Karl Toulouse is currently the primary statistician for the Toronto Raptors, a role he’s held since the Raptors started in 1995, working over 700 games at the NBA level. This season however, Toulouse finds himself with another new, yet familiar role, serving as the primary statistician for the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada,
“If I were to sum it up in one word, it’s been ‘exciting’ right from the very beginning,” Toulouse said about the chance to work with another expansion professional basketball team in Canada.
Although his role with the Lightning is simplified compared to the Toronto Raptors, there is nothing simple about doing statistics. Toulouse spends about 90% of the game watching his screen and listening to his callers – who in London include another Wallaceburg native Brenda Schultz – and very little time actually watching the game. As well, the statistics he compiles are critical for scouts, coaches, and the league itself,
“It gives the coaches the statistics they need to evaluate performance in each quarter as well as at the end of the game,” Toulouse explained about his role.
When you talk to Toulouse, he’ll tell you entering statistics wasn’t necessarily the plan, but that he “kind of fell into it.” Toulouse grew up playing basketball in Wallaceburg, and later at Sault College in the OCAA. After moving to Seneca College though, Toulouse found himself the odd man out on the team, but he couldn’t give up the game.
“My playing days ended, but I couldn’t let go of the game, I was so passionate about it,” Toulouse recalls about his playing days ending at Seneca College. “I told the coach, ‘I have to do something for this team, I need to be a part of it, I can’t let go of the game, and being a fan just won’t do it for me.’ That’s when the coach, Ernie Armstrong, asked me if I could do statistics.”
Since that day, Toulouse has been compiling numbers and statistics at a variety of levels, and also remains involved in the game as an official. Although he’s been working in the NBA for almost two decades, Toulouse is again excited by the chance to be a part of something special in London with the Lightning, and he thinks the entertainment value and quality of basketball in the NBL of Canada is exceptional,
“When you’ve worked at the NBA level, I’ve seen the best of the best globally, but now with this league starting in it’s infancy in Canada, I think this is such a great start, it’s the right idea, and it’s a great level of basketball.”
“This league is going in the right direction. If we can expand to attract more players, and draw more fans at the gate, I think we’re in for a very wonderful surprise.”
Not only are the London Lightning providing a fresh start for basketball players and fans, but for Toulouse, who enjoys his 10-minute commute to the John Labatt Centre, and again finds himself excited to go to work,
“In the early days with the Raptors, I couldn’t wait to get there for the game,” said Toulouse. “Here in London, I have that same excitement. I want to be here, there is something about this environment that really is exciting. They want to sell the game in this country and in this city. I am really enjoying it.”