The Toronto Raptors became the 2019 NBA champions Thursday, and they are the first team outside the US to do it.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals was tight, going back and forth between the Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. But the Raptors took the game in the end with a 114-110 for a 4-2 series victory.
The match ended the 2019 championship series and was a first-time win for the Raptors, who made their NBA Finals debut in their 24th season.
Kawhi Leonard, the All-Star forward Toronto acquired last summer from San Antonio, was named Finals MVP for the second time. Leonard is the third player to win the award with more than one franchise, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.
Raptors point-guard Kyle Lowry and forward Pascal Siakam put up spectacular performances as well, each with 26 points.
For the Golden State Warriors, it was a must-win battle at home at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where they were the defending champs and were aiming for their third title in a row and fourth in the last five years.
Just when things seemed to be tilting in the Warriors favor in Game Six, they suffered another devastating injury.
All-Star shooting-guard Klay Thompson fell to the floor after attempting a lay-up and was left clutching his knee, with the Warriors announcing later that he had torn his ACL.
In an incredible display of toughness, Thompson returned to the court, completed his two free-throws before being helped to the locker-room.
It was all too familiar for the Warriors. The team was playing without two-time NBA Finals MVP, Kevin Durant, who in Game 5 of the NBA Finals was helped off the court after suffering an Achilles injury, while his team went on to win the game 106-105.
It was the last ever game for the Warriors at Oracle Arena, 47 years after its opening as the Oakland Coliseum. The team will move next season to the Chase Center in San Francisco.
The Toronto Raptors, the only active Canadian franchise in the NBA, became the team of not just the city, but of their nation, according to the mayor of Almonte, a town more than 360 miles from Toronto.
And some big Canadian names took to social media to celebrate.
Drake, a Canadian rapper and fan of the team, announced on Instagram that he will release two singles in celebration of the Raptors’ success.
Canada’s Prime Minister tweeted his congratulations.
“HISTORIC!” said the Toronto Maple Leafs. Canada’s teams have had a title drought since 1993 in four major North American sports–NBA, MLB, NHL and the NFL– and the Raptor’s win broke the trend.