With a victory in Game 6, the Raptors dethrone the league’s reigning dynasty and claim the first title in franchise history.
Before the first NBA team outside the U.S. ever played a game, the new franchise in Toronto needed a name. The owners asked the entire nation of Canada for ideas. Some were good. Some were bad. Some were terrible. And one was the Raptors. It was 1994. “Jurassic Park” was big. That was reason enough for this basketball team to be named after dinosaurs.
Now the Toronto Raptors can be called something else: NBA champions.
The Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 of the Finals on Thursday to win the series, 4-2, with a commanding performance on the road in Oracle Arena’s last game to dethrone the league’s reigning dynasty and win the Raptors’ first title.
To hear “Toronto Raptors” and “NBA champions” in the same breath would’ve sounded like a hallucination to most fans for most of the franchise’s existence. This is the same team that once played in purple dinosaur uniforms. They couldn’t keep star players and couldn’t attract free agents. Toronto was too cold, too Canadian, too much unlike any other team in the league to compete at this level.
But now they have to declare the Larry O’Brien trophy at customs because of someone who has always been different himself.
There is no one in the NBA like Kawhi Leonard. He is quieter than every other player. He is also better. And he just put together one of the greatest playoff runs in the history of the league.