Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after they beat Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. (Reuters/USA Today)
OAKLAND, California – The Toronto Raptors delivered Canada its first NBA title with a 114-110 victory over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday that set off a country-wide celebration.
With a nation hanging on their every shot, Canada’s only NBA team put the finishing touches to a remarkable 4-2 series upset that denied the Warriors a fourth championship in five years.
“I can’t really think right now, this is crazy. This is awesome man,” said Toronto guard Kyle Lowry. “Toronto! Canada! We brought it home baby! We brought it home!”
When the final buzzer sounded, jubilant Raptors fans flooded the streets of downtown Toronto for a night of celebration not seen in the city since Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays last won a World Series title in 1993.
Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard, who arrived in a blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs last July, was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
“Last summer I was going through a lot. I had a great support system, I just kept working hard, working hard and had my mind set on this goal right here,” said Leonard, who last season was limited to nine games due to a quadriceps injury.
“I came to a team, a new coach, and that mindset was the same as mine. This is what I play basketball for, this is what I work out for all summer, during the season and I’m happy that my hard work paid off.”
Leonard, who also won the award in 2014 while playing for the San Antonio Spurs, joins basketball greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP with two different franchises.
Lowry and Pascal Siakam each had 26 points for Toronto and Leonard 22, while sharp-shooting Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who left the game with an injury in the third quarter, had 30 points.
Despite playing against a more playoff-seasoned opponent, the Raptors proved unflappable throughout the series and whenever the Warriors looked set to seize momentum Toronto would use some smart passes and precise shooting to maintain control. (Reuters)