Team Canada men’s basketball ready to compete at first Olympic Games since 2000

Paris 2024 is set to be a memorable Olympic Games for Team Canada basketball fans. For the first time in 24 years, Canada will send both men’s and women’s basketball teams to the Olympic tournaments. Not only that, both teams are star-studded and competitive. Canada’s men’s roster features 11 players with NBA experience.

Last summer, Canada captured a historic bronze medal – the country’s first ever medal at a FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup  – with a 127-118 win over the United States. In the game, Dillon Brooks’ 39 points set a FIBA World Cup record for most points scored in a medal-winning game and a Senior Men’s National Team scoring record for most points in a single game.

Overall, Canada went 6-2 in the World Cup tournament, including key victories over several top-five ranked federations. Eight players from Canada’s bronze medal-winning team have been selected to represent Canada this summer in Paris. 

One of those key wins came against Spain in the second round. With a 88-85 victory, Canada not only advanced to the quarterfinals, but qualified for Paris 2024 as one of the top two teams from the Americas region at the 2023 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup. 

Canadian basketball players shake hands with each other during a game
Kelly Olynyk, RJ Barrett, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in an exhibition game ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. (Canada Basketball/Muad Issa)

Team captain Kelly Olynyk has played 756 games across 11 seasons in the NBA. Internationally, Olynyk has been a member of Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team since 2010, when he made his debut at the 2010 FIBA World Championship at just 19 years old. Olynyk currently plays at home in Canada for the Toronto Raptors.

“Leading our Senior Men’s National Team into the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is an incredible honour,” said Olynyk. “Since I began playing basketball, my dream has always been to represent Canada at the Olympics. Last year’s third-place finish at the FIBA World Cup was an important step, proving that we belong among the world’s best teams. However, it also showed that we still have work to do as we pursue our ultimate goal of winning gold in Paris.”

This summer will also mark the national team return of Denver Nuggets guard and 2023 NBA Champion Jamal Murray. After having committed to Canada Basketball’s summer core with the intention of qualifying for Paris 2024, Murray is thrilled to have the opportunity to wear the Canada jersey once again. At 19-years-old, Murray played on home soil at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, where he tallied 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as Team Canada defeated Team USA to advance to the gold medal final.

A two-time NBA All-Star and All-NBA First Team selection this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returns to represent Canada. He was named to the All-Star Five after averaging 24.5 points per game at last summer’s FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup. When Gilgeous-Alexander steps onto the court in Lille, he’ll become the second Olympian in his family after his mother, Charmaine Gilgeous, represented Antigua and Barbuda in the women’s 400 metres at Barcelona 1992.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dribbles up the court
Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) dribbles up the court during second half FIBA international men’s World Cup basketball qualifying action against Dominican Republic, in Hamilton, Ont., Friday, July 1, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

“SGA” isn’t the only Canadian with Olympic familial ties. Guard RJ Barrett is the son of Rowan Barrett, who captained Canada’s men’s team at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Melvin Ejim joins his  younger sister, Yvonne Ejim, who will suit up on Team Canada’s women’s basketball squad at Paris 2024. 

Canada’s lone Olympic medal in basketball came at Berlin 1936, when it was a much different game. Facing the United States in the final, heavy rain had turned the clay and sand tennis court on which the game was being played into mud, making it difficult to dribble. That contributed to a low score, with the Americans winning 19-8 to give Canada silver. The Canadian inventor of the game, James Naismith, presented the medals. Canada would go on to compete in the next three men’s Olympic basketball tournaments (1948, 1952, 1956). That was followed by appearances in 1964, 1976, 1984, 1988, and 2000. 

“When we opened camp in Toronto last week, I challenged each of the players to improve one percent each day, and every day since I’ve witnessed the work and dedication they have put in,” said head coach Jordi Fernández. “With 17 days to go until our first game of the tournament, that’s an opportunity to get 17% better. From the players to the coaches to the staff, the incredible opportunity ahead of us to do something truly historic for Canada this summer is not lost on anyone.”

Basketball will take place July 27 to August 11. Canada was drawn into Group A and will face Greece on July 27 at 3:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. local time. On July 30, Canada will face Australia at 7:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. local time, before wrapping up the group phase against Spain on August 2  at 11:15 a.m. ET / 5:15 p.m. local time. All group phase games will be played at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille. The men’s quarterfinals begin on August 6 and the tournament will move to the Bercy Arena in Paris for the elimination stage.

Team Canada Men’s Basketball Athletes at Paris 2024:

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Toronto, Ont.)
RJ Barrett (Mississauga, Ont.)
Khem Birch (Montreal, Que.)
Dillon Brooks (Mississauga, Ont.)
Luguentz Dort (Montreal, Que.)
Melvin Ejim (Toronto, Ont.)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, Ont.)
Trey Lyles (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Jamal Murray (Kitchener, Ont.)
Andrew Nembhard (Aurora, Ont.)
Kelly Olynyk (Kamloops, B.C.)
Dwight Powell (Toronto, Ont.)