. So whether you’re bouncing a ball yourself or you’re a spectator at home or in one of our stadiums we are really a game that can embrace every single Canadian.”

The NBA and Nike also recently unveiled all-new 2021-22 Nike NBA City Edition uniforms in honour of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary season on the anniversary of the first-ever NBA game played between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Huskies (November 1, 1946). The 2021-22 Nike NBA City Edition uniforms will be available for sale on Monday, November 15 at, and select retailers globally.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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