(Pittsburgh,Pa) For the first time since 2015, it won’t be either the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers, and although the Cavaliers finished 19-63 after the departure of LeBron James, it took getting past the Warriors for that new champ to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. That new champ is the Toronto Raptors, who clinched Game 6 in a 114-110 thriller for their first NBA Championship in franchise history (Toronto entered the NBA in  1995).

In one of the most exciting NBA Finals in years, the Raptors stunned the Warriors in Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago style to win the NBA Finals 4 games to 2. And after blowing a potential clincher in Toronto Monday night, the Raptors will now bring the trophy home from Oakland. Most didn’t give the Raptors a chance against the Dynasty that is the Warriors, who had won 3 of the last 4 NBA Championships, but this underdog of a Raptors team found a way and they have one man to thank in F Kawahi Leonard, the offseason acquisition who was named Finals MVP after averaged 28.5 points per game on 43 percent shooting overall, and scoring 22 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in the clincher. He also averaged 26.6 points per game during the 2018- 19 season.

Leonard made history as becoming the first NBA player to win NBA Finals MVP in both conferences (He also won in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs) and joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to win the award with multiple franchises.

“We brought it home, baby! This is what I play basketball for. I’m happy that my hard work paid off.” Said Leonard as the confetti fell all around him at Oracle Arena, home of the Warriors.

It was truly a game for the ages as both teams fought back and forth for the lead after the Raptors stormed to an early 10-2 lead off the shooting of G Kyle Lowey, who finished tied with Pascal Sickam for the team lead with 26 points, but the Warriors stormed back to make this a game, thanks to the shooting of G Klay Thompson who had 21 first half points and finished with a game-high 30 points before leaving the game in the 3rd quarter after a dunk.

Each team traded leads before the Raptors took the lead with over 4 minutes left, and never relinquished it, which was redemption after doing the same in Game 5, only to lose it 106-105. 2nd-year player Fred VanFleet was truly the hero of the night as his 3-pointer gave the Raptors the lead and broke the backs of the defending champion-Warriors.

The Raptors are also the first Canadian team in NBA history to win a championship. Although they are the only Canadian NBA team to date, they came into the league with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who eventually moved to Memphis in 2002.

For the Warriors, they didn’t go out without a fight. They made it tough for the Raptors and showed why they won those 3 rings. Many will say what hurt them was the injuries, especially to F Kevin Durant and Thompson, but they still had Steph Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins to give the Raptors fits. In Game 6, Curry finished with 22 points, Green with a Triple- Double with 11 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists, Cousins with 12 points and Andre Iguodala with 22 points.

After congratulating the Raptors, Curry said “I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage again next year.”

Now comes the offseason as both teams could see major changes on their teams when the free agent period hits June 30th. Finals MVP Leonard is a free agent as are Warriors players Durant, and Thompson. Time will tell if they will stay with their teams, or if they will go. But you can bet that the Raptors and their fans aren’t thinking that far ahead yet, as they are truly enjoying their One Shining Moment as NBA Champs.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

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