Toronto Raptors celebrate their maiden NBA Championship with a parade
Jubilant Raptors fans were decked out in the team’s gear cheering and chanting as a parade starring the newly crowned NBA champions took place in Toronto on Monday. This was the first such celebration in more than two decades.
Crowds packed the route and the square outside City Hall where the march was to end on the afternoon. Team players smiled from the open-top double-decker buses, some splashing the gathered fans with champagne, as they moved slowly down the designated route.
At one point, Kyle Lowry, who is the longest-serving member of the Raptors, was seen hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy while some of his teammates smoked cigars.
Many fans said they decided not to go to school or work so that they could attend the celebration.
Cypher Sabanal, 15, said his mom let him skip school to attend the parade and rally.
“I actually have exams this week but being here is worth it,” he said, adding that he’s been a Raptors fan his whole life.
Meanwhile, John Moreira said he decided not to go into work so he could be part of the moment.
“I told my boss I wanted to be at the parade and he said there wasn’t much he could do if I called in sick so that’s exactly what I did,” said the 31-year-old. “I’m looking forward to seeing the whole team. They all work so hard and deserve all the fans being out here.”
MVP Kawhi Leonard is notoriously calm, cool and collected, but even he was overwhelmed by the celebration that took place.
“It’s amazing. Everybody’s out. I don’t believe nobody went in to work today. Look at it. It’s amazing.”
“Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada for the support. We did it,” he said, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Meanwhile, Leonard wasn’t the only player impressed by the admiration for the team.
“The ground is shaking. It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to put into words,” said guard Fred VanVleet, who was a clutch shooter for the Raptors down the stretch. This is crazy, man… I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else to say,” said forward Pascal Siakam.
Furthermore, the next goal is to get another championship in 2020, he said.
“These are the best fans in the world. They deserve it.”
Meanwhile, Danny Green said he felt that all 36 million Canadians were celebrating the victory.
“It’s a great feeling. Because the fans have supported us all year and we try to do the best we can to show as much love back to them. This is our way to trying to do that, giving it back to them.”
Also, head coach Nick Nurse admitted that he pondered what a victory parade might be like but never pictured this result.
“The fans here have helped us a lot,” he said. “When they were singing O Canada in Game 1, you could see the looks on the Warriors’ faces. They knew they had their hands full… they knew the whole country was behind the team.”
Meanwhile, Raptors owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment are committed to carrying on the winning says Edward Rogers, chair of Rogers Communications and a director of MLSE.
“I want everyone to know that the three of us and everyone are going to do everything we can to not just make this a one-year thing but a dynasty. Because I think we’ve got the makings here to keep this going and to build on this.”