WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Sea Bears are honoured to add two more accolades after a historic inaugural season. The organization has been named the 2023 CEBL Franchise of the Year, while the team’s president, Jason Smith, has been selected as the Team Executive of the Year, the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced Tuesday afternoon.

“This is truly an award for our city. Our amazing fanbase has come together and created something special in Winnipeg. We continue to be blown away by their support and are committed to creating wonderful experiences for them on and off the court for years to come,” said Smith.  

These awards come shortly after the Sea Bears took home four of six major player/coach awards. In August, the team was honoured with the Most Valuable Player (Teddy Allen), the Sixth Man of the Year (Jelani Watson-Gayle), the U SPORTS Player of the Year (Simon Hildebrandt) and the Coach of the Year (Mike Taylor). 

Today, the CEBL revealed all four 2023 Business Award Winners, which also include the Edmonton Stingers (Community Champion) and Calgary Surge (Digital Excellence).

Award winners were voted on by different variations of groups comprised of league and team executives, including but not limited to the CEBL’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, and all 10 team presidents.



Awarded to the franchise that best represents the values of the CEBL through good internal governance, engagement in the community, commitment to innovation, success on the basketball court and with revenue generation, demonstration of a long-term vision for sustainable business growth, and promotion of Canadian basketball.

Winner: Winnipeg Sea Bears


Awarded to a team executive who best lives the values of the CEBL by leading with integrity and good governance, fosters a positive organizational culture, leads a franchise that has demonstrated success on the basketball court, in the community and with the overall performance and development of their club’s business during the past year, demonstrates a long-term vision to grow their franchise in its market, and contributes to the success of the league beyond their own club while being an inspiration and valued colleague to peers around the CEBL.

Winner: Jason Smith, President, Winnipeg Sea Bears


In the team’s inaugural season in 2023 under the leadership of Owner and Chairman David Asper and President Jason Smith, the Sea Bears set strong roots in Winnipeg setting the franchise up for sustainable long-term growth. The club set multiple CEBL attendance records at Canada Life Centre this summer, including the single-game record of 10,580 fans on August 4 against Edmonton in the Play-In round of the playoffs, the single-game regular season record of 8,230 fans on July 29 against Edmonton, and the full-season attendance record of 65,609 over 11 total games.

“Jason turned every challenge into a solution, maximizing the efforts and creativity of our front office staff to bring professional basketball back to Winnipeg in an outstanding way,” said Asper.

The Sea Bears finished the CEBL season with a 12-8 record which tied for second-best in the entire league and earned the right to host a home playoff game. Their roster featured home-grown talent in Winnipeg-born forwards Chad Posthumus and Simon Hildebrandt who became heavily involved on the court and in the community throughout the season. The club also hosted a series of youth summer camps in partnership with Manitoba Blue Cross, welcoming kids of all ages and genders to join sessions free of charge and receive complimentary gear.

“We’re very honoured and grateful. This success proves that it takes a village, and I want to acknowledge our staff and the league staff who helped us bring the Sea Bears to life in Winnipeg. Equally important, we wouldn’t be successful without our corporate partners and fans. This is our village and once again we say a hearty thanks to all," said Asper


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