Toronto Raptors win first-ever NBA championship
The Toronto Raptors made history Thursday night, dethroning the Golden State Warriors and winning the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.
The Raptors surged past Golden State in the final few minutes of the game, ending the neck-and-neck matchup at 114-110. Chants of “We the North!” could be heard inside Oracle Arena as the Raptors hoisted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and waved a Canadian flag in centre court.
Kyle Lowry, who scored 26 points and helped the team clinch the win, struggled to find words to describe the feeling.
“It’s surreal. I played basketball to provide for these two,” he said, gesturing to his two sons by his side. “Toronto – Canada -- we bought it home baby! We brought it home.”
The historic victory marks the first time that a team outside the U.S. won the NBA Finals.
Thousands of Canadians celebrated at Jurassic Park viewing parties from coast to coast. In Toronto, rapper Drake – the team’s global ambassador -- partied with revellers outside the Scotiabank Arena. At Yonge and Dundas Square, fans shut down traffic while fireworks rained down from above.
Kawhi Leonard took home the NBA Finals MVP award, his second time winning the honour, and the notoriously poker-faced player finally broke into a smile.
“This is what I play basketball for. This is what I work out for,” Leonard said. “And I’m happy that my hard work paid off.”
Asked whether the championship means that he will stick with the Raptors, Leonard said he still isn’t ready to make a decision.
“I have to enjoy this with my teammates and coaches. And I’ll have to think about that later,” he said.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse commended his team as a “tough-minded group” that embodied the spirit of resilience.
“(They are) a group of guys that really stuck together, fought through some adversity…and we tried to bounce back every time we needed to,” Nurse said.
Lowry and Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in Game 6 with 26 points each, followed by Leonard and Fred VanVleet with 22 points each, while Serge Ibaka scored 15.