Toronto Raptors
Via @RickMadonik

After defeating the heavily favoured Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champions.




TORONTO RAPTORS DEFEAT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

The Toronto Raptors are the only basketball team in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from Canada.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, the Raptors is a member club of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division.

The Raptors were formed in 1995, alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies, when the NBA expanded to Canada.

The Grizzlies has since moved to Memphis, Tennessee, leaving the Raptors the only Canadian team left in the NBA.

Home games are played at the ScotiaBank Arena in Toronto.




TORONTO RAPTORS EARLY YEARS

The Raptors got off to a rocky start, but acquired Vince Carter in 1998, making the NBA Playoffs for three years from 2000 to 2002.

Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2004.

After Carter’s departure in 2004, Cris Bosh provided leadership to the team, qualifying for the playoffs in 2006.

Bosh left the Raptors for the Miami Heat in 2010.




TORONTO RAPTORS MASAI UJIRI

Dwayne Casey was hired as Head Coach, having served as assistant coach to the Mavericks in 2011.

The Raptors failed to acquire Steve Nash in 2012, who went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets instead.

Masai Ujiri took over the reigns as General Manager for the Raptors from Bryan Colangelo in 2013, marking a new beginning for the team.

The Raptors returned to the playoffs in 2014, with players like Lowry and DeMar DeRozan providing leadership.

Under Ujiri, the Raptors won five division titles and had their most successful season in 2018.




TORONTO RAPTORS KAWHI LEONARD

When the Raptors failed to make the finals, Ujiri fired Casey and traded fan favourite DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

Marc Gasol was also acquired before the end of the trade deadline.

With the new roster, the Raptors won its first Easter Conference title, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kawhi Leonard played two seasons of college basketball for the Sand Diego State Aztecs before being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick during the 2011 NBA Draft.

He was traded to the San Antonio Spurs on the same day, where he spent seven seasons, including when the Spurs became NBA champions in 2014.

He was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2018. This is his second NBA championship and second Finals MVP.

Leonard is a three-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA first team selection and five-time All-Defensive team selection.

Leonard’s defensive skills helped the Raptors to their first NBA championship. He was named the NBA Defensive Player of the year in 2015 and 2016.




TORONTO RAPTORS NBA FINALS

The Raptors’ defeat of the Bucks advanced the team to their first NBA Finals, facing two-time champions Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors emerged victorious, defeating the Warriors in six games to win their first NBA Championship.




TORONTO RAPTORS FIRST CANADIAN TEAM TO WIN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP

The Raptors made history when they defeated the heavily favoured Warriors to become the first Canadian team to win the NBA title.

The Raptors became the first non-American team to win a Big Four sports league title since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993.




WARRIORS LAST GAME IN ORACLE ARENA

It probably wasn’t how the Warriors thought they’d play the last game at the Oracle Arena, their home for the past 47 years.

No confetti fell at the buzzer, instead, the handful of Raptors fans present at the venue chanted “We The North” as the visiting Raptors lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy in victory.

The Warriors lost game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Raptors, 114-110, bringing an end to a basketball dynasty.

Warriors forward Draymond Green said after the game, “We’re not done yet. … We’ll be back.”

Warriors guard Steph Curry echoed Green’s thoughts, “The story’s not over.”

Questions remain about the Warriors future after the loss to the Raptors, including their forward Kevin Durant, who suffered an Achilles injury during game 5 in Toronto.

Like Leonard, Durant will be a free agent on July 1.

Guard Klay Thompson also suffered a torn ACL in the third quarter of game 6.




TORONTO RAPTORS PARADE

The City of Toronto will be celebrating the Raptors victory with a parade through the downtown core.

The Raptors will have a parade on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 10:00am in Toronto, Ontario.

The parade will start off from the Raptor’s practice facility at Exhibition Place, then will proceed from Lakeshore to York, turning to University and Armoury and ending at Nathan Phillips Square.

The weather is expected to cooperate with a few clouds and a high of 10 degrees.

City of Toronto Mayor has said that while he doesn’t have the power to declare a holiday, he’s asking for employers to give their workers the morning off to join the parade.




KAWHI LEONARD FREE AGENCY

Kawhi Leonard just led the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship, and on July 1 will become a free agent.

Leonard’s move to Toronto saw the departure of DeRozan, a fan favourite.

The MVP isn’t your typical NBA star, preferring to say few words during interviews, including answering questions about his future with the team.

The tight-lipped Leonard hasn’t commented publicly, despite rumours about him buying a house in Toronto.

So, what teams are looking at acquiring Leonard?

Well, among them are the Los Angeles Clippers, the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Los Angeles native can always choose to stay in Canada, and play for the Raptors one more time.




TORONTO RAPTORS JURASSIC PARK

The public square outside ScotiaBank arena was named “Jurassic Park” by Raptors fans during the 2014 postseason, after the box-office hit of the same name.

Because, you know, Raptors.

Its formal name is Maple Leaf Square, after Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Toronto Raptors as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jurassic Park has a capacity of 5,000 people. It hosts pre-game gatherings as well as live viewings of home and away games.

The outside wall of the atrium has a 24m video screen, where fans can watch the games live.

Jurassic Park is the first of its kind in Canada, and has since been copied in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

During the NBA Finals, similar public venues were renamed after the original Jurassic Park, as other municipalities and cities across Canada hosted their own viewing parties.




FANS WAIT IN 3 HOUR LINES AT SPORTS STORES FOR RAPTORS MERCH

Understandably, fans are excited to pick up NBA championship gear to show their support for the Raptors.

Fans are lined up at sports stores across Canada, hoping to pick up Raptors merchandise.

Real Sports at the ScotiaBank Arena is reporting three hour lines just to get in.

Real Sports sells official licensed NBA merchandise, including those of the Toronto Raptors.





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