Canadian team Toronto Raptors are actively taking the lead after defeating Milwaukee Bucks during the eastern conference finals and winning two games against reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Tensions are growing for the remaining NBA playoffs between the Raptors and the Warriors as Canadians all over the country unite.
Many basketball fans and supporters from Canada are fueled with excitement about the success of the Toronto Raptors. They continue to show their support by putting up banners of “We The North” and spreading the love to all of Canada. Teams from the eastern conferences, as well as some teams that lost against the Golden State Warriors, are showing their support for the Raptors.
How the Raptors Made the Cut
It was Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri who brought glory to his team and for Canada. The Raptors were once called “LeBronto” after the Canadian team lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers thrice in a row for three years. Ujiri made the call and fired former Toronto Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey. Subsequently, he traded in the Raptor’s NBA All-Star player DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, which was bold and controversial.
Despite the risk of losing a big-time player, Toronto Raptors were able to reap the rewards thanks to Leonard. He brought iconic moments for the team, including his last-minute shot against Philadelphia 76ers and his dunk over Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo during game six of the eastern conference finals. Recently, the Golden State Warriors lost their first finals game match against Toronto Raptors. It was also the first official NBA championship playoff outside the U.S. in history.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet shared his thoughts about the recent games, “We went into it expecting a dog fight. Yes, we won game 1, and everybody outside the locker room was a lot more excited than we were. We understand what this team brings and what type of effort it is going to take to beat these guys.”
Reminiscing About the Past
After the expansion initiative of the NBA to Canada, two Canadian basketball teams were formed. Out of the two groups, only the Toronto Raptors remained as a representative of Canadian basketball in the NBA. In 1995, Toronto’s founding basketball players included Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, and Damon Stoudamire who eventually found the spotlight in the playoffs. Masai Ujiri was hired to the team in 2013, and Dwane Casey started fueling the Raptors for better performance in the playoffs. Among the players who stood out in the Raptors were Kyle Lowry and DeRozan.
In 2015, Toronto Raptors started to build their own brand with the signature slogan “We The North,” which highlighted Toronto Raptors as the only outsiders to compete in the NBA. Alongside their campaign was Canadian rapper Drake who represented the team as the global ambassador.
The team has been struggling for over twenty years, but they are at the peak of success this year. Ujiri should be credited for his role and contributions to the Canadian basketball team. The only struggle that the Raptors need to defeat is the Golden State Warriors. Despite claiming victory during the first game, the Golden State Warriors grabbed the tie on the second game during the third quarter of the match. Nick Nurse reacted and said that “the ball was not bouncing our way at all.”
Enormous Love from Basketball Fans and the City of Toronto
Toronto has been flooded with a sea of Raptors fans in “Jurassic Park,” an open area by Scotiabank Arena, during the championship playoffs between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors have Drake to thank for the fighting spirit that was felt mutually among the Canadians. The support of fans for Raptor outside the arena was also broadcasted across televisions in Canada and the world.
Digital Media Communications reported that ticket purchases skyrocketed, while about 3.5 million viewers watched the opening game of the NBA finals or about 10 percent of the Canadian population. Tickets were sold out during the first two matches between the east conference and west conference champions. At StubHub, tickets for seats in the arena were sold at about $600 and above. Bar owners in Toronto also gained about 28 percent more of profits during the recent east conference playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks and the championship matches between Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, according to remittance brokerage company Moneris.
Canadian entertainment company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment are keeping their eyes on the Toronto Raptors. Aside from the basketball team, the company also owns Toronto FC and the Maple Leafs hockey team. It is worth noting that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment did not flourish and fell behind the shadow of Canadian baseball team Toronto Blue Jays until it founded its hockey team in 1967. Thanks to the excellent performance that the Toronto Raptors have been displaying, the basketball industry has gained more value than the hockey team. Forbes estimated an amount of about $1.7 million in favor of the Toronto Raptors as opposed to the estimated value of $1.5 million for the Canadian ice hockey team.
Toronto Raptors are leasing by two points against the Golden State Warriors who won one out of three championship playoffs. Tensions are growing as unease between both sides continues, but the Raptors seem to have the edge and home advantage of claiming the NBA throne for this series.