By Danesh Thirukumaran
Mission accomplished. Despite the Raptors inability to display multiple superstars at the forefront similar to many championship teams in the past, they were able to overcome much adversity and were crowned 2018-2019 NBA Champions.
They were able to defeat the star laden Golden State Warriors, although injuries did play a part in the Warriors’ demise. These injuries showcase the difficult, uphill battle that many teams must endure throughout a long and grueling season in order to become NBA champions. The intensity in which practices, workouts, and games are executed with takes a toll on one’s body, and the Raptors ended up surviving all of this to be the last team standing.
The entire playoffs epitomized the Raptors culture and playstyle, as different players stepped up in different situations, all with full embrace from their teammates, coaching staff, and the fans. In the eastern conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, when the team desperately searched for a spark off the bench especially due to Kawhi’s heavy workload, Norman Powell stepped up and provided this much needed scoring and effort. Throughout the finals against the Warriors, Pascal Siakam came up huge in game 1 and game 6, as he provided some of the best performances we have seen from him. The entire starting lineup in game 3 played astounding on the road as each player scored over 17 points. Kyle Lowry’s ability to bounce back game 6 after missing the potential game winner in game 5 proved his resiliency, embodying the true heart of a champion. Fred VanVleet’s capability to face tough situations was upheld in the fourth quarter in game 6, as he was able to hit timely shots and end up with 22 points to help secure the Raptors victory. The numerous contributions made by Toronto’s supporting cast are a testament to their depth.
While the supporting cast fulfilled each of their roles in their fullest capacity, Kawhi Leonard proved again why he should be in contention for best player in the league. He was able to perform at an elite level on the offensive and defensive end of the floor, leading his team to victory and earning finals most valuable player (MVP) honors as well.
The team composed through risks made by the General Manager Masai Ujiri had an unmatched grit, chemistry, and understanding of basketball which led them to secure Toronto’s first NBA championship. This is an amazing feat due to the fact that none of the players that are on this championship team were NBA lottery draft picks, meaning that none of these players were selected in the top 14 during any NBA draft, proving that they were an underestimated group of individuals who came together to achieve such an immense accomplishment.
Having an entire country’s support helped will the Raptors, and the team’s pursuit for excellence helped unify almost every individual in the country. This was seen as immediately after their win, the fans celebrated together in the streets for hours.
⛹️♀️(This article will be featured in the July 2019, print edition of the Monsoon Journal 2019) ⛹️♂️ #WeTheNorth #LetsGoRaptors