Toronto erupts to bask in Raptors' historic win

Toronto Raptors fans celebrate atop a bus after their team beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch their maiden title on Thursday night.
Toronto Raptors fans celebrate atop a bus after their team beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch their maiden title on Thursday night.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TORONTO • Thousands of jubilant fans stormed the streets of Toronto early yesterday morning, sparking off unbridled celebrations as the Raptors became the first Canadian team to win an National Basketball Association championship title.

They lifted their maiden trophy after beating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 in Oakland, California, to clinch the Finals series 4-2 on Thursday night.

Thousands of supporters dressed in the Raptors' red and black had gathered in pubs and bars across Canada's largest city to watch the biggest game in the country's basketball history.

At the final buzzer, they poured out into Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square chanting the team's rallying cry, "We the North", as fireworks were set off and confetti rained down.

The landmark CN Tower was also bathed in gold light while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted in both English and French: "And that is how we do it in the North."

The party also extended from coast to coast and even all the way up to the Arctic Circle.

Jurassic Park, a public space for viewing parties outside Scotiabank Arena - the team's home court - inspired cities across the country, including Vancouver, Halifax and Mississauga to set up copycat fan zones.

In Montreal, a city known for its passionate sports rivalry with Toronto, authorities closed off two downtown streets to allow fans to watch Game 6 and the fever spread as far as Rankin Inlet, a small Arctic town some 2,280km to the north.

The frenzy also set records for ticket prices - Game 5 seats soared as high as C$10,000 (S$10,250) while it was the most-watched broadcast of the year, with 13.4 million viewers tuning in - more than a third of the country.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2019, with the headline 'Toronto erupts to bask in Raptors' historic win'. Print Edition | Subscribe