It never ceases to amaze me how a long playoff run by a Canadian sports team can bring the entire country together in support of that team.
In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed that in 2015 and 2016, when the Toronto Blue Jays made it all the way to the American League Championship Series (ALCS), and when the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team won gold in 2010 and 2014. I’m witnessing it happening again, now with the Toronto Raptors.
What I noticed during the Olympic and Blue Jay experiences is the competition or series was a topic of conversation everywhere from business offices to people’s living rooms; by everyone from regular viewers of these teams to those who just started watching them because of the potential of a championship victory. People who didn’t watch any sports, or those who didn’t usually watch that particular sport, were tuning in, to find out if there was a reason to celebrate, and were talking to their friends about it. People from all walks of life were sporting jerseys of those teams to show their support.
Now, Canada is coming together to support the only NBA team in this country. Recently, the CN tower glowed Raptors’ red, and the “We the North” slogan was displayed on the tower as well. Similar to what I mentioned in the above paragraph, I have been seeing a lot more people wearing Raptors gear in the last couple weeks.
In both the playoff runs I mentioned before this Raptors run, I was the fan avidly watching the team or sport long before the playoff success. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started, but I have watched Blue Jay games since I was in my tween years. Also, people who regularly read this column will know how much I have enjoyed watching hockey games over the years, cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs and celebrating Canada’s success internationally in the sport. But, what may surprise people, since I am such a big sports fan, is that, up until recently, I have never watched a Toronto Raptors game, or even an NBA game.
Professional basketball never really interested me enough in the past for me to watch a game. But, since the Toronto Raptors were making their first trip to the NBA finals in their franchise history, I decided to watch the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the series, and I found it to be quite exciting. It is one thing to just read the scores of the games and know of some of the best players in the game, but it is yet another thing to see those players in action, and how the game ended up with that score.
I found myself captivated by the defensive blocks and the shots players were able to make.
It was because of this experience I decided to watch Game 2 of the series in its entirety.
It was probably the first time I experienced watching a professional playoff series game as a “casual fan.”
No matter if the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors, to win the NBA championship, or not, at the very least the team can say they united an entire country behind them, and got me to watch a professional basketball game.
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Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy