I know we are a little wrapped in our London, SE7 lives but up in Canada today they are having their own wild ‘it never happens to us’ celebrations.
I’ve long had a soft spot for the basketball team Toronto Raptors. The sole Canadian representatives playing in an all-American, money sodden NBA. The Raptors are worthy underdogs never appearing in a Championship final nor having much won anything. Yet I’ve seen them a few times and their fans stick with them through the mediocrity.
However, these last couple of seasons good things started to brew, and this one with a new coach, and with some star signings such as MVP Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors comfortably saw off more richer, renowned and frankly more favoured teams and made it to the Championship finals to play the all star Golden State Warriors led by the fabled Steph Curry.
But last night at the home of Golden State in Oakland, Leonard and the peerless Kyle Lowry and superb Freddie VanVleet led the Canadians to a 114-110 win taking the series 4-2 win. The whole of Canada celebrated long and hard as the first North American sports title headed across the border since 1993.
Golden State have been the golden generation for most of this decade and have appeared in the last five NBA Championship finals, but Toronto fought them toe to toe in a breathtaking series, which led me to stay up later than normal a few nights.
The Warriors will point to injuries to crucial players such as Kevin Durrant and Klay Thompson and although to a layman it seemed that at any minute Steph Curry and his teammates’ Man City-type precision passing and shooting would take the game past the street fighting Raptors, the intrepid Canadians hung in there like an Arctic breeze and were not to be defeated.
Sadly, despite millions of Canadians cheering their team on, there weren’t any countrymen in their line-up last night. Yet Canada and especially Torontonians, point to their very own James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball in 1891, and it was in the north where the first ever game was played.
The NBA title may never have lived in Toronto before, but it has now gone home.