Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard’s impact will remain even after he’s gone

Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Championship Memories

Championship memories last a lifetime. Just ask anyone old enough to remember the Toronto Blue Jays win in 1992 and 1993, or ask anyone old enough to remember Toronto Maple Leafs multiple victories in the 1960s. These finals brought us numerous iconic memories from the utter dominance of Kawhi Leonard, the Game 6 heroics of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, to the series-shifting decision to have Kawhi guard Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference Finals.

None, however, were more iconic than ‘the shot’. The mass hysteria that followed our first trip to the NBA Finals was trumped only by the actual celebrations following our Game 6 NBA championship victory. Fans lined the streets all the way from downtown to Yonge and Steeles.

The memories created in this historic run will last a lifetime. The post-game scenes at Oracle Arena in Games 4 and 6, in which Raptors fans literally took over the arena shocked the entire NBA world.

The passion the Raptors fanbase, even those in the diaspora have for the team was never more evident than when the NBA TV booth stopped multiple times to remark at how they had never seen anything like what the Raptors fans were doing in their entire, respective NBA careers and broadcasting careers.

Masai Ujiri even took time to stand on the court to soak in what his team and its fans were showing the NBA: “Hockey country be damned, we the north, and we are here.”

Finally, Toronto had the first parade in the city in over 25 years. Does anyone know if Toronto FC or the Toronto Argonauts had parades?

Upwards of two million people lined the streets, while more than nine million watched at home. Some 65,000 people, including yours, truly waited at Nathan Phillips Square for up to 15 hours, to see the Toronto Raptors team reach the stage with the Larry O’B and the Finals MVP trophy.

Fans continued to wait even after the parade ran over time by about three hours. There will never be another first was the mantra of those suffering from dehydration, overcrowding, poor access to water and restrooms, and restlessness. It was all worth it, even if the players were alarmingly brief due to the extra hours the parade itself lasted.