Can you feel it?
The excitement of the Toronto Raptors being in the NBA finals is overpowering the city. Actually, not just the city, the entire nation. They are bringing basketball to the front pages of every national, provincial, and municipal newspaper.
By just stepping into a coffee store, turning on a radio station, or switching on the TV, you will hear the word, “Raptor.” The basketball team has transformed everybody into Raptors fans. Those that never watch a basketball game in their life, are watching the entire 2-hour spectacle every three nights. They are learning every team member, on the starting lineup, and on the bench. Wearing red, black, or white, screaming at their TVs, projectors, or anything they are consuming the game on. You have around 100,000 people outside, viewing on the big screens at their respective communities, in rain or shine conditions. You have people camping outside, not to get into the arena, but to just watch the game on TV. During the games, they pan across all the viewing parties around the Greater Toronto Area and then after showing the 20,000+ people in Mississauga, 10,000 or so in Brampton, and others in Scarborough, the screen shows Halifax N.S, and Regina SK. This is not just Toronto’s or Ontario’s team, this is the nation’s team.
Rarely, large occasions bring the entire city to a standstill. Rarely, at 9PM at night, 6.4 million people tune in to watch a sports game. That is 2 million more people than this year’s super bowl. It even surpasses the Blue Jay’s highest number of viewers when they made the playoffs in 2016, by 1 million. And that is with the fact that almost 100,000 people are watching on 1-10 screens, outdoors.
Game by game, the Raptors are taking over the city. It went from winning the first round routinely, as most people thought, to winning games against the double defending champions. Not only are they representing the hard-work and determination that goes into pursuing the championship, but they are also inspiring everyone, at the same time.
The Raptors are bringing Toronto closer. Just look at any picture of Jurassic park. You will spot different nationalities, cultures, races, and more. Commentators from the United States are coming to city and praising the diversity, spirit, and determination the fans have for the Raptors.
If you take a picture of 19,000 people, there will be 19,000 different cultures in that picture.Yohan Roche
When the Raptors were born 24 years ago, people thought it was a joke for Toronto to have a basketball team. It took years for Vince Carter to put the team on the map and for people to recognize us in the NBA. With the Vancouver Grizzlies moving to Memphis in 2001, there was only one NBA team up north. All of Canada’s weight fell onto the Raptors. It took 24 years for Canadians to finally come together to support the playoff run this season. It took 24 years for Raptors fans that went to every home game since the creation of the team, to witness the NBA finals being held in Toronto. It took 73 years for Canada to hold its first NBA finals. This city has been waiting for a major championship for years.
The players are desperate for the championship. The coaching staff are desperate for the championship. But above all, the fans are desperate for the championship.
As we go into game 6, the “Six” readies itself for a history making night.
This will be huge.
We the North