In a historical win which challenged the previous narrative in the world of professional basketball, 2019’s NBA Finals saw the Toronto Raptors take home the championship for the first time in 25 year history. The final game of the series took place in Oakland, ending in an emotionally harrowing victory with the Raptors fighting their way to a final score of 114-110 against the incumbent favorites the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena. The victory caught global attention, seeing the O’Brien trophy go to the only team that exists north of the border.
Key player for and Golden States most productive scorer on the night Klay Thompson suffered a severe injury which will keep him out for most of next season at a critical point in the game. Raptor powerfoward Pascal Siakam end the game with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists, and fellow African Serge Ibaka scored 15 points in addition to grabbing 3 rebounds.
The Toronto Raptors area a special team in the NBA, known to attract players from different parts of the world. The finals saw an increase the African audience, boosted by the on-court dominance of Cameroon’s Siakam and Congo’s Ibaka – both solid key players of the team – in addition to the presence of the only African GM in the League (now also the first African GM to win an NBA championship) Massai Ujiri.
The entire country Canada will be celebrating the championship alongside Toronto as they are the only NBA team present after the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis following the 2000-2001 and one season (Grizzlies were founded the same year as the Raptors in 1995). Ibaka, Siakam, and Ujiri attended the 2018 NBA Africa Game in South Africa, leaving a positive impact on the youth involved in the Basketball Without Boarders program to facilitate the growth of basketball and developing young talent on the court and behind the scenes in Africa.
The official NBA Championship parade for the Raptors will take place in Toronto on Monday June 17th. With the time span that dedicated Raptors fans have waited.
By Yussuf Yanni