The Toronto Raptors were the talk of the world in their jourmey to the NBA Finals, which they won.
It’s been more than fun and games for Canada and its athletes. This summer saw what could be the most red and white pride the country has seen since Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Over the past few months, Canada and some of its Canadian athletes have either made history, or come very close.
Leafs Fall Short in another playoffs, miss shot at Stanley Cup
Toronto Maple Leaf fans were on the edge of their seats for what would become yet another heartbreaking season conclusion. The Leafs made the playoffs this past season, and in a long first round series they became Canada’s last hope at a Stanley Cup victory and a possible end to a 26-year-old drought. The Leafs took the Boston Bruins to a 7-game series, losing by their largest goal deferential of the series: 1-5.
Bid Launched to bring WNBA team to Toronto
The Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzles were the only existing Canadian NBA teams when the NBA expanded into Canada in 1995. The Grizzles relocated to Memphis, leaving the Raptors as the only franchise to represent the country. The excitement of the Raptors in the 2019 NBA playoffs put a spotlight on Canadian basketball, and had many interested in a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) expansion into Canada as well. The WNBA, though much smaller and of a lower profile than the NBA, has garnered increased attention with the spotlight being put on female professional athletes. The WNBA, which was established in 1996, consists of 12 teams in comparison to the NBA’s 30, all of which are in the U.S. While the WNBA has expressed it has no plans of expanding into Canada, there are talk of plans to submit a bid for expansion in the near future.
Mississauga’s R.J. Barrett drafted 3rd overall in 2019 NBA Draft
Following the excitement of the 2019 NBA playoffs came the highly anticipated 2019 NBA drafts. Top draft prospect and number one draft pick Zion Williamson was the focus of the media outlets, but his Duke University teammate, Canadian R.J. Barrett would finish not too far behind. The Mississauga native would go on to be drafted third overall. He was one of six Canadians drafted in this year’s draft, setting an NBA record for most by a country other than the U.S.
Toronto Raptors Make History
For the first time in their 24 year tenure in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. The team had the entire country behind them as they made it through each playoff series to reach their first NBA Finals, another franchise record, to face the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors. It was a drama-filled series, from key player injuries to excessive fan behaviour. Amidst all the noise, and with the odds stacked against them, the Raptors beat the Warriors after six games.