We needed that. In the year of no spring, at a time when our leaders seem to be giving up on the future itself, in the grey days after yet another Maple Leafs let-down, we needed a hero.
Kawhi Leonard is that hero.
We’ll be replaying The Shot for years to come, savouring every bounce of the buzzer-beater to beat all buzzer-beaters. Thousands of words have been spilled describing it, with thousands more to follow. For us, we’ll just endorse the reaction of the great LeBron James: “!! !! !! !! !! !! !!”
Now, our expert colleagues in the sports department tell us, it gets harder. Maybe too hard for these Raptors. They’re off to Milwaukee on Wednesday and the Bucks are beasts, led by the Greek phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo. Just spelling his name is a workout in itself.
But never mind. That’s for tomorrow. For now we celebrate the artistry of Leonard, along with the grittiness of Kyle Lowry and the determination of Serge Ibaka, who came up big in Game 7.
We applaud the vision of Masai Ujiri and the rest of Raptor management, who stripped down the team last year and rebuilt it from scratch. Barring an utter collapse over the next week (and we know that won’t happen), their gamble has paid off.
The Raptors have made a special place for themselves in the hearts of Torontonians. You don’t have to be a sociologist to see how different a Raptor crowd is from a Leafs or Argos crowd. Basketball is a world game, and this is the team of all Toronto, of the inclusive city we keep telling ourselves we want to be.
Right now they’re writing a great new chapter. And the lead character is a hero who came along at just the right moment.
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