Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@rodzyalbizurez)
As the dust settles and the confetti is being taken by the local Toronto garbage man, we simply realize that the Toronto Raptors are headed to the NBA Finals. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a Canadian team has never been to the NBA finals and you sure as hell don’t have to be a die-hard fan to recognize what kind of impact this has on Canadian sports history, and in sports history in general. Die-hard Raptoronians (just made that one up) have been drooling for this moment. Casual Raptors fans have been waiting for the opportunity to become committed to a team that excites them with a winning background. And bandwagon fans - all I can say is welcome to Jurassic Park.
Canada, as a country, hasn’t won a title since the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs took place and the Montreal Canadians won it. The Blue Jays also won a World Series that year as well. So to say 1993 was a big year for Canadians would be an understatement. Those titles were won before the Raptors were inaugurated into the NBA in 1995. From that year, Raptors fans have been dreaming for the opportunity to truly compete for a title and to put Canadian sports on their back. The Raptors players, the whole organization, and the fanbase finally have the chance to win a title and also have the opportunity to tell the American media outlets to “Thank Me Later” once they take full advantage of their shot.
For the past 24 years the Raptors have had some good playoff moments with a sprinkle of great moments, but if we are being realistic and truthful, the disappointment has blanketed the good moments and the sprinkles of great. Now this year, the Raptors have elevated their playoff performance to the elite level and the “Views” from up here are too great to ever come down. As the first round finished in 5 games, the Raptors were able to spark a tiny fire under Canada’s ass. Now as the 2nd round finished up with that historic Game 7 winning shot by Kawhi Leonard, that fire grew to a reasonable height but not worthy of your local park ranger to come in and investigate. Now the 3rd round has come and gone and the Raptors were able to hunt the Bucks in 6 games after losing the first two. Now that fire under Canada’s ass has turned into a full-on Game of Thrones Ice Dragon taking down the Knights’ Watch Wall, and if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, give your head a shake but to put it in context, it was monumental. The Raptors were able to shut the naysayers up with that series win and left them with two simple words:
Now we are a few days away from the NBA Finals and the Raptors have the opportunity to prove the critics wrong again. If you’ve tuned into the American media outlets already, then you understand how frustrated Raptors fans are. They aren’t previewing the NBA Finals but instead they are talking about whether the Lakers or Clippers are going to land Kawhi Leonard. So much hate. Also, no one really gives Toronto a shot to win the title other than Charles Barkley and that’s fair. We are going up against the Golden State Warriors who are the defending NBA champions and they’re back in the Finals for a reason: they’re elite.
The Raptors could take the NBA Finals by surprise and burn down every critics’ opinion like Daenerys took down Kings Landing, ruthless. The only major difference is the Toronto Raptors would be the heroes in this epic tale because everyone loves an underdog story. The “Scorpion” is small, but it has a deadly sting and the Raptors are ready to stun the NBA world.
In all, this Raptors’ playoff run has been something special and regardless of how it turns out, Raptors fans should be enjoying this moment and not taking it for granted. Who cares if Kawhi is going to stay with us? We will cross that bridge on June 30th together like we have crossed any bridge for the past 24 years. After we crossed that Eastern Conference Finals bridge, “Nothing Was The Same” for Raptors fans and our hopes. If Canada wasn’t a basketball country before, it sure as hell is now.
Raptors in 7!
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)