To view history from a distance is quite a saddening at that moment, cause one truly misses out on the spirit of the time and place. I found myself in an Orlando Buffalo Wild Wings, vape smoke lingers throughout the outdoor seating area, indifferent laughter is rampant, and I was the only solo patron of this establishment.
In Game 1 of the 2019 NBA finals, the Toronto Raptors played versus the league’s new superpowers, the Golden State Warriors. Tonight is the first time an NBA final’s game would be performed within Canada. Not like it’s a genuinely Canadian accomplishment, none of the players on Toronto’s roster are Canadian, but it’s still fun for the citizenry of the maple leaf republic, I guess. To sports historians, especially those writing upon basketball, this day will become a footnote and factoid of the annals.
The Wild Wings has a few bandwagoning Warriors fans, with one of them yelling “WU!” at absurdly random intervals. Sandwiched in between car commercials and car insurance commercials the ABC broadcast would sometimes show the Toronto fans outside of Scotiabank Arena in what has been called the Jurassic Park. In the simplest slang terms, these Canadian basketball fans seemed pretty lit.
Based upon the ratings as I write this article, ABC has experienced poor rating when showcasing Raptors games. Meanwhile, Sportsnet has been celebrating record-breaking ratings. So it seems based upon the statics Canadians are loving seeing the Canada based team make a run while Americans don’t care about the great white north. Canada has one of the longest histories with basketball. James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, was born in Almonte, Ontario, Canada. That being said like all other nations, Canadian basketball has been overshadowed by the utterly dominant play of their border buddies. There are plenty of talented Canadian basketball players such as Andrew Wiggins or Tristia Thompson, and hopefully, this series inspires more Canadians to take up the sports. I hope this series will help extend and expand the global reach slash influence of basketball. But honestly, it is just shaping up to be an excellent time for Canadians that will be relatively ignored by the basketball culture at large.
The entire affair of this game was heavily immersed in symbolism. To myself personally, it is quite nice seeing the unity of nations in a significant event, sporting or otherwise. I must say the renditions of both O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner were brilliant, unlike Kyle Lowry’s performance. Drake also trash talked Golden State players while his owl logo littered the giveaway t-shirts. A positive connected vibe had been created, and I wish I were sitting there instead of a bar seat at a below average franchise.
To summarize the game itself, Toronto played well against a diminished Golden State squad, with Pascal Siakam unleashing his final form to score 32 points, gather eight rebounds, and manage five assists. So not only did Canada go about hosting its first NBA Finals game but also received it’s very first NBA Finals win ever.