Lasting from April 13 to June 13, the Toronto Raptors truly had a magical two-month run on their way to capturing Canada’s first-ever NBA championship in 2019.
This week, we’re celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Raptors’ historic win, with a list of moments you may have forgotten about.
Ok, fine, we’ll show the shot one more time too…
Fine, here’s Kawhi’s dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo against the Bucks:
Ok ok ok ok… Here’s the parade:
Now, here are 19 moments you may have forgotten about… or maybe you remember them all. Either way, enjoy:
1. It didn’t start off good at all
Easy to forget now, but the phrase “same old Raptors” was uttered by more than a few people after Game 1 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic. Kyle Lowry scored zero points in that game and was criticized heavily for it.
He would eventually make up for it though.
2. Nick Nurse became a meme
Nick Nurse’s reaction to a three-second violation called on Fred VanVleet during the first quarter of Toronto’s win against Orlando in Game 4 will live on forever. You may have forgotten the foul, but you’ll never forget this face:
Nick Nurse is a legend. He really held this face for 11 seconds. pic.twitter.com/3U5aGybxnV
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) April 21, 2019
3. They won every game that Kawhi didn’t lead them in scoring
Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors in scoring in 19 of 24 playoff games, which isn’t surprising. What you may have forgotten about though is the Raptors’ record in the five games he didn’t lead the way: 5-0.
Among the games that Kawhi didn’t lead Toronto in scoring was the championship-clinching game when Lowry and Pascal Siakam led all Raptors players with 26 points each. Siakam also scored a team-high 32 points in Game 1 of the Finals.
4. Raps fans made fun of Embiid’s airplane celebration
The Philadelphia 76ers took a 2-1 series lead after they blew out the Raptors in Game 3. Joel Embiid was great that night, and had no trouble rubbing it in everyone’s faces.
Well, while the Raptors blew out the 76ers in Game 5 in Toronto, fans gave Embiid a taste of his own medicine.
Fans in Toronto doing the airplane for Embiid as he checks out in q4.
8:58 to go. Raptors lead 101-73. pic.twitter.com/oV7XhblTJq
— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) May 8, 2019
5. Drake Curse was used to Toronto’s advantage in Game 7
The infamous “Drake Curse” was all the rage prior to Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, with the Toronto rapper not even attending the game in his usual courtside seat.
After the game, Drake shared a video on Instagram, revealing that he was wearing 76ers shorts while watching the game on television, successfully using the curse against Philly.
View this post on Instagram
6. Ibaka stepped up in Game 7 vs the 76ers
We all remember Kawhi’s game-winning shot in Game 7, but do you remember how Serge Ibaka stepped up that night?
Nick Nurse used just seven players in Game 7, with Ibaka coming off the bench to score 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. He also had a game-high +22 rating.
7. Charles Barkley couldn’t stop guaranteeing Raptors wins
After declaring Toronto to be his “favourite city in the world” prior to Game 3 against the Bucks, Charles Barkley had a popular prediction for the game in front of fans in Jurassic Park.
"I'M GUARANTEEING!" 😂
Chuck's got a message for Jurassic Park! pic.twitter.com/aBiDOjREVm
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 22, 2019
He was right on both occasions, as well as in the NBA Finals, when he was one of the few people to pick the Raptors to defeat Golden State.
8. Fans interrupted TNT broadcast to sing O Canada
After levelling the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2, it was a party in Jurassic Park.
Cheers turned into song, with fans belting out a spontaneous rendition of O Canada. The TNT panel had to stop and sing along.
9. VanVleet couldn’t shoot until his kid was born
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) May 24, 2019
Prior to becoming a father in between Games 3 and 4 in the Eastern Conference Final, VanVleet was having a terrible playoffs. He averaged just two points per game against Philadelphia, and began the series against Milwaukee with 3.3 points per game.
But after Fred Jr. was born, Fred Sr. became a star. VanVleet scored 13 points in Game 4, 21 points in Game 5, and 14 points in Game 6 — all wins for the Raptors. He was excellent in the Finals too, averaging 14 points per game, to go with tenacious defensive play.
10. Nobody thought the Raptors would beat Golden State
The Raptors weren’t a popular pick heading into the NBA Finals.
Take this article from Sports Illustrated, where all seven of their experts picked the Warriors to win in six games or less. ESPN, meanwhile, listed the likelihood of Golden State winning the series at 75%.
11. The Raptors trailed in every series except the Finals
Though it ended in triumph, the Raptors didn’t make it easy on themselves on their run to the Finals. They trailed in each of the first three series, 1-0 vs Orlando, 2-1 vs Philadelphia, and 2-0 vs Milwaukee.
12. Viewing parties popped up all over the country
If there was any doubt that the Raptors were Canada’s team, that was put to rest in the Finals. Viewing parties popped up all over the country, with fans from coast-to-coast getting on board. Games on TSN and Sportsnet also regularly set NBA television viewing records in Canada.
13. Obama came to Toronto for Game 2 of the Finals
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 3, 2019
The NBA Finals had no shortage of celebrities in attendance, even for the games in Toronto. The biggest celeb was former US President Barack Obama.
14. People were obsessed with everything Kawhi said and did
From his insistence that he was a “fun guy,” to the story of him trash-talking on the court with the phrase “board man get paid,” it didn’t seem to matter what he said or did, fans couldn’t get enough of Kawhi.
This included a rare moment of the Fun Guy speaking a couple words of Mandarin with a Chinese reporter.
15. Nav Bhatia became a rockstar
Superfan Nav led a "Let's go Raptors!" chant in the Oracle stands after the game ended. pic.twitter.com/fI2Tk0SkvG
— ESPN (@espn) June 6, 2019
He was already a Toronto legend, but Nav Bhatia became internationally known after the Raptors made the NBA Finals. The Superfan’s amazing story was told everywhere, leading to him participating in the Raptors’ championship parade and receiving his own championship ring.
16. Warriors owner shoved Lowry
Charging into the stands in an attempt to keep a ball in play, Kyle Lowry was understandably upset when he was shoved by a fan as he was getting up.
Except he wasn’t just a fan. The shover turned out to be Mark Stevens, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and minority owner of the Warriors since 2013.
Lowry wasn’t impressed.
“He reached over and put his hands on me for no reason,” Lowry explained to ESPN after the game. “Then he said some vocal words to me and repeated them repeatedly. In our league, there’s no place for that. Honestly, I hope he’s never allowed to come to an NBA game, because he shouldn’t have did that.”
17. Warriors players trash-talked Drake, then lost 3 of 4
“See you in the Bay, Aubrey. You weren’t talkin’ tonight, were ya?”
Those were the words of Klay Thompson, who along with the injured Kevin Durant met Drake in the hallway after their Game 2 victory to level the series. Drake had been running his mouth, and even trolled the Warriors by wearing a Del Curry Raptors jersey to Game 1.
Despite that Golden State swagger, the Raptors won three of the next four games — including all three played in the Bay Area.
18. Durant returned briefly and scared the crap out of everyone
Durant did eventually make his series debut in Game 5, and he started off on fire. The former MVP scored 11 points in 12 minutes, draining all three of his three-point attempts.
If you were a Raptors fan, you had to be terrified that he would spark a Warriors comeback. Golden State wound up winning that game, but lost Durant to injury for the remainder of the series.
19. Lowry saved his best for last
No player had been through more with the Raptors franchise than Lowry, which is why it was appropriate that he came up big in the title-clinching game.
Lowry scored all of Toronto’s first 11 points, as they went on an 11-2 run to start the game in Oakland. He ended the game with a game-high 26 points, to go with 10 assists, seven rebounds, and three steals.