In the history of NBA’s 24-season, Toronto Raptors reached the final for the first time. However, the Canadian team did not stop there. They went ahead to win the NBA championship. This sent fans across Canada into a frenzy. According to a CNN report, Drake will celebrate the victory with new music. The Toronto Mayor, John Tory said June 17 will now be celebrated as “We The North Day”. In a statement, Tory said,
“Winning the NBA championship is the perfect ending to a historic season and is a result of the professionalism and hard work exhibited by the players, coaching and training staff and the ownership of the Toronto Raptors. This victory is also for the passionate Toronto Raptors fans, who are the best in the league and filled Jurassic Parks in Toronto and across the country. This championship is the culmination of years of patience, support, devotion, and beliefs. Toronto has proven that it is a basketball city and that the game thrives in The North.”
The African brains behind Toronto Raptors NBA Championship
The entire Canada is celebrating the NBA championship. However, the brain behind is a Nigerian-Kenyan basketball executive, Masai Ujiri. In a few years, Ujiri moved from an unpaid NBA scout with Orlando Magic to a historic NBA championship with Toronto Raptors. His ability to discover players and seal deals helped assemble a roster of players for the historic job. However, his most-defining deal was signing Kawhi Leonard last summer. Consequently, the former NBA champion with San Antonio Spurs went on to score the most postseason points. This earned him the Finals MVP awards.
Toronto Raptors beat Golden State Warriors 114—110. The win over Golden State Warriors is a great deal. This is because Golden State Warriors are ranked as one of the all-time greatest. Also, the team has won three of the last four NBA championships. However, Ujasiri is not the only African in the Raptors historic win. Serge Ibaka (Congo) and Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) are also part of the team. However, it was Ujiri that signed the two Africans into the team.
Another cap to Ujiri’s firsts
Notwithstanding winning the NBA championship, Ujiri still keeps himself out of the limelight. Although born in Bournemouth, England, the shrewd manager moved to Nigeria with his parents when he was 2. His father is originally from Aviara in Delta State in Nigeria. However, his mother is a native of Kenyan Kamba people from Machakos.
Ujiri left Nigeria at 13 to play for a prep school in Seattle. Consequently, he played with different teams before working as an unpaid scout. In 2003, the Denver Nuggets hired Ujiri as an international scout. Follow his NBA championship, Espn reports that The Washington Wizards are offering him the position of the presidents of basketball operations. The offer comes with $10 million annual salary and potential equity.
However, this is not the first time Ujiri is getting a major accolade. In 2013, he was named NBA executive of the year. This made him the first non-American to win the award. It is likely that he will win it again this year.
Reactions trailing the Raptors NBA championship win
The NBA championship win by the Raptors led to a massive celebration across Canada. Both fans and experts have been commenting on the win. One of such comments was from John Campbell, University of Toronto’s men’s basketball head coach. Campbell said,
“There’s no question that right now there is an entire nation behind the Raptors. Certainly, in my lifetime I’ve never experienced a sort of energy like this in our country.”
Mike Bossetti, a journalist who has been covering Raptors for the past four seasons said,
“It’s truly been remarkable to see the entire nation of Canada rally behind just one team. Over 50% of Canada has tuned in to at least one portion of the NBA Finals.”
Consequently, “Ka-Wine & Dine” has kicked off a campaign to offer Leonard free food for life if he doesn’t leave as a free agent this summer. Many restaurants in the city have jumped on the campaign.
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