TORONTO RAPTORS PARADE
It was an incredible experience attending the Toronto Raptors Parade yesterday, June 17th 2019 at Nathan Philips Square. With an estimated turnout reaching hundreds of thousands in the square, and close to 2 million fans total, throughout the city core, the energy was truly electric. The parade travelled along a 5km stretch – a sea of red, purple and gold, screaming fans and flags, horns and perpetual chanting – beginning at Exhibition Place and ending in front of Toronto City Hall.
We were situated to the left side of the stage at Nathan Philips Square, among a vibrant and diverse crowd of Raptors enthusiasts and took a few snaps of the festivities. The mood of all the onlookers was actually as bright as the sun during the perfect weather of this historic day.
The Toronto Raptors Parade was the first of its kind in the history of the organisation. Formed as an NBA expansion team during the 1995 NBA season, the Raptors have achieved the ultimate honour in professional basketball – bringing an NBA championship home, to the North.
This was an amazing start to the summer. I’m looking forward to covering more events and helping creatives and organisations involved in culture and arts capture their audience online.
TORONTO RAPTORS HISTORY
The Toronto Raptors are a Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario. The Raptors compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. The team was founded in 1995 as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies. The Raptors have been the only Canadian-based team in the league since the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver, British Columbia to Memphis, Tennessee prior to the 2001–02 NBA season. The Raptors play their home games at the Scotiabank Arena.
Like most expansion teams, the Raptors struggled in their early years, but after the acquisition of Vince Carter through a draft day trade in 1998, the team set league-attendance records and made the NBA playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Carter was instrumental in leading the team to their first playoff series win in 2001, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals. During the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, they failed to make significant progress, and Carter was traded in 2004 to the New Jersey Nets.
After Carter left, Chris Bosh emerged as the team leader. For the 2006–07 season, Bryan Colangelo was appointed as general manager, and through a combination of Bosh, 2006 first overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani, and a revamp of the roster, the Raptors qualified for their first playoff berth in five years, capturing the Atlantic Division title. In the 2007–08 season, they also advanced to the playoffs, but failed to reach the post-season in each of the next five seasons. Colangelo overhauled the team’s roster for the 2009–10 season in a bid to persuade pending free agent Bosh to stay, but Bosh departed to sign with the Miami Heat in July 2010, ushering in yet another era of rebuilding for the Raptors.
Masai Ujiri replaced Colangelo in 2013, and helped herald a new era of success, led by backcourt duo Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors returned to the playoffs the following year and became a consistent playoff team in every year of Ujiri’s tenure. Under Ujiri, the team also won five Division titles and registered their most successful regular season in 2018. However, the team’s failure to reach beyond the conference finals prompted Ujiri to fire head coach Dwane Casey shortly after the playoffs concluded and conduct the high-profile trade of DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green later that summer, as well as acquire Marc Gasol before the trade deadline. In the 2019 playoffs, the Raptors won its first Eastern Conference title, and advanced to the franchise’s first NBA Finals, where they beat the Golden State Warriors in six games to capture their first championship.
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