Game 7 vs. The 76ers 2019 (the face of our title)
We all knew this was coming. Within the city of Toronto, this game is a “remember where you were when…” moment on par with political assassinations and world events.
What can we say? It’s the first clip in Kawhi Leonard’s career highlight real, the most iconic shot in the history of our franchise, the face of the Raptors title run, and one of the most hideously beautiful basketball games of the past decade.
Hideously beautiful isn’t rare for Game 7s. Everyone is dialed up to 11. There’s too much adrenaline and testosterone and screaming for the players to ever get comfortable and play just a regular game. The winning team only shot 38.2% from the field.
This game was incredible to watch, but it goes beyond the moment. It goes beyond the highlights. It even goes beyond basketball.
Kawhi Leonard’s shot was a pivotal moment in Raptors history.
Sports have a strange and weirdly important effect on their cities. Despite how popular they are, despite the strength and fanfare and billions of dollars at play, you don’t really expect sports to change a city so completely. Well, this game is a case study of how that concept plays out.
Toronto, like plenty of other sports cities, was conditioned to reject happiness like a bad kidney transplant. This fanbase was so beaten down, so shattered by decades of failure after failure after failure, that this shot completely changed their outlook.
With one shot it was as if Kawhi Leonard snapped the ropes tying Toronto down. He blew the roof off of Scotiabank Arena. With this shot, and this game, the 2019 Raptors taught a city to hope again. That’s the power sports can have. That’s why this is the most important game in Raptors history.
And really, it’s not even close.