Raptors Cage

Processing what just happened

I wanted to wait a while to write this, with hopes of the dust settling and emotions calming. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon, so I guess this will have to do.

The Toronto Raptors are fucking NBA Champions. Holy fuck.

Typically at this time of the year, I’ll start analyzing what went wrong with the Raptors this year. What offseason tweaks can be made to potentially make a deeper playoff run? Are there any decent players the Raps can sign with the MLE? At this point, I really don’t know what to do with myself.

Did anybody actually believe this was possible? Coming into this season, I thought a finals appearance wasn’t out of the question, but this? Even after the Raps went up 1-0 in the series I didn’t believe it was possible. I mean, I believed. But deep down I didn’t truly think it could actually happen. That the Toronto Raptors could beat the unbeatable Golden State Warriors. The Toronto Raptors. I still can’t process it.

This championship run certainly will hold different significance for each individual. For a lot of fans, it was an unbelievable ride being able to cheer on and get supremely hyped about a Toronto team winning on a global stage. I mean, Jurrasic Park was unprecedented.  For others, it wasn’t necessarily fun – but emotionally taxing and ultimately incredibly satisfying.

For me personally, the significance of this journey comes back to the years of struggles. After years of ‘Craptors’, Barney memes, cringe commercials to distract us from horrific basketball (here’s another), and LeBronto, this championship almost feels like the happy ending of a very long story after tons of erratic chapters with no end in sight. I never thought about what would happen once the Raptors actually won a championship because it simply seemed so outrageous. Over the years, Raptors fans have gotten so much shit. The organization was a laughing stock across the entire league. Even amongst Torontonians people would make fun of me for being a Raptors fan. Maybe 20% of the basketball fans I knew from Toronto actually cared about the Raptors. I don’t necessarily blame them because there were many points where the team was completely unwatchable. And yet, I think that’s what makes this even more beautiful.

People tell me I always talk so highly of Kyle Lowry. Yes, that’s completely true – and there’s a damn good reason behind it. He’s the greatest Raptor of all time, a future Hall of Famer, and people just don’t get it. The guy has gotten so much shit his entire career. Choker, fat, overpaid, undeserving all-star.

Greatest. Raptor. Ever. Him winning this trophy by playing the way he did in that game 6 is the epitome of what I’m talking about here. Poetic.

Kawhi Leonard’s playoff run will go down in history as the most dominant performance by any Toronto athlete. Stuff of legends. And what about Freddy V’s resurgence mid-playoffs? Unbelievable. Pascal Siakam is only 25 and a borderline All-star lock.  Danny Green had the most insane block in Raptors history and torched the Warriors with 6 threes(!!) in game 3. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol absolutely held down the paint and got their well deserved championships, after years of playoff disappointment. Playoff Powell was activated. Let’s not forget about the rookie head coach Nick Nurse out-coaching the 3 time champions.

This whole run was truly surreal. The Raptormania that occurred around the city was very strange to see. From virtually everyone in the downtown core wearing a Raptors jersey to the random people at work asking why the last two minutes of a basketball game takes so long, the weirdness of the whole Toronto ecosystem just made this whole thing even more difficult to process. Seeing an ABC broadcast of the NBA Finals in Toronto. Absurd.

I don’t know where the Raptors go from here, but if Kawhi re-signs I don’t see any reason why the winning stops anytime soon. Masai, do your thing.

Maybe none of what I wrote makes any sense. Frankly, I don’t really care. The Larry O’Brien trophy has cleared customs. The Toronto Raptors are forever NBA Champions. I’ll see you all at the parade.

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