We all know that we live in a pretty damn good country, may I even say a great country.
Like many others we have our faults and we are far from perfect – but pretty damn close to it. We have seen incredible moments before that have united us a nation, as a people and as a family. This is why the Raptors winning the Eastern Conference Championship and heading to the NBA finals is so significant.
We are in the midst of another unifying moment, another moment to define history in Canada.
Now some readers may think that celebrating a sports victory is ridiculous, that calling it a defining moment in Canadian history is absurd. I disagree. What is transpiring across the country and dare I say, around the world, is definitely worthy of heartfelt recognition and genuine celebration.
What is happening now transcends sport. It has become a moment for every Canadian, regardless of race, religion, colour or creed to come together and celebrate. Basketball fans near and far (and possibly those that never paid attention before) are now standing, cheering, celebrating, and most importantly – loving OUR basketball team.
In turn they are loving one another.
We have waited almost thirty years for a moment in sports like this dating back to the Blue Jays’ last World Series win.
Ask any fan that’s been there since the beginning (twenty-four years ago) what it’s like to witness the Raptors today. I think they’d all agree that it’s truly breathtaking. The way our homeland has come together to celebrate this team and this moment is truly admirable.
I know I’m not the only admiring fan out there who cried Saturday. I know I’m not the only suffering fan who watched Jurassic Park and the adulation of thousands of fans with a tinge of envy. I wanted to be there so badly; to jump up and down and cheer alongside my basketball kin. I think every fan from coast to coast that wasn’t there Saturday night absolutely wanted to be. I think many people new to the team also wanted to be there. Seeing the media coverage of thousands of fans singing O Canada gave me the chills. The fact that not a single arrest was made left me with goosebumps.
Toronto and Canada should be extra proud of that fact.
If anyone saw the interview with Nav Bhatia and have read any of the articles written in the last few days about his life and his undying love for and dedication to the Raptors – this is why this moment is important. This is why despite all of our differences, sport can and will unite us. This is why fans love sport, for moments like this right now.
Thursday night is coming fast. Everyone across the nation (die hard or casual fan) are on high alert, waiting and wondering what’ll happen. Even the curmudgeonly skeptics are curious. I know that the country will be rocking again. I know that we will be giddy with pride.
The fans have faith in our team, we know they can win. I also know that, despite winning or losing, the legacy of this Raptors team will live on long after the NBA Finals are over.
Their legacy will go beyond the final game, the final score, and whether or not they take the championship. Their legacy will live on as a team that brought together a nation; that united people across a country in outright love and glorious sportsmanship.
That legacy is more important to me than all the championships a team can muster.