6ix In 6ix: What the Toronto Raptors NBA Finals Win Means For Basketball In Canada

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Kawhi Leonard may go down as the greatest Toronto Raptor in history. Last offseason, the Raptors’ President of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri, traded away superstar Demar DeRozan for Leonard, who won Finals MVP while leading his team to their first championship in their first ever Finals appearance. However, the supporting cast of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Serge Ibaka were all crucial in taking down what is arguably the best dynasty in NBA history, the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors won with a team effort, and Canadians all over the country are finally celebrating an NBA championship.

Few sporting events have brought this country closer than these NBA Finals. With this championship, Canada has finally secured the respect of being a top basketball country in the world, and its citizens love it. Game 5 had a record-high 4.3 million viewers, making it the most watched game by Canadian viewers in NBA history. From casual fans, to pop-culture icon Drake, to Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia, people around the country have shown endless support for their team. From gathering thousands of fans in Jurassic Park in Toronto, or the pop-up “Jurassic Parks” in cities like Montreal, fans have been coming together to witness the greatest playoff run in team history.

Few sporting events have brought this country closer than these NBA Finals.

Perhaps this win could propel Canada to increased success in not only the NBA, but basketball in general. More Canadian players are joining or making names for themselves in the NBA, like top draft pick RJ Barrett, or rising star of the Denver Nuggets, Jamal Murray. At the beginning of the season, 13 Canadians were on NBA rosters – the most international players from a single country in the league. The future of the NBA seems poised to have more Canadian talent represented on the national level. Canada no longer wants to be known as America’s “little brother” in terms of basketball talent.

Team Canada will be competing in this year’s FIBA World Cup in China. They will be coached by none other than NBA champion-winning coach of the Toronto Raptors, Nick Nurse. This may be the most anticipated FIBA World Cup campaign for Team Canada, coming off a nation-wide celebration of an NBA Championship, and the sky is the limit for them. 

Canada no longer wants to be known as America’s “little brother” in terms of basketball talent.

Basketball is becoming more loved in the eyes of the Canadian people. Furthermore, there is an increase in youth participation in basketball, perhaps aided by the founding of the Jr. NBA Canadian Leadership Council, which includes icons like former Hall of Famer Steve Nash, or current Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. They are offering Junior NBA basketball programs in over 300 communities across Canada, and the Raptors will be supporting the program in Ontario.

The sport of basketball was invented by James Nasimith, a former McGill graduate, in 1891. It seems only right that an NBA championship has finally come back to Canada. We The North!

 

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