In 1946 the National Basketball Association formed. Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian, created a basketball and ever since the sport has gained national recognition. In 72 years this Olympic sport has never seen an international winner.
Last night, Basketball came full circle the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship. The Raptors journey was anything but ordinary, a rookie head coach, a questionable trade, and uncertainty about the bench.
The Raptors had 1:750 odds to win the NBA title in December. Future finals MVP Kawaii Leonard rested 22 games during the regular season leading to questions from loyal fans. With all odds against them, the Raptors battled to a 58 win season beating their opponent the Warriors in both matchups.
Since 2014, the Raptors have been in the playoffs, but have had early exits. This year the Raptors beat all 4 of their opponents. This journey was unexpected, and it did not come without breaks. In the Raptors opening series against the Magic, they won the series 4-1. The Magic, a young team experiencing recent success, had their entire fan base behind them. The Raptors, with superior players and support staff, beat this 42 win team. Next up the challenging 76ers and their team, named by fans, #trusttheprocess. The series was competitive up until the last second when Kawaii shot a 3 pointer to win the series. Now in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2016, the Raptors faced the 60 win Milwaukee Bucks team and potential MVP Giannis Antentokupo. In 6 games the Raptors advanced to the NBA finals.
On May 30, 2019, the first-ever NBA Finals game took place outside the borders of the United States. Pascal Siakam scored 32 points, a playoff career-high, leading to the Raptors first finals win.
On June 2, 2019, the Warriors tied the series with 48 points combined from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Demarcus Cousins added 11 points and ten rebounds to the 109 – 104 victory. Trailing by five points at halftime, the Warriors began an 18 – 0 run to regain the lead.
The tied series returned to Oracle Arena for game three and four. The Raptors overpowered the Kevin Durant-less warriors winning game three by 14 points and game four by 13 points.
The Warriors had a jolt of energy in game five as Kevin Durant was welcomed back with an overpowering 11 points, including the game’s first 6 points. Unfortunately, in the second quarter, as Durant was driving, he fell to the floor. As fans cheered the injury, Durant was helped by teammates to the locker room. Warriors doctors ruled out Durant for the rest of the series with a ruptured Achilles. A renewed life in the warriors led them to a 1 point victory.
In the historic Game six, Kyle Lowry regained his confidence connecting on 18 points, and 11 straight in the first quarter. The energy in Oracle Arena was not enough to slow down the Raptors. Leonard who had 26 points in this context was named finals MVP.
On Monday, the Raptors will return to Toronto for their Championship parade.