“Canada only loves hockey”

Yeah I really do. But you know what else I love? Basketball. 

The Toronto Raptors won my heart back in the mid 2000s when the three best things to look forward to was Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon putting up 10 and 10 and Andrea Bargnani’s Primo pasta ads. 

The first ever Raptors game I went to was against the Los Angeles Lakers so I had the pleasure of seeing one of the greats, Kobe Bryant live. I vividly remember sitting there with my dad as it seemed like Calderon was the only player that could manage to muster up any sort of offense. 

As the music rained down from the speakers above us during the Raptors’ possessions, as Bryant got jeered by the entire Air Canada Centre for throwing up an airball my love for basketball grew beyond the kid who watched them play every once in a while on television.

Things were hard to watch for quite a while. Bosh leaving, and do I have to mention the Primo ads again? But then a few things started to change. We acquired a guy by the name of Kyle Lowry, we watched a young kid from Compton, DeMar Derozan develop into the elite scorer he is today. We even watched Terrence Ross win the slam dunk contest giving us flashbacks of what Toronto basketball used to be in Vince Carter.

Then 2014 happened. Ya know, the year Masai Ujiri yelled f*** Brooklyn. Yeah, good times. Even though we lost that first round series in seven games this city came alive. The love that this city has for this sport finally shone through after all of the years where playoffs didn’t even seem like a possibility.

The heartbreak of the Nets series, the Wizards series the year after, and all of the heartbreak done by Lebron James himself. That was real heartbreak, I loved those teams and I wanted nothing more for them to bring a championship to the city I call home.

So when the clock expired at the Oracle Arena on June 12, 2019 I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. For so long in my life a championship seemed like a distant reality. The Raptors did it, they brought a championship to this city, they brought a championship to this country.

No they didn’t win the Stanley Cup, they won the Larry O’Brien trophy. But two million people made their way downtown on a Monday morning to see that Larry O’Brien trophy.

Why? Because Toronto and the rest of Canada loves basketball.

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