The Toronto Raptors top 10 moments of a franchise-altering 2019

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Raptors 2019 Toronto Raptors Championship Rings (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. The Ascent of Pascal Siakam

One of the most interesting stories in basketball belongs to the Raptors power forward, Pascal Siakam. It’s a tale of improbability. The protagonist, as a teenage boy in a Bafia, Cameroon seminary school, only occasionally dribbled a basketball and never dreamed that it would one day be his vocation.

The plan from the father and teacher of the young Cameroonian was for him to one day become a priest. Siakam had other plans. Though he didn’t know it at the time, basketball was going to become a big part of his life. Even when he joined his friends in 2011 to participate in Luc Mbah a Moute‘s basketball camp, Siakam was more interested in soccer. He was 17 at the time.

Siakam returned to one of Mbah a Moute’s free camps the following year. He turned heads that time and was selected to participate in Ujiri’s initiative, Basketball Without Borders. Siakam parlayed that experience into playing college basketball in the United States, just like his three brothers before him had done.

Siakam began his American schooling with a scholarship at God’s Academy in Lewisville, Texas, and then transferred with a scholarship to New Mexico State the following year. Despite having only begun playing organized ball since age 18, Siakam was named WAC Freshman of the Year in New Mexico. He followed that up by earning the WAC Player of the Year honors the following season.

Once again, Siakam was turning heads. He had played well enough to be a first-round pick of the Toronto Raptors, going 27th in the 2016 draft. When he was assigned to the Raptors 905 in the D-League, he made the best of it by winning a title and being named the Finals MVP.

The world was only starting to learn about Siakam. He showed his potential when he first joined the Raptors. In 2019, we witnessed what Ujiri always thought was possible; Siakam had transformed into a star. This was recognized by the NBA, who named the forward the league’s Most Improved Player.

That wasn’t even the ceiling for Siakam. This season, while still in the same calendar year, Siakam has been included in the NBA’s MVP conversation. While his injury won’t help him earn the award, it’s been an incredible year for the man who has turned himself into a legitimate superstar.

1. The Championship

There is no doubt about the top slot for the Raptor’s 2019. There was a long road for the team with a giant payoff. The team did something he had never done despite being in the league since 1995 when they played their home games at the SkyDome. The Raptors not only made it to the NBA Finals, but they took care of business in the series and won the league championship.

The Raptors managed to bring a title to Toronto for the first time in their history and the fans responded. There may not have been or ever will be a scene as insane as the Raptors championship parade and it had nothing to do with how lubricated Gasol had gotten. The downtown core was packed with people who all wanted to catch a glimpse of the 2019 champs. The players’ buses took hours to even get started because of all the fans who wanted to join in the celebration.

The Raptors earned every victory and with them, also found a spot in the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast. This was not just a team’s title, but a nation’s. Canada had basketball fever with people watching Raptors games for the first time. The Raptors’ success was on everyone’s minds in the spring.

The ‘Chip was enormous. It will forever be marked in the record books and will surely have an impact on the sport in the country for decades.

Next. Three players who need to step up during the injury crisis. dark

What are some of your favorite moments of the year? Let us know in the comments below.