It’s the first NBA finals in franchise history, and the Toronto Raptors are feeling the love.
“You know in the playoffs you get to see everybody outside the arena, and seeing how excited they are for the game,” said Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors forward.
But Raptors fans aren’t just in Toronto, they’re popping up across the country.
“Why not follow the Raptors right now, they’re killing it!” said Daniel Issac.
“Pretty excited! been waiting for it for a long time, since the franchise was built, honestly,” said Raptors uberfan Mackenzie Humphrey.
“I’m going to be watching all of it!” said another fan.
And some say the Raptor’s recent success is bringing a new generation of kids in Steve Nash’ hometown to the game.
“Sunday morning [after the Raptor’s Eastern Conference final win] I woke up excited. I looked across the street – live across from a basketball court – and I saw kids playing,” said Dylan Marsden, who puts on local summer basketball camps with Passion Sports.
“They’re going to the courts, they’re turning off their Xbox, they’re turning off their tv’s. This is how the Raptors can help basketball in this country, and it’s definitely showing in this city so far.”
When the Vancouver Grizzlies made their NBA debut in ’95, Victoria’s Amateur Basketball association says registrations skyrocketed, and they’re expecting a similar response this upcoming fall with the Raptors run.
“I think it’s growing quite a bit since I was younger, I think there are quite a bit more basketball fans,” said a Victoria-based basketball fan.
Catching a live game for many islanders will be close to impossible. Tickets are going for up to $60,000 in Toronto, but here in Victoria fans can watch for free!
Tillicum’s Silver city movie theatre is hosting viewing parties for each game. Or the adults can head to your local watering hole for a pint.
“It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be packed,” said Chantal Bouchard, GM of 5th Street Bar & Grill.
“It’ll be more or less a sea of red here, you know, everyone is going to be supporting so come early cause you want to get your seat!”
The historic Game One of 2019’s NBA Finals goes Thursday night.