The Toronto Raptors had a 2019 to remember and celebrate. We look back at the top ten moments that defined the year for the team.
The year is coming to an end and the Toronto Raptors will be sad to see their calendars turn over. 2019 has been the franchise’s best year for many reasons. And we here at Raptors Rapture have had a tremendous time documenting it all.
Choosing and ranking just ten moments wasn’t an easy task. Many of this site’s contributors debated the list to help ensure we got it right.
10. Masai Didn’t Leave
Following the Raptors’ magical playoff run, the fanbase was stunned to read about rumors that the Washington Wizards were in the market to poach the team’s president, Masai Ujiri. It was leaked that their owner, Ted Leonsis, was willing to pay $40 million for six years and that he would seek the Raptors permission to speak with Ujiri.
The Wizards would eventually respond that there was no truth to the rumors, but panic around keeping Ujiri never dissipated in the 6ix. Toronto fans would continue to play the role of over-protective jealous-partner when the New York Knicks were brought into the conversation.
Ujiri was recently linked to the Knicks with some in the organization referring to him as a franchise “savior.”
This time it was MLSE chairman and part-owner, Larry Tanenbaum, who quelled fans angst. Tenenbaum told the Toronto Sun,
"“We haven’t talked (about an extension) at this point in time, but if you ask him, his intentions are pretty clear.” Tanenbaum continued to explain why Ujiri is here to stay. “Masai has a contract that goes for another two years — this season and next season.”"
His contract expires following the 2020-21 season. But for now, it’s time to breathe a collective sigh of relief. It appears the architect of the Raptors is not going anywhere for quite a while.
9. Nurse Finds His Groove
The world finally got to know the quirky coach who does press conferences with a monogrammed ‘nn’ cap. Prior to being named the head coach of the Raptors in the summer of 2018, Nurse was an assistant on Dwane Casey’s staff. When Ujiri called for a culture change, it meant that Casey was out and Nurse was in.
After a strong season, it was in the playoffs that Nurse showed off his coaching chops. Bringing his guitar along for the ride, he was very strategic in his play-calling and decision-making. This may have been most evident by his ability to out coach the Milwaukee Bucks veteran, Mike Budenholzer.
In the finals, the NBA lauded Nurses for his defensive alignments. There was significant attention paid to the box-and-one defense the team played. Nurse knew that the key to victory was shutting down the two-time MVP, Stephen Curry. The choice made Nurse look like a genius in just his first year as a head role in the NBA.
Nurse has continued his strong play calling, taking advantage of his team’s strengths this season. There may be no better example of this than the Raptors 30-point comeback win against the Dallas Mavericks on December 22.