Montreal Gazette

Former NBAER Anthony finding new ways to share love of basketball in Montreal

GM of CEBL'S Alliance hopes to grow, inspire next generation of local talent

- JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

Joel Anthony still fondly remembers all the veteran players who helped him through his NBA career and the local stars who inspired him as a young kid growing up in Montreal.

Now he wants to do the same. Anthony played 10 seasons in the NBA, winning two championsh­ips with the Miami Heat, but is now the general manager of the Canadian Elite Basketball League's Montreal Alliance. He said that one of his motivation­s for getting involved in the summer-season pro league is to showcase high-level profession­al basketball in the Montreal area and inspire the next generation of Nba-calibre talent.

“That was honestly a big reason that I wanted to be a part of this is because of the impact that it could possibly have on our basketball community in Montreal,” Anthony said. “We've always felt Montreal has always been more of an underdog city and you see it with the type of players that have come out of here.

“They haven't received as much notoriety coming in. A lot of undrafted guys, or guys that people just didn't know much about.”

Anthony points to current and former Nbaers like Samuel Dalembert, Khem Birch, Chris Boucher and Lu Dort as examples of unheralded players from the Montreal area. Only recently, with the emergence of Bennedict Mathurin, has the perception of Montreal seemingly changed.

“Now you're at the point where you have someone like Ben that's coming in straight through the front door,” said Anthony, noting that Mathurin was drafted sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2022 NBA draft. “To me, that was huge, because you see this progressio­n of players coming from our city and I think it's great to see for the fans.

“Now with the Alliance, what you're able to have is really high-level basketball where before it was, really just like Usports, it was just university basketball.”

Boucher, who is now a forward with the Toronto Raptors, said that seeing Anthony's career path made him realize that becoming an NBA player was a possibilit­y for him.

“(Anthony) was playing with Lebron James and that was during that time when I was trying to figure it out if I wanted to play basketball or not,” said Boucher, sitting at his locker in Scotiabank Arena. “Seeing him and the impact that he had, and it's not like he was shooting the ball or whatever, but he was really an anchor defensivel­y and getting rebounds and he won two championsh­ips.

“So I was like, `OK, he did it once, he did it twice,' it really showed a lot of people in Montreal that we could find a way to get there.”

Although Boucher feels that Anthony opened the door to him and other future Nbaers, they didn't actually meet until Boucher's career was well underway. Anthony's hope is that the Alliance's presence in Montreal will create a centralize­d basketball community, instead of people forging their own paths.

“They could share in a moment, maybe network, have ideas, and just be here for the love of the game,” said Anthony. “That's why the name is so perfect with the Alliance where we can combine all this and give everyone an outlet to enjoy and express this game at a high level.”

Free agency begins at the start of February in the CEBL, with the season beginning on May 21. Montreal's campaign starts on May 23 when it visits the Vancouver Bandits.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Alliance GM Joel Anthony, left, seen in his playing days with the Miami Heat, says he remembers the local stars who inspired him while growing up in Montreal.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Alliance GM Joel Anthony, left, seen in his playing days with the Miami Heat, says he remembers the local stars who inspired him while growing up in Montreal.

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