THIS DAY IN SPORTS: NBA aberration north of the border

Presented by POOL SCOUTS.

This Day In Sports…June 13, 2019, five years ago today:

A historic night for the Toronto Raptors—and for Canada. The Raptors became the first team from outside the U.S. to win an NBA championship, and in the process put a dent in the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty. Toronto took the series four games to two by beating the Warriors 114-110 in their final game at Oakland’s Oracle Arena after 47 seasons. (Golden State would move across the bay to the new Chase Center in San Francisco to begin the 2019-20 season.)

The MVP of the series was Kawhi Leonard, a former San Diego State Aztec who went to Toronto that season after an acrimonious split with the San Antonio Spurs. Due to injury, Leonard had played just nine games for the Spurs the previous season. The Raptors might not have so much have made the Eastern Conference Finals had not Leonard made an off-balance three-pointer that bounced four times on the rim before dropping to win Game 7 of the Eastern semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the first buzzer-beating shot in a Game 7 in NBA history. Leonard averaged 28.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the Finals.

“Basketball has come full circle in Canada, invented by a Canadian, the first NBA game was in Toronto and now an NBA championship,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said before presenting the trophy to the Raptors. It was the first title in one of the big four North American sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL) for a Canadian team since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. Hundreds of Canadian fans had made their way to Oracle to pull for the Raptors, and they boisterously sang “Oh Canada” as players took pictures with the trophy.

Golden State had won three of the previous four NBA titles but were hobbled without injured star Kevin Durant. There was another key injury for the Warriors, although it was kind of after the fact. But it came at a crucial stretch of the decisive Game 6. Klay Thompson, one of the Splash Brothers, suffered a torn left ACL during the third quarter and would miss the first 55 games of the following season. Today, Dub Nation waits to see if Thompson will ever play for Golden State again as the Warriors decide whether to retain their aging star.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)



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