By: Danesh Thirukumaran
Here comes Toronto. The recent success of the Toronto Raptors has put the city’s passion for basketball in the spotlight, as many followers, old and new, begin to rejoice as the team reaches its first NBA Finals in team history. “Dr. James Naismith of Almonte, Ontario, probably never imagined how the sport would rally Canadians this spring when he invented it over 125 years ago,” as said by the Library and Archives Canada.
It has been a long time coming, as the team has been eliminated the past three seasons at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, so it seemed that it was time to make a change. Masai Ujiri, General Manager of the Raptors, traded away their best player arguably in their franchise history, DeMar DeRozan, to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
This trade rattled the league as a superstar in DeRozan, who had given his all to the Raptors, was traded for Leonard who had much uncertainty surrounding him. This included an injury plaguing him for much of the 2017-2018 season, a disintegrated relationship with the San Antonio Spurs organization, the fact that he only had one year remaining in his contract, and lastly that he had expressed that he had no interest in playing with the Raptors. Masai Ujiri also fired the 2017-2018 coach of the year, Dwane Casey, and hired Nick Nurse who was an assistant during Casey’s term as head coach.
These blockbuster changes caused the NBA world to question Masai Ujiri’s sanity, but as we can see today, it paid off, as they are playing in basketball’s biggest stage.
The Raptors ability to play as a cohesive unit is what has allowed them to be a great team the past few years, but they were never able to get over the hump. The addition of Kawhi Leonard, a future hall of famer, allowed this team to surpass their previous achievements. His ability to create his own shot and pretty much score anywhere on anyone has led the Raptors to this position. However, other vital players cannot be discounted, as players like Kyle Lowry, who plays with a fire like no other, pushes this team to their limit. He instills confidence in those around him and performs the intangibles that makes a team a championship worthy one.
Something can be said about each of the players on the roster, as they each play an imperative role on this team, which makes them so fun to watch.
The Raptors playstyle highlights the greatness of the sport, as they display that each player represents a necessary component of a well-oiled machine. The fluidity that they play with exhibits the beauty of basketball, which seems to increase its following by the minute here in Canada. The ability for many different skills and the passion that individuals can display as seen by these Raptor players emphasizes basketball’s excellence.
Strolling through Toronto and many surrounding areas in Canada, it can be seen that people operate in their day to day activities with additional excitement, as this recent success of the Raptors has jolted the entire country. ⛹️♀️⛹️♂️
🍁#LetsGoRaptors #WeTheNorth #TorontoRaptors