By Tim Lambrinos
Canada’s Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champions.
When Danny Green threw the basketball out of bounds and turned it over with only 10 seconds left on the clock in game six, it had all the foundation of creating another legendary goat.
Kawhi Leonard had different things in mind. He stayed locked in, focused on the game and sealed the victory for the Raptors. He’s now Canada’s sports Superman and he’s been given the key to the city. The sport of basketball is now number one in our hearts.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Toronto Argonauts seem to be missed in the recent frenzy of media conversation of Toronto championships. Remember, they won the CFL’s Grey Cup, only two season’s ago. The Blue Jays are talked about quite often but they haven’t won the overall championship for more than 25 years. The Leafs more than 50 years.
But remember that there will always continue to be many heroes in all major sporting events. Bucky Dent of the Yankees once put the Boston Red Sox out of their misery with a three run blast that sealed the 1977 World Series.
And with the heroes, there will be a continuing list of scapegoats too. Who can forget Leon McQuay’s late fumble in the 1971 Grey Cup game that had been perceived by many to cost Toronto the championship. Or Mitch “The Wild Thing” Williams, pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies when they were leading in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series over the Blue Jays, and giving up a winning home run to Joe Carter. His hometown fans would not forget the pain that easily. And one of the most famous fielding errors ever when Bill Buckner missed a routine ground ball that lost the 1986 World Series.
For our Toronto Raptor, Danny Green, all has been excused and he’s been embraced. He’s a hero along with the rest of the team. What will be remembered most about this Raptor season was Leonard’s determination and how his teammates responded to his level of intensity.
The 2018/19 campaign was an amazing physical feat for the Toronto Raptors. A team that became locked into winning and continue to provide a high volume of strength, courage and character. The Raptors’ rookie head coach, Nick Nurse, continued to drill a multicultural unit consisting of players from Cameroon, Spain, Canada, U.S.A and The Congo.
Kawhi Leonard’s level of precision in the game was the major key to the team’s success this year. His leadership, stamina and strength became transformed into others, as he led by example. Kyle Lowry and the rest of his teammates followed Leonard’s lead and elevated their own games to a level they really didn’t believe possible. The Toronto Raptors travelled on this wondrous journey together, and by doing so, created a special spirit of nationalism where the entire country jumped onto the ride. Canadian rapper Drake helped cheer them on.
Kawhi Leonard has indeed found a home and now a country. There’ll be an opportunity for the Raptors to re-peat their championship in the 2019/20 campaign. Returning home to San Diego, California for the summer won’t erase the hunger of this remarkable season for his teammates and there’ll remain a unseen drive to defend. He’ll be back.