Toronto Raptors fans react inside Jurassic Park, outside of the Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto, as they watch the Raptors defeat the Golden State Warriors in game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship, Thursday, June 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

We the North: Delirious fans celebrate as Raptors win NBA title

Supporters from all over Canada cheer Toronto’s triumph

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors, a team whose magical playoff run sparked civic pride and raucous enthusiasm across Canada, sent fans into fits of unbridled joy on Thursday as they beat the reigning champ Golden State Warriors in a see-saw thriller to win the NBA championship.

Thousands of spectators who jammed Jurassic Park, the fan zone outside the team’s empty downtown arena, to watch Game 6 of the finals on big screens erupted in gleeful pandemonium as the final buzzer sounded.

“This is the best day of my life!” said John Cooke, 35, of Toronto, as the crowd sang the Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”

“What a night! I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!” said Elias Edraki, 35, also of Toronto.

“And that’s how we do it in the North,” Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted above a photo of him, two of his children and a dog watching the game.

Fans had gathered both indoors and at dozens of outdoor venues across the country to cheer on a team from a city many Canadians love to hate, their enthusiasm measured by unusually jammed bars.

“It’s difficult to put into words what this means to me, but my love for my son — and the Raptors — is off the charts,” said John Drzazga, 41, of Grimsby, Ont., whose 10-year-old Dustin roamed the zone in an inflatable dinosaur suit with a two-metre tail.

Dozens of cities across Ontario also held packed viewing events as did many other places from coast to coast, such as Halifax, which threw a massive outdoor block party.

Montreal shut down two city blocks to allow the improbable: people cheering a team from Toronto. Thousands braved the rain, forming a red tide, as organizers handing out “We the North” T-shirts.

One man was booed when he arrived in a blue Warriors T-shirt. But he ripped it off to reveal a Raptors jersey. The Warriors shirt was set on fire, burning until police doused it. Fans in Regina, as they did on Monday, watched on the massive screen at the Roughriders’ home stadium, while Edmontonians headed to the Expo Centre.

Even in Rickford, Ill., hometown to Raptors star Fred VanVleet, fans began a party at 6 p.m. at the newly created Jurassic Park RKFD to watch their local hero perform.

“Fred is an amazing basketball player and a genuinely good person both on and off the court,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said.

RELATED: WATCH: Go, Canada! Raptors beat Warriors 114-110 to win NBA title

In Oakland, Calif., where the Warriors hosted the Raptors, cheers erupted in Oracle Stadium as Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLauchlan performed O Canada and Pat Monahan, of pop-rock act Train, sang The Star Spangled Banner before the tip-off.

Outside Christchurch, New Zealand, a Canadian flag hung on a suburban fence emblazoned, “Let’s Go Raptors” and “We the North.”

The championship win by the Raptors marked the first for a Canadian team in one of the big four professional sports since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series and the first NBA team outside the U.S. to go all the way.

“I remember coming here as an immigrant from Sri Lanka in 1989 and we watched Joe Carter hit that home run for the Jays,” said Subi Mahan, 37, of Pickering, Ont., who was with his two boys, Kiyan, 6, and Kishan, 9. “(So) to be here and share this with my boys is amazing. This is what love is.”

According to latest figures from payments firm Moneris, spending in bars nationally jumped 63 per on Monday from the same day a year ago, when the Raptors lost a Game 5 nail-biter by a single point. Edmonton saw the biggest increase with spending jumping a whopping 279 per cent. Spending in Toronto area bars almost doubled.

Love of the Raptors, with their best performance in their 24 seasons, prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to don his now-signature black-and-gold blazer to visit the gathering crowd Thursday.

“It is beyond comprehension that people could be down here, huddled under these makeshift tents, for hours on end, more than a day, overnight,” Tory said. “It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s been such a terrible spring, but they’ve been here week after week, day after day, and they’re the greatest fans in sports.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

UPDATE: One woman taken away on stretcher after three-vehicle collision at Maclure and Clearbrook Road intersection

Abbotsford emergency crews are on scene but traffic is slow eastbound on Maclure

VIDEO: Looking back at the 1968 Abbotsford International Airshow

Footage from the past show available to view online

Missing man last seen in Chilliwack Sept. 7

Friends concerned for well-being of 44-year-old Jean Pierre Baril

Abbotsford hospital has ‘extraordinary’ challenges, says health minister as ER construction nears

Construction to begin this fall on expanded emergency department at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Surrey

Investigators were asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Most Read