The Hamilton franchise of the new Canadian Elite Basketball League unveiled its team name and logo on Tuesday. Wearing the Black and Gold colours emblematic of the city’s major sports franchises, the Hamilton Honey Badgers will take the court at FirstOntario Centre in May of 2019 for the inaugural CEBL season.
“As a proud Hamiltonian all my life I am extremely happy to be helping to bring a professional basketball franchise to my hometown,” said Mike Morreale, chief executive officer of the CEBL. “The Honey Badgers will add to a rich history of sports in this city that dates back to 1869 when the Hamilton Football Club was formed. We will bring high caliber basketball to a city that is passionate about the sport, and just as importantly we will deliver an exceptional family-friendly entertainment experience that will enrich the quality of life in our community.”
Hamilton joins other announced teams in the Guelph Nighthawks and the Niagara River Lions, the latter of which joins the league from the National Basketball League of Canada. Teams from Edmonton, Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), and Fraser Valley (Abbotsford) are still to be announced as the founding members of the CEBL.
John Lashway, who brings 22 years of senior management experience in the National Basketball Association and 10 in the National Hockey League, has been appointed President of the Honey Badgers.
“I came to Canada in 1995 to help launch the Toronto Raptors franchise and grow the sport of basketball in this country. Since then Canada has become my home, and basketball has grown to heights few imagined possible,” Lashway said. “For me there is no greater honour than having the responsibility to lead the Hamilton Honey Badgers and to deliver exceptional entertainment to the people of our communities.”
The honey badger has been called the world’s most fearless animal. It is strong, tough, intelligent, persistent, and difficult to deter. Its image befits the city of Hamilton and the surrounding region, where strength was built from steel and the people who made it; a city eager to engage in the challenges of revitalization, fearless in determining its future, and intelligent in its approach.
“The honey badger has been one of the most popular internet memes in recent years,” Lashway added. “It’s a unique brand image that reflects the style of basketball I want our team to play, and it will resonate with people of all ages.”
Lashway also serves as the CEBL’s Executive Vice President, Strategy & Communications and is engaged in all aspects of the league’s business.
A sports, business and community leader out of McMaster University, Morreale played 12 seasons in the Canadian Football League, including eight with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was awarded the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 1998, Grey Cup Canadian MVP in 1999, and in 2000 was honoured with the Tom Pate Memorial Award for outstanding sportsmanship and contributions to his team, community, and association. Morreale was elected President of the CFLPA in 2012.