It is hard to believe its been 15-years since the Vancouver Grizzlies played their last game in Vancouver. Although the team was not successful on the court, the Grizzlies were successful in growing the game of basketball in Vancouver. A big reason for the popularity was Vancouver Grizzlies all-time leading scorer Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
When the Grizzlies drafted Abdur-Rahim in 1996 with the 3rd overall pick, people knew he would become a special player for the organization. 20-years after he was drafted his popularity is the same as it was when he played in the city. This past weekend Abdur-Rahim was in town for the NBA All-Star skills challenge out at UBC’s Student Rec Centre. Hundreds of people showed up to catch a glimpse of the best player to ever don a Grizzlies jersey. Abdur-Rahim was just as happy as the fans to be back in the city he called home for five years.
“It’s great to be back here” Shareef said with a smile, “a lot of memories, a lot of people I haven’t seen in awhile. When we drove up here we passed through Kitsilano. When I was playing I lived in that area for a few years, so to (kind of) be around, and come through there brought back a lot of memories and to be here kind of where my NBA life started and to come back and kind of help celebrate All-Star weekend in Canada is wonderful”
Who knows what would have happened if the Vancouver Grizzlies stayed but the Toronto Raptors have gladly taken over as Canada’s team across the country. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Abdur-Rahim, who’s impressed by the current Raptors team.
“I really like (DeMar) DeRozen. I think he continues to get better” Shareef continues, “I like (Kyle) Lowry. I think they have a strong team and they do a good job of representing Canada.”
Since Abdur-Rahim retired back in 2008, he’s gone back to his alma mater, California Berkley, to finish his degree. He also runs his own foundation to help at risk youth in Atlanta called the Future Foundation.
There may also be another member of the Abdur-Rahim family soon in the NBA. Abdur-Rahim’s son Jabri is a highly rated 13-year old out of Arizona. Having a dad that’s a former NBA player, one would think that the younger Abdur-Rahim would be getting the best advice about basketball and his future.
“I just tell him if he enjoys playing, play because you love playing, work hard and the rest of the stuff will fall into place.”
No matter what, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and his family will always be welcomed back to Vancouver with open arms. What he did for this city during his playing days and what he continues to do in Vancouver to grow the NBA and basketball is commendable. After all these years there is no better ambassador for the Vancouver Grizzlies than Shareef Abdur-Rahim.