I thought it would be over after the Bucks series.
“We made history. Now just survive.“
There was doubt; subtle at times, but others loud as hell, that have been built up after witnessing the franchise screw up several draft picks and trades over the last 24 years. As well as the overbearing eye from the population of the 30 other franchises, their fan-bases, and NBA analysts from south of the border.
“We won Game One! But once Steph and Klay get hot, it’s over.“
The powerhouse warriors, even without KD, D.Cousins, and a hobbling Klay Thompson, were still a destructive team with a solid bench. But the world now knew the Raptors were a problem, with a backcourt full of silent killers and a truly gifted supporting cast in Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet.
“3-1 lead? Don’t get too happy. Steph blew that in 2016, who’s to say that we can’t? Plus when KD comes ba-“
We did it.
Canada is a World Champion.
The 24-year old franchise led by GM, Masai Ujiri, Head coach Nick Nurse, 10 year Raptor veteran, Kyle Lowry, and last piece to the puzzle, BoardMan himself: Kawhi Leonard.. are NBA Champions.
This means everything to Canadian sports fans – who haven’t seen a major sports trophy on Northern soil since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup title back in 1993. It’s been a rough 24 years for basketball fans up here to say the least; especially since basketball has been in second place in terms of fan support and popularity.
After the derailment of another early Canadian basketball project in the former Vancouver Grizzlies circa 2002, the Raptors have upheld the title of being the lone NBA franchise North of the border and bare the mockery that comes with it. Up until recently, I would liken us to that one kid in elementary school that sat by himself at lunch time because his mom always packed him a smelly tuna sandwich. In our case it was Primo Pasta and Sauce. Good times. Good times.
We’ve had our share of painful moments. Kobe’s 81 on Jalen Rose, Vince Carter’s trade to the Nets, and most recently, the famed Derozan/Kawhi trade that brought us to where we are today. The wound is still healing. DeMar DeRozan will forever be respected in the North for what he helped build.
As far as where Kawhi will end up next year, it’s up to him. And as far as we know, the only person who really knows is him. He’s put in the work and shuts down the doubters in true Raptor fashion, and that’s all we’ve ever asked of him. We thank him regardless of if he’s here for one more year or ten because what he helped us achieve is irreplaceable. Thank you Kawhi.
All in all, we’ve been through the mud, thrown into the fire, and walked right back out again. We’ve learned some tough lessons, made some tough choices. But it all makes us who we are and who we’ve branded ourselves to be:
WE THE NORTH.
WE THE CHAMPS.