OAKLAND, Calif. — The Toronto Raptors won their first-ever National Basketball Association championship on Thursday night.
Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam scored 26 points apiece to lead Toronto past the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
It’s the first time in NBA history that a team based outside of the United States has won the league’s title.
Toronto had not appeared in an NBA Finals before this season. The Raptors entered the NBA in 1995.
The title also ends a 26-year drought since a Canadian team has won one of the big four North American professional sports championships. The last team to do it was the Toronto Blue Jays, who won the 1993 World Series.
Since then, Canadian teams have been shut out of championships in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the NBA. There is no National Football League franchise in Canada.
Thursday’s victory was the culmination of a series of moves by Raptors president Masai Ujiri to create a championship-calibre team designed to win it all this season.
Ujiri’s first — and biggest — trade was to send beloved superstar DeMar DeRozan, young forward Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs for superstar Kawhi Leonard and defensively minded sharpshooter Danny Green.
Acquiring Leonard came with a timeline, as the 2014 NBA Finals MVP is scheduled to become a free agent this summer. Leonard reportedly made it clear to Spurs management that he intended to sign with one of the two teams in his hometown of Los Angeles as soon as he became a free agent.
Ujiri made additional moves ahead of February’s trade deadline, most notably getting centre Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for centre Jonas Valanciunas, forward C.J. Miles, guard Delon Wright and a 2024 second-round draft pick.
Gasol’s impact on the Raptors was felt throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs as he stiffened Toronto’s defence and added another threat from three-point range.
The Canadian Press