The NBA 2018-19 ended in a way that could be nothing, but now is everything. The long and tough journey the Raptors and Warriors got in until the last game was pretty hard. Both teams suffered with injuries like Kawhi Leonard and his knee, Kyle Lowry and his thumb, Durant and his calf and Achilles and Klay Thompson and his knee. However, it’s important to point out that the Toronto Raptors first championship is for real.
Since NBA teams have to manage players’ health so they can reach the main goal, that is to win the title, the one who won, managed this better. More than that, the Raptors wasn’t highlighted by the media and were kindly underrated until the series against 76ers. Besides, the Warriors faced some struggles and had significant wins on Western Conference Playoffs. They were solid and bonded with their dynamic offense. Curry, Klay and Draymond could handle the situation without Durant without worries.
On the other hand, the Raptors surprised the basketball world beating the MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in 6 games after losing the first two games of the series. Which made them to reache The NBA Finals to then, eliminate the Warriors and get the first championship to Toronto. However, there are way more interesting facts that make this title so unique. You can check each one of them right here below.
NBA Risking Business
Masai Ujiri, Raptors GM, took a hard decision on that shocking trade. After renewing Demar DeRozan’s contract for 5 years in 2016, he suddenly trade him for Kawhi and Danny Green of Spurs in July, 2018. Leonard basically didn’t play the 2017-18 NBA season due injury problems and miscommunication with Spurs franchise board. He didn’t want to play for the Spurs anymore and demanded a trade.
Masai took the risk to receive an incredible superstar like Kawhi, but no one knew if he was 100% good and also he was under an expiring contract. Besides this risky attitude, he fired Dwane Casey and hired a former G-League, and Dwane’s assistant, Nick Nurse. He was criticized by these audacious attitudes, but now it seems that the NBA world is a risky business that you have go deep inside to achieve the main goals.
The Klaw, as Kawhi is called by many fans, faced one of the most unbelievable overcomes in NBA history ever. And maybe the word “karma” should be under this awesome narrative. It’s good to remember that Kawhi got injured against the same team he defeated on this Finals. It was on game 1 of Western Conference Finals against the Warriors when he played for the Spurs.
The former Warriors player, Zaza Pachulia put his foot under Kawhi’s left foot after a shot attempt and caused an injury on his ankle. There is still a lot of buzz that indicates that Zaza did this on purpose, but if it’s true or not, this was the beginning of Kawhi path to 2019 Finals.
He recovered from that ankle injury, but got another one and lost the confidence in Spurs’ medical staff. He got traded to a team that no one believed that he could win the title and now he is the 2019 Finals MVP of a franchise he played for only one season.
Not So Outsider Champion
Nick Nurse is the Raptors coach. It was his first season as an NBA coach. This means he joins Pat Riley, Steve Kerr and Tyron Lue on the list of new NBA coaches that won in their first season. Nick could be considerate as an outsider, but he got a lot of experiences before. by coaching in G-League and being Dwane’s assistant.
NBA Championship Brothers
Playing for the Raptors and winning the title after the trade from Memphis Grizzles is something fantastic for Marc and either his brother, Pau. They became the first brothers to have an NBA championship. Pau Gasol did it twice with the Lakers in 2008 and 2009.
The Jurassic Park is now an epicenter of happiness and celebration. There was a lot of Raptors fans that stayed on line at least 8 hours before game 5. This is just an example of how Canadians love to cheer for their teams. Yes, there was that unhappy moment that some fans cheered when Durant got injured in game 5, but this doesn’t blur the fact the Raptors fans know how to be loud and supportive.
Should They Stay Or Should They Go?
Kawhi and Gasol had the player option on their contract. This means they could choose between opt out the contract and test the market or stay with the team. Gasol chose to stay, but Kawhi chose to joing the Clippers in a move that made everybody surprised. Danny Green case was smoothly different because his contract expired and he joined the Lakers. These three players were some of the main pieces of that championship and now Pascal Siakam seems to be the new face of Raptors franchise.
NBA Title To Heaven
Pascal Siakam has an amazing story. He is from Cameroon and fell in love with the game of basketball because of his late father. He often says that every game and every positive situation that basketball gives to him, he dedicates to him. Imagine how happy was to feel the taste to be an NBA champion and dedicate this to the man that taught how to love and play this game.
7 Is A Good Number
You probably know that it’s necessary to have five players on the basketball court, seven on the bench and three non-listed players. This is very common in NBA. The coach has some specific players to be part of the rotation. But in the other hand, Nick Nurse practically used only seven players in most of these Finals. The rotation was around Lowry, Green, Kawhi, Siakam, Gasol, Vanvleet and Ibaka.
Nike Has It All
Nike came back to be the official NBA sponsor in 2017-18 season. The world’s biggest sports brand launched amazing jerseys with a new design that impressed everybody. However, the 2018-19 season became special for the brand. It’s the first time that a team conquered the title without never wearing former brands uniforms. Besides that, this iconic NBA jersey is now part of the history since it’s the championship jersey.