‘The Raptors are amazing': Support for Canada’s team grows as they win Game 3 of NBA finals
Canadians from coast to coast came together to cheer the Toronto Raptors to a 123-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Sporting raincoats and ponchos, Raptors fans lined up for hours in the rain to get into Toronto’s Jurassic Park. While Game 2 of the NBA Finals didn’t go quite as they had hoped, fans remained dedicated, with many saying there is no other place they would rather be on a wet and soggy Wednesday evening.
“It’s very powerful,” Toronto-resident Efaz Kamal said of Jurassic Park. “You won’t see any place like this anywhere else in the world.”
Mallory Fanthem, a self-proclaimed “bandwagon hopper,” told CTV News Toronto that she came to the dedicated fan-zone when the Raptors were playing the Milwaukie Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The atmosphere, Fanthem said, was unlike anything she had experienced.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I actually just like how the city comes together and unites for the Raptors.”
And it wasn't just Toronto residents bracing the weather for Game 3. One family waiting in line was from Australia.
“The Raptors are amazing,” said 10-year-old Josh Wright. ““I want to be with all the fans to watch the Raptors. We are going to win!”
The 905 cheers on the Raptors
About 20,000 people gathered at Mississauga’s Jurassic West, formerly known as Celebration Square, for Game 2 and city officials expect similar numbers for the rest of the series.
"I think it's amazing, I think they've been doing great, obviously they've really come a long way,” one fan said.
Not to be outdone, Brampton opened its own Jurassic Square, located near Main and Queen streets.
“They’re uniting a lot of cultures together,” said one Raptors fan. “Coming here, no one’s judging anyone. Everyone’s uniting and watching the game, going for the Raptors.”
Support for the Raptors across the world
According to a recent poll, about 55 per cent of Canadians believe the Raptors will win the finals.
Coast to coast, Canadians are showing their love for the team. Local “Jurassic Parks” are being set up in many other cities so that fans have a place to congregate during the NBA Finals.
Some Toronto Raptors fans have even flown to California to see the team play.
“I’ve been to five playoff games and they’re 4-1,” said Ricki Liorti. “I’m a good luck charm.”
“The Raptors need me down there.”
In Oakland, where Golden State fans vastly outnumber Raptors fans, some locals are throwing their support behind Canada—just to see another team win the championship for a change.
“I want to see Toronto win so they can get their first championship. I love Canada,” said one resident.
“I just want to see what another team could do aside from the Golden State Warriors just winning,” said another basketball fan.
Road closures were in place in the downtown core
As a result of the game, a number of road closures were in effect throughout the night in the downtown core, just outside Scotiabank Arena.
The following road closures were in effect from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m.:
- York Street from Bremner Boulevard to Front Street
- York Street from Bremner Boulevard to Lake Short Boulvard, but residents and business owners will be able to access this area
- Bremner Boulevard from Lower Simcoe to Maple Leaf Square
“With ongoing construction in the area surrounding the arena and street closures in effect, fans are encouraged to ride the TTC and GO Transit when heading to Maple Leaf Square,” a news release issued by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said.
The Toronto Raptors now have a 2-1 lead in the series.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Nick Dixon