Having the Raptors in the NBA Finals will help significantly boost the league’s global ambition for success, Jerry Brewer writes for The Washington Post.
The NBA enjoys promoting the league and the sport of basketball as a worldwide activity despite having the most of its events in the United States, scheduling games in countries such as England, China and India in recent years. The entire country of Canada has rallied around Toronto in its pursuit of an NBA championship this season, with some dedicated fans even arriving to Sunday’s Game 2 more than 16 hours before doors opened.
“It’s overwhelming because you think, when I look at all the international players we have on our team . . . it’s really brought us together, and I think it says so much because that’s how our city is,” Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said, according to Brewer. “That’s how the country is, that we can all relate to the multicultural or the diversity of Toronto and Canada, and that’s how our team is. They talk in different languages on defense. They talk in different languages in the locker room, and it’s like that in our organization. And being international myself and being from Africa, I’m proud of that.”
The NBA has generated more of a global audience in recent years, and with the success of the Raptors, these numbers could continue to grow. Toronto finished with the second-best record in franchise history this season at 58-24, one game behind last season’s record of 59-23.
There’s more out of Toronto tonight:
- Kawhi Leonard remains the mystery man for the Raptors both physically and vocally, something the team is perfectly content with, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. “I just try to take my experiences and just keep moving forward and just have fun,” Leonard said. “Like I said, just basketball at this point. Win, lose or draw, I’m still going to be living, still got a family. This is all for fun. But for me, it’s just the way I play. Until we win the game or it’s all done, then I’ll show some emotion. But I want to stay even-keeled while I’m going through it.”
- Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com explores how Kyle Lowry became the last Raptors player standing from when he first joined the team in 2012. Since then, Toronto has undergone a series of personnel, coaching and culture changes, culminating in a spot in the NBA Finals this season.
- Masai Ujiri deserves a large portion of credit for getting the Raptors through the Eastern Conference, Washburn writes in a different story for The Globe. Ujiri attributed some of his team’s success to former head coach Dwane Casey and former Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan for helping jumpstart the winning process in past seasons. “To give Dwane Casey credit, he prepared us for this, too. This is not something that started in one year,” Ujiri said as part of a larger statement. “I want to say that Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan are a part of this, they are part of our journey and how far this has come.”