When the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA title in 1999, Phil Jackson famously said it was an asterisk championship. Because it was Jackson saying it and not Mike Dunleavy Sr. there was a lot of traction about the concept.
It’s hard to win a title and whoever makes it through the marathon is deserving of everything they have earned. But an idea introduced cannot be overturned and so here we are with the 2019 champions being considered an asterisk because of all the Warriors injuries. But if this was Philly and Joel Embiid no one would be saying it was an asterisk championship. They are saying it because the Raptors are a bunch of good players with a superstar. The Raptors biggest bling is on the sidelines. And they are in Canada. It’s hard for us to be able to crown someone out the country when the team in this country suffered the fate of Job.
The Raptors earned the right to be given all of the accolades every champion receives once they win. When Magic was hurt in the Finals and the Pistons won, no one said the Pistons win was tarnished. When Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were unable to participate in the 2015 Finals, no one said the Warriors were lucky. What everyone said was the NBA has just changed.
But it’s Toronto. The Raptors don’t get respect. They play in Canada. They have the quiet man as their superstar. Fred VanVleet, an undrafted player, torched the Warriors defense. The Raptors don’t captivate the American sports landscape and is partly reason why this Finals had ratings in games 1-5 that was in the toilet.
Americans don’t really care about the Raptors. They aren’t the culture. They aren’t the tribe. So it makes it so easy to discredit and discount what they accomplished.
The Raptors played the two time NBA champions and won. They took the NBA champions logo Strength in Numbers and strangled them with it. They were deeper. More skilled. Hungrier. They had a two way player superstar who already had been Finals MVP and the Warriors Finals MVP was in rehab. With the exception of one moment, Nick Nurse outcoached Steve Kerr. Draymond Green was the best player on the floor for the Warriors, each and every game, doing unbelievable things to control the game, lead, compete but the Raptors countered that with size, athleticism and determination.
The way the Raptors played in the Finals is the way they played all year. They were younger at key positions, energized, and were willing to be creative on defense. They deserved to win.
Does that mean if Kevin Durant was in this series the ending would have been different. No. It means the Raptors dominated the team that was in front of them. The Basketball Gods wanted to teach the Warriors some humility and humility was forced upon them in droves. The Houston Rockets couldn’t beat the Warriors without Durant. Stop with the asterisks garbage.
The Raptors won. They deserved to win. They shut down Oracle for all time, in an epic way. Defeat was in the Bay blood. The Raptors came. They happened. They were last man standing. 2019 champs.
Deal with it America.