The Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals with a 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of their series. We can talk all we want about X’s and O’s of the game, but I’ll leave that to Raptors HQ and Golden State of Mind.
President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri built the team with a combination of savvy draft picks like Pascal Siakam in 2016, bold trades like bringing in Kawhi Leonard who will be a free agent on June 30 and of course, keeping some key players like Kyle Lowry. Ujiri was also willing to fire then-head coach Dwane Casey after the 2017-18 season despite the fact that the Raptors won 59 regular season games that year.
This video by Tifo Basketball summarizes their journey to the NBA championship very well.
Before Ujiri came to Toronto, the Raptors only made the playoffs twice between 2002 and 2013. One of those reasons is because the city wasn’t viewed as a desirable place to play.
Toronto isn’t in the United States. It’s in Ontario, the largest province in Canada, and many American players are hesitant to live in another country. Also, the winters can be quite cold.
Even after this NBA championship, Toronto is probably not skyrocketing past Los Angeles and New York City as destination cities for star free agents, most of whom are Americans. And that is what make their NBA championship that much more remarkable, and to be quite frank, awesome.
Like Toronto, Washington isn’t viewed as a destination city to outsiders even though it’s a really great place to live. But with the right front office management that is willing to take some risks, I don’t see why Washington can’t do the same.
But for now, I’m really happy to see that the Raptors won the 2018-19 NBA Championship.
Congratulations, Toronto Raptors!