Raptors Make History With NBA Win

Raptors celebrate NBA Championships win Source: CNBCFM For the first time ever, a team outside of the United States has won a National Basketball Championship. The Toronto Raptors, who are currently the NBA’s only active Canadian franchise, beat San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors 114-110 in a nail-biting Game 6 on Thursday, 13 June 2019. Since James Naismith, the Massachusetts-based inventor of Basketball, originally hailed from Canada, it seems appropriate that a squad from the country won the Finals at last.

A Truly Thrilling Game

The Warriors were the defending champions, and a win would have been their 3rd Championship title in a row. On top of this, they had home advantage and the emotional pull of playing at Oracle Arena for the last time – they are set to relocate to San Francisco’s Chase Centre next season. Since the Raptors went in with 3 victories to the Dubs’ 2, the Californians had to win this time in order to push a Game 7 and stay in the fight. Even after losing Kevin Durant in Game 5 and Klay Thompson, very dramatically, in Game 6, the Warriors managed to hold on and entered the 4th quarter with a 91-88 lead. However, when right wing Stephen Curry’s 3-pointer was missed in the last 10 seconds, it was too much to recover from. Ultimately, the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard was able to hit the technical free throw, and then get 2 more following a foul on the inbounds. Leonard, who was traded from the San Antonio Spurs in July 2018, is now the third player – after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James – to win Finals MVP for 2 franchises. He’s the undisputed star of the Canadian squad, but team president Masai Ujiri has also made other shrewd acquisitions. Danny Green came in the same trade as Leonard, and was followed by All-Star centre Marc Gasol in February 2019. Ujiri also recruited 2 stellar college game athletes, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, thus creating a superb Raptors squad for recently appointed head coach Nick Nurse.

The Pride of a Nation

There has been a dearth in Canadian wins for the 4 big North American sports leagues for over 2 decades – no NFL, MLB, NHL or, of course, NBA titles have been claimed by Canucks since the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the Major League Baseball World Series in 1993. Now the same city has produced more champions – but the love of the Raptors extends far beyond Toronto’s boundaries. The Ontario squad became the team and hope of the nation during the 2019 NBA Finals. These are the emotional words of the current Mayor of Almonte, a town with a population of 5000, which is over 360 miles outside of Toronto and just happens to be the birthplace of James Naismith. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted “and that’s how we do it in the North” with a Raptors hashtag, and Drake took to Instagram to show his support. The prominent rapper is a team ambassador, but chose to watch Game 6 at home rather than courtside. Drake has been blamed for “the Drake Curse” in the past, where prominent athletes lose big after posing with him – most recently Anthony Joshua –  which might be why he decided to stay away. With the “removal” of the Drake Curse, the litany of Golden State Warriors injuries and the great line-up of talent, it’s really no wonder the Raptors nabbed the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Online casino and sportsbook fans were predicting their victory from the start of play. Raptors take down the Golden State Warriors Source: CDN

The Beleaguered Warriors

The Golden State’s team has been plagued by injuries since DeMarcus Cousins’ torn quadriceps muscle during Game 2 in the first postseason round. Now, with Durant and Thompson out for the next season, coach Steve Kerr describes the impact as “devastating”. The fact that they are leaving their beloved Oracle Arena stomping ground is not thought to be helping either. Other key players are also about to become free agents, and the positionless basketball strategy that has served the squad so well is becoming well known to their opponents. With all these challenges, however, insiders are definitely not ruling the Dubs out. Even with 2 of their stars out with injuries, they played very competitively and just, in the words of forward Draymond Green, “came up a little short”. Curry added that though this Warriors winning streak might be over, he “wouldn’t bet against” his team being back on the Final stage next year.

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