NFB documentary ‘True North’ tracks Toronto’s basketball rise

Toronto is now a hoops hotbed.

The reigning NBA champions play right here and solely america has fed extra gamers than Canada into the world’s finest league up to now decade. The majority of these gamers hail from the Larger Toronto Space, together with two No. 1 general draft picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.


“Proper now, on the basketball entrance, we’re like the largest state in North America (by way of supplying hoops expertise to the subsequent ranges,” says long-time Toronto basketball coach Ro Russell early on in True North, a Nationwide Movie Board documentary which traces the meteoric rise of the game within the GTA. The movie appears at how this occurred and what’s subsequent — particularly, keying on 5 gamers within the earlier, longer model, together with Elijah Fisher, who performs for Crestwood Preparatory in Toronto and, regardless of being simply 15 years outdated, is taken into account a possible future NBA draft choose. Fisher is ranked as the highest participant in his age group on the earth.

True North, directed by Ryan Sidhoo, was filmed from 2017-2018 (Fisher was 12 when it began) and gained two Webby Awards earlier than being re-released in April right into a 90-minute model that includes the Raptors’ unbelievable 2019 title and the ensuing parade and gives some updates on the unique contributors.

Whereas the GTA has been producing expertise that went south to the NCAA or to skilled leagues world wide because the mid-1980s, it was all the time a trickle. In newer years, it’s been a full-scale flood of basketball standouts.


The arrival of the Raptors in 1995 had a lot to do with what has occurred lately. The Raptors gave native youngsters an up-close have a look at what was doable for the primary time. The huge success of Victoria’s Steve Nash and Vince Carter with the Raptors additionally helped spur the basketball motion. Lots of at this time’s NBA gamers say they had been impressed by watching Carter or Nash.

When former Jap Commerce star teammate Jamaal Magloire went 19th general within the 2000 NBA draft, he turned simply the sixth Canadian taken within the first spherical up to now 47 years and the primary from the GTA since Leo Rautins 17 years earlier. Amazingly, there have been 15 since 2011, together with consecutive No. 1 general choices (Bennett from Brampton and Vaughan’s Wiggins) and 2019’s No. three choose R.J. Barrett of Mississauga. Six Canadians have gone within the first spherical in simply the previous three drafts. Of these 15, a dozen hail from the GTA. There have additionally been quite a few second-round choices and undrafted Canadian signees.

Director Sidhoo wished to make it clear although that Canada’s hoops rise shouldn’t simply be measured by way of who will get to the best stage.


“I hope the NBA and basketball trade stops defining ‘making it’ by attending to the league or not,” Sidhoo stated. “That final result is all or nothing and brings harmful consequence as a result of by 16, a child would possibly really feel like a failure if he’s not seen as a future professional. From the highest down, I hope the basketball trade begins preaching the very fact you could be a (basic supervisor) or coach or the rest associated to the sport and nonetheless ‘make it,’ you possibly can nonetheless earn money from basketball with out taking part in it,” Sidhoo stated.

“I hope via the movie that followers of basketball begin to perceive that these youngsters are being commodified at 12 and only for them to get (to the NBA) is such an accomplishment. Followers mustn’t name these guys overpaid after they miraculously beat the percentages, the pitfalls and exploitation to get there. We should always have a good time each participant and their journey.”

The unique sequence is on Youtube