Welcome to our Canadian Pioneer series.
Each week throughout the month of April we'll be celebrating one of the pioneers of our game. The ones who helped elevate the game in our country. The ones who broke through glass ceilings and walked through closed doors. The names in the game, that should never be forgotten.
This week, we highlight Ron Crevier.
The 1983 NBA Draft saw five Canadians selected in the 10 round draft.
Among those Canadians picked in the 1983 draft was Ron Crevier.
Crevier a 7-foot, 235-pound big man out of Montreal, Quebec went in the fourth round, 75th overall to the Chicago Bulls. Before him, there were very few Canadians who made it to the NBA. The pool of Montrealers to make it to the league was even smaller and the number of French Canadians was non-existent before Crevier.
Making it as a Canadian was a badge of honour for Crevier, but making it as a French Canadian was something he was very proud of.
"The fact that there was no (French Canadians) before me, there was no (French Canadian) that got even recruited to an American university - even going into the Canadian national team. Everything was a first step, everything was an honour, everything was completely new," Crevier told NBA.com.
"And I guess it gave an opportunity because basketball in the French community wasn't really known too much in those days."
Crevier's basketball journey began later in life. He didn't grow up playing the game in the neighbourhoods of Montreal or on a club or AAU team. In fact, like many Canadians, hockey was his sport of choice. Crevier was also a baseball player, playing in Montreal's junior league.
As Crevier grew he began to outgrow the game he loved - literally. As his height increased, his playing time decreased, ultimately leading him to give up his childhood passion. After taking a year off from hockey, Crevier would eventually go to Dawson College - the famed Montreal CEGEP - to play. He attempted to pull double duty by trying out for Dawson's hockey team and a junior A hockey team at the same time. He would end up being cut from both teams, leaving him sport-less.
But that moment led to a career no one saw coming, in a game Crevier had never played.
Dawson's head basketball coach Andy Mezey received a call from the very same hockey coach that just cut Crevier and told him that there's a 7-footer walking around campus that might be worth taking a look at. Crevier joined the basketball team midseason having never played the game in an organized fashion. A year and a half later, Crevier would be a freshman at Boston College.
Crevier earned the scholarship after impressing former Maryland coach and Hall of Famer Gary Williams - who was an assistant at Boston College at the time - to offer him a scholarship after seeing him play once.
Crevier played sparingly during his freshman and sophomore years. The learning curve of the game put him behind his fellow American teammates, but he was also behind many of the upperclassmen who had already established themselves on the team prior to his arrival.
"I would get some garbage time and the thing is, I was always producing," Crevier said. "Coach had offered me a redshirt my freshman year, and my father and I, we kind of decided that we would just go for it and try my best and learn as I go.
"The American players, obviously, were way, way ahead of me, and I had to play catch up all the time. So my whole time at Boston College was catching up to the Americans."
Crevier would eventually redshirt his junior year in the 1980-81 season, but when he came back for his final two years of eligibility, he helped the Eagles reach the Elite Eight in 1982 and win the Big East regular-season title in 1983 before leaving school and turning pro.
While being drafted to the NBA and having a pro basketball career was a major accomplishment for Crevier, playing for the National Team truly was an honour. Crevier earned a spot on the 1982 World Championship roster, joining the likes of Leo Rautins, Bill Wennington and Jay Triano. And while the team ended the tournament with a sixth-place finish, it remains as one of the country's most talent-laden rosters - one that featured six future Canadian Basketball Hall of Famers.
"It was so much talent on the team - guys like Leo Rautins, Stewart Granger, Bill Wennington," Crevier continued. "I really, really liked Leo Rautins as a player, people don't understand how good this guy was. I mean, he was absolutely amazing."
"I think the fact that he got his knee injuries, he had several operations kind of limited obviously his career in the NBA, but if it wasn't for his knees he would've had a career for a decade easy. He was, he was really an amazing player.
"It was an amazing experience. We didn't do well in Colombia, we finished six, but yet the tournament right before we played in Knoxville, Tennessee - we beat the US, we beat the Yugoslavians, we destroyed the Chinese.
"And it was a really good tournament ... it was a packed house with NBA scouts. And everybody did really really well and then we went to Colombia and things just went sour.
"We didn't play as well as we could have played."
Crevier played pro in Europe, playing in Spain, France and Switzerland before calling it quits on his playing career. He enjoyed his time in Europe and was very close to becoming a naturalized player for a French team. In his own words, Crevier lacked the confidence and conditioning to really earn a spot in the NBA.
While he spent a few years away from the game, his love for basketball hasn't diminished. Crevier currently serves as an assistant coach for the Women's basketball team at Bishop's University, where he's focussed on helping the next generation develop.
"I'm just going to keep on giving what I can give," Crevier said. "And if I can help a few players to get better, that's going to be my goal.
"And hopefully, I can help improve the team enough that we can get to the national championship.
"That's what I'm hoping for and I'll try and give and help out as much as I can - the players and coach (Craig) Norman and continue where I can still continue.
"Once that curtain falls well, that will be it."
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