From 1995-2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies had an extremely hard time getting top draft picks and free agents to play in Canada. Many fans remember Steve Francis being traded to Houston after not wanting to play for Vancouver when they drafted him in 1999, but actually a year before that the franchise almost had a similar situation with #2 pick Mike Bibby.
(Via KJ LIVE):
“I don’t want to sound like I didn’t like Vancouver, but being 19, 20 years old going to live in a different country was scary for me. When I knew that the Clippers were going to take Olowokandi, Vancouver already said they were going to draft me next and I remember looking out the window like, ‘I never dreamt of playing in Canada.’ It was scary for me. I had a family, a newborn son, I was 20 years old moving to a different country. I was a mama’s boy, so I was kind of scared.
“I told Stu Jackson and Brian Hill that, ‘Nothing against the city, nothing against your team, nothing against you guys, but as a kid I grew up dreaming of playing in the NBA in the States. I don’t want you guys to pick me.’ They were like, ‘Well, we’re going to pick you anyway.’ I didn’t want to do the Steve Francis thing and everybody hate me anyway, but I think it worked out for the best and I had three good seasons there.”