Toronto Raptors fans react inside Jurassic Park, outside of the Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto, as they watch the Raptors defeat the Golden State Warriors in game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship, Thursday, June 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

We the North: Delirious fans celebrate as Raptors win NBA title

Supporters from all over Canada cheer Toronto’s triumph

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors, a team whose magical playoff run sparked civic pride and raucous enthusiasm across Canada, sent fans into fits of unbridled joy on Thursday as they beat the reigning champ Golden State Warriors in a see-saw thriller to win the NBA championship.

Thousands of spectators who jammed Jurassic Park, the fan zone outside the team’s empty downtown arena, to watch Game 6 of the finals on big screens erupted in gleeful pandemonium as the final buzzer sounded.

“This is the best day of my life!” said John Cooke, 35, of Toronto, as the crowd sang the Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”

“What a night! I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!” said Elias Edraki, 35, also of Toronto.

“And that’s how we do it in the North,” Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted above a photo of him, two of his children and a dog watching the game.

Fans had gathered both indoors and at dozens of outdoor venues across the country to cheer on a team from a city many Canadians love to hate, their enthusiasm measured by unusually jammed bars.

“It’s difficult to put into words what this means to me, but my love for my son — and the Raptors — is off the charts,” said John Drzazga, 41, of Grimsby, Ont., whose 10-year-old Dustin roamed the zone in an inflatable dinosaur suit with a two-metre tail.

Dozens of cities across Ontario also held packed viewing events as did many other places from coast to coast, such as Halifax, which threw a massive outdoor block party.

Montreal shut down two city blocks to allow the improbable: people cheering a team from Toronto. Thousands braved the rain, forming a red tide, as organizers handing out “We the North” T-shirts.

One man was booed when he arrived in a blue Warriors T-shirt. But he ripped it off to reveal a Raptors jersey. The Warriors shirt was set on fire, burning until police doused it. Fans in Regina, as they did on Monday, watched on the massive screen at the Roughriders’ home stadium, while Edmontonians headed to the Expo Centre.

Even in Rickford, Ill., hometown to Raptors star Fred VanVleet, fans began a party at 6 p.m. at the newly created Jurassic Park RKFD to watch their local hero perform.

“Fred is an amazing basketball player and a genuinely good person both on and off the court,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said.

RELATED: WATCH: Go, Canada! Raptors beat Warriors 114-110 to win NBA title

In Oakland, Calif., where the Warriors hosted the Raptors, cheers erupted in Oracle Stadium as Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLauchlan performed O Canada and Pat Monahan, of pop-rock act Train, sang The Star Spangled Banner before the tip-off.

Outside Christchurch, New Zealand, a Canadian flag hung on a suburban fence emblazoned, “Let’s Go Raptors” and “We the North.”

The championship win by the Raptors marked the first for a Canadian team in one of the big four professional sports since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series and the first NBA team outside the U.S. to go all the way.

“I remember coming here as an immigrant from Sri Lanka in 1989 and we watched Joe Carter hit that home run for the Jays,” said Subi Mahan, 37, of Pickering, Ont., who was with his two boys, Kiyan, 6, and Kishan, 9. “(So) to be here and share this with my boys is amazing. This is what love is.”

According to latest figures from payments firm Moneris, spending in bars nationally jumped 63 per on Monday from the same day a year ago, when the Raptors lost a Game 5 nail-biter by a single point. Edmonton saw the biggest increase with spending jumping a whopping 279 per cent. Spending in Toronto area bars almost doubled.

Love of the Raptors, with their best performance in their 24 seasons, prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to don his now-signature black-and-gold blazer to visit the gathering crowd Thursday.

“It is beyond comprehension that people could be down here, huddled under these makeshift tents, for hours on end, more than a day, overnight,” Tory said. “It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s been such a terrible spring, but they’ve been here week after week, day after day, and they’re the greatest fans in sports.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

NBA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Property tax increase ‘heartless’ in these hard times

Pandemic has cost people their jobs, notes letter writer

Provincial funding will help Regional District of Nanaimo create poverty reduction strategy

RDN partnering with member municipalities and Islands Trust on regional study

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Parcel stolen from front porch, Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect

Unidentified woman allegedly stole package containing $400 smart watch

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo’s Rocky Point

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Most Read