The Toronto Raptors are leading the 2019 NBA Finals over the dynastic Golden State Warriors. Read that sentence one more time. Let it sink in. 24 seasons after this team was brought into existence with the help of the legendary point god Isaiah Thomas, and David Stern, we have finally reached the summit.
There have been so many years of suffering. So many terrible moments that true fans of this franchise have had to go through to reach this point. From our 21-61 record in our inaugural season, to losing one of the most electrifying players of all time because we mismanaged him, to drafting an Italian big man with the first overall pick who was exiled from the league just years later, to trading starting caliber players along with Roy Hibbert who later became an all-star for an aging Jermaine O’Neal… the list goes on and on. If you remember the days when the highlight of the Raptors season was cheering for Jamario Moon or a young Demar Derozan in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend, you deserve this moment.
As a kid, all I can remember is walking through the school playground with my Chris Bosh jersey on, being surrounded by Maple Leafs fans telling me I’m rooting for the wrong team – playing the wrong sport. Heck, there even used to be more Blue Jays fans than Raptors fans. All we wanted back then was to have some support for our dinos. With the whole country on a wave, and the bandwagon oozing with fans who have no idea who Linas Kleiza or Aaron Gray are, enjoy the moment. Allow them to share in our joy, because us diehard Raps fans definitely all hopped on the Jays bandwagon back in 2015.
What is it that we really cheer for in sports though? As put by diehard Raptors fan, Veeral Gohil, “Sometimes I really wonder, basketball is just people putting a ball into a hoop… is the hype justified? Why do I care so much? Because I think it’s more than that. Much more. We’ve always been the underdogs in everything we do – this tiny city in the North. Ours is a story of perseverance, getting over the hurdles, and putting our best foot forward every single time. The Toronto Raptors are a small part of that everything. Championship or not, winter has come, and we’re here to stay.”
Veeral’s words have Open Gym Moment written all over them. This is what unites us. The pride, and the passion of the game, not the objective of it. We have come so far to reach this point, and we’re not close to being done yet. Regardless of what happens, enjoy the moment, Raptors fans. Something this spectacular may not come again for a very long time.