Toronto Raptors Hoist First Championship Banner, Receive Rings
You could not plan a more perfect night in the city of Toronto.
On Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors kicked off the NBA regular season as the champions of the league. It was a celebration unlike any other the city has ever seen as each member of the Raptors organization received massive, golden championship rings in front of a sold out Scotiabank Arena and a packed Jurassic Park.
“Such a special night, on behalf of my teammates, the organization and my guys that aren’t here,” Kyle Lowry said. “We want to thank you guys and the country of Canada.”
It was a moment that will never be taken away from us.
“It was lot more than I thought it was going to be (emotionally),” said Head Coach Nick Nurse. “I guess I just didn’t prepare myself too well. I thought they’d just present us a ring and going through the whole playoff thing and down there and the crowd was pretty amped up, it was pretty emotional.
“I haven’t really watched many of those games but you’re around enough and see enough highlights and you just, like, man, that shot he hit and that shot he hit and … it’s really something.”
It was a night to cap off a celebration that has been ongoing all Summer long throughout the country of Canada.
At long last, a championship title has been brought north of the border. At long last, a Toronto team hoisted a championship banner. At long last, it feels real. It has truly been a magical ride and as the celebration came to a close, the Raptors, focused as ever, understood that their quest to defend their NBA championship has officially begun.
“It was a lot better than what I expected,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet at the conclusion of the night. “I went into it with an open mind. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought it would be kind of be anti-climactic in one sense, kind of dull us out for the game, but it was quite the opposite. It really got the emotions again, watching it and feeling that energy was amazing.
“I mean you only really remember Game 6, so you kind of forget what the ride was and the journey and what it took to get there. It also was a reminder of what it meant to the fans in the city and the country.”
Despite popular belief, a basketball game did in fact take place following the championship banner celebration as the Raptors played host to the upstart New Orleans Pelicans. It was up to the Raptors to quickly shake off the championship hangover and re-set their focus as the Pelicans, were more than ready for the challenge of going up against the NBA champs.
The target is on the Raptors backs and everyone wants a piece of it.
Despite some early sloppiness, the Raptors were able to overcome a strong offensive outburst from their opposition, to secure a 130-122 victory in overtime. Led by 34 points and 18 rebounds from the team’s new $129.9-million man Pascal Siakam and a career-high 34 points from Fred VanVleet, the Raptors continued to fight whenever the Pelicans tried to create separation. Kyle Lowry added 22 points of his own and OG Anunoby looked phenomenal on both ends of the floor.
“Bryce Harper is gone, too, but where are the Nationals?” Said Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry following the loss. ”I wouldn’t count these guys out just yet.”
On a night that no one will ever forget, the Nationals of the NBA embarked on their title defense in what will be yet another unforgettable season of Raptors basketball!