It all began in 1986 when Steveston High School graduates, Bira Bindra, Taj Johal, Bruce Watson, Tony Wong-Hen, Garth "Rubberman" Robertson, and friends decided that a venue was needed to gather basketball teammates and rivals for a day long tournament. The site was Dolphin Park located near Garden City Road and Francis Road in Richmond. Dolphin had hosted many epic weekend battles and was known to all Richmond basketball gym rats as a summer-time oasis for street ball.
The first tournament wasn’t anything like it is today. There was no three point line (established 1987) and trophies/prizes consisted of a 24 pack of beer, which were consumed by the end of the final. T-shirts, jerseys, and bare skin was spray painted and crowds were made up of family, friends and neighbours. The day long event in 1986 went off without many hitches and thus began the tradition of the Dolphin Park Classic. Now, thousands of fans surround the court and enjoy not only the tournament action, but also the high flying dunk contest and the always popular 3-pt contest.
Throughout the years, the Classic has gone through many changes. It went from a one day tourney to a two day tourney and finally to the current three day format. The tournament set-up also progressed from eight teams, to ten teams to the current twelve team round robin format. Imports, identified as non-Richmond residents and/or persons not born in Richmond, were allowed to play in the Classic initially in 1988. This trend has grown as players and teams from Washington State and California continue to make the trip north to compete.
Top Notch Basketball
Just as the court has gone through changes, the players have done the same. There are only a handful of players left from the first few tournaments. Older players have hung up their sneakers (not necessarily by choice), allowing the younger players to exhibit their skill and court savvy. The caliber of play continues to increase every year as players get bigger, stronger, and faster resulting in a high flying, rim rattling basketball extravaganza. The player list is more impressive than ever and games have become even more intense, competitive and entertaining, making Dolphin one of Canada’s most elite tournament. Tournament now also hosts a Women's division alongside the Men's division.