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NBA

Muggsy Bogues believes Vince Carter and the Raptors helped put basketball in Canadians' DNA

#muggsy bogues

The Toronto Raptors embarked on their 24th season on Wednesday with a 116-104 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was a start to one of the most anticipated seasons in Raptors' history - one with lofty expectations.

Former Raptor Muggsy Bogues took time to reminisce on opening night about the franchise's growth and the development of basketball in Canada.

"It was special man," Bogues told NBA.com. "You know playing with Vince (Carter), T-Mac (Tracy McGrady) as young as they were and the veterans that we had on the team…(Charles) Oakley, myself, Dell (Curry), Antonio Davis and Kevin Willis that was just an honour man - it was special for us to be able to be the first to make the playoffs and bring some excitement to that town."

Bogues was a part of the Raptors' first-ever playoff team in 1999-00 - a team that helped kickstart one of the league's most passionate fanbases.

The Raptors had a 45-37 record and finished with the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They were swept by the third seed Knicks in the first round best of five series. Bogues told NBA.com that he believes it was that moment coupled with the stardom of Vince Carter that helped the game grow in the country.

13 Canadians were on an NBA roster to begin opening night this season, a record 133 Canadians will be on NCAA Divison one rosters this season. The numbers continue to rise in participation at the youth level and general interest in the game, that's something that Bogues doesn't see slowing down.

"I always tell Vince that, because Vince really had that impact on the city and kids grew up wanting to be a Vince Carter," Bogues continued.

"There's 13 NBA players in the league now from Canada, it's remarkable and the sky still is the limit. There's so much talent with the young kids - R.J. Barrett who's going to Duke.

"Look what happens in terms of when kids get the information and you give them another avenue in terms of what they've been accustom to which up there was hockey and soccer, but right now basketball is in their DNA and they'll be able to take as far as they're able too."

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