Sports, at their very best, provide an escape from the outside world.
To say the year 2020 has been challenging from a global perspective would be an understatement. And through it all, Canada’s global sports team has provided some respite for its fans near and far.
These Toronto Raptors fans from around the world wanted to share what this season meant to them and how their favourite team gave them hope in a year often overshadowed by darkness.
Helen Stratigos Scarborough, Ont.
Through this surreal, isolating, often depressing year, the Raptors brought a steady source of light. Knowing I’d witness their heart-stopping plays, brotherly love and fierce passion for the game on certain evenings kept me afloat during many grim, anxiety-filled days.
This particular group of players — from Lowry’s sweet interactions with his sons, to Serge Ibaka’s crowdsourced talent shows, Norm Powell’s faith, and Fred’s consistently spunky offence — is unforgettable. Despite the rollercoaster-like insanity of many games, this team brought adventure, and for me, joy. Thank you Raptors from a lifelong Torontonian and forever fan.
Sebastián Rubio Carmona, Lima, Peru.
Seeing the Raptors play again after the suspension due to the pandemic gave me great joy, because they came back excited, and eager to give everything. Despite the final result, they made me jump for joy when they recovered, and that is the most valuable thing about this team, their perseverance. We The North.
Kerry Johns Garcia Perez, Cardenas, Cuba
I do not have a shirt, or sweater, or anything about Toronto, I just know and I feel that I carry the Toronto Raptors in my heart. I felt identified with that team and in this year where nobody trusted us because Kawhi left. We knew how to show that Toronto is more than Kawhi. Toronto Raptors is passion, love, courage, bravery, is to feel united as a hobby and as a team ….. together we will achieve great things.
This is my humble opinion about the Toronto Raptors … I want you to know that from Cuba there is someone who supports you in the bad and good moments … Cheer up Toronto!
Danieth Pryce, Mississauga, Ont.
In 2019, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl and while I was home on maternity, I decided to watch some sports on my down time. I watched all the Raptors games as they became champions. Fast forward to 2020, and I have developed so much more love for the team. I couldn’t afford to miss even one game. I started to believe that without me being before my TV screen, praying and cheering them on, they could potentially lose the game. It might seem crazy, but there is some encouragement that I gained from watching the Raptors play that I have applied to my everyday life.
Nadine Martin, Milton, Ont.
This year has been quite the turn of events … but one thing that remained on a high note was Raptors basketball. I don’t go out much, but found myself scheduling in Raptors game at 7 p.m. and had a weekly online chat interaction with a Facebook group of fans (hey, my social life started to pick up!) This type of interaction started to spill into my work life. While at work, I barely have time to build team camaraderie, but I found myself interacting with another co-worker the day after games. I found this to be fun because I believe some people might find me to be disengaged from office banter.
Not only do the Raptors believe in each other, they believe in social justice and believe that every man, woman and child deserve a chance of freedom. They led the way in echoing justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American emergency medical technician who was fatally shot by Louisville police and still hasn’t received justice in light of the civil unrest in America.
Could this be the secret sauce? Sport mentality; we are a team, we win when we all do well; I shine, you shine; together we can; we have a plan, let’s execute for success for everyone; divided we fail; we do it for the people.
Now wouldn’t the world be a winning, better place?
Niall Gittins, from Hamilton, Ont., living in Cozumel, Mexico
I’m living full-time on the island of Cozumel with a curfew, social distancing and other restrictions in place. Our main industry is tourism so the majority of business here has been shutdown since mid-March. My daily activities have been restricted to online video gaming with friends, television or anything I can do within my household. After last year’s championship, I was excited for the prospects and promise of this season and I’ve noticed, perhaps because there are less distractions, I’m really focused on the players, performance and the games overall. It’s been a good distraction.
Pierre Rochefort, Paris, France
I’m a Raptors fan for several years now. It started just after a trip to Toronto for TIFF and a crush on the incredible duo of DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. The outsider spirit, the chip on their shoulders, all those details made me love and cheer for the dino-ballers until now.
Whatever occurs in everyday life, I always get a moment to refill my batteries and get inspired by the team and the unity that breathes among true-hearted fans. I will for sure witness a game in the Jurassic Park when the COVID will be beaten by … the Celtics, the science, or … humankind.
Shamira Tranqui, Toronto, Ont.
The Raptors made my heart skip many beats, always keeping me on the edge of my seat, anxiously awaiting dunks, deep threes and free throws. I haven’t always been a fan of basketball, but when my 9-year-old son, Dawson, fell in love with the game, so did I.
2019 was bittersweet, as I was mourning the loss of my mother who passed away on May 19. When the Raptors advanced to the finals, it lifted my spirits. It gave me something to look forward to and cheer. And then they won, making us all proud.
Alessandro Meneghin, from Pieve di Soligo, Italy, living in Zitacuaro, Mexico
I’ve been waiting for 25 years to win the title with the Raps and it’s finally here. This year and the past year teaches a lot about perseverance, heart and willingness to fight in a basketball court and also in real life. There’s not too big an obstacle to overcome if we have faith in ourselves, and somehow we have the support of our team, family and friends.
Antonella Dupras, Timmins, Ont.
Thanks for a an amazing season, guys. You were able to give us all a break from all this craziness going on around us. Watching the games was like having a family get together, that during this pandemic, we were unable to do! Thanks for putting joy in our lives … I will always be a proud Raptors fan. Looking forward next season. WE THE NORTH FOREVER!
Emir Nezirović, Yugoslavia, currently on an oil rig off the coast of Norway.
As a offshore electrician that is not permanently on an oil rig, sometimes there are a lot of weeks off. So I got to watch all Raptors games during August and early September. Fortunately, I got called back to work recently … but unfortunately I did not get to see Game 6 and 7 against the Celtics.
The Raptors have given me lots of excitement and mostly joy throughout a boring pandemic summer. Seeing Kyle Lowry give 110 per cent in every game, finally sweeping somebody in the NBA playoffs, Fred VanVleet playing great, OG Anunoby’s buzzer beater, all of these things have actually made 2020 a little bit better.
Carolyn Pedoniquotte, Wasauksing First Nation, Ont.
The Raptors blazed a trail for all other teams to follow, by setting franchise and NBA records this season. Overcoming odds that were set by others, and inspiring a country to believe in them and ourselves. I take pride in this team, and all they’ve achieved. They are simply amazing!
Annie Tong, Toronto, Ont.
The last three years was when I really started paying more attention to the Raptors. I was honoured to be part of the history when they won the championship in 2019! I can’t be more proud to be a Canadian, and even more proud to be a Torontonian!
During this difficult time everyone has been affected emotionally. Watching the Raptors fighting their way to the Eastern Conference semifinals uplifted my spirit so much. Although they lost Game 7, one thing I know and learned for sure, is that, as long we don’t give up and keep playing the game, there will always be a miracle (a.k.a. 0.5 seconds with a three-point shot can make a huge difference). You’ve just got to believe and keep fighting and we shall overcome!
Dhruv Medepalli, Singapore
The Raptors for me, although with the break and then playing from the bubble, provided a sense of normalcy through the past year. In these difficult times, it was comforting to see the Raptors do what they do best.
Seeing Siakam appear in his first all-star game as a starter, FVV hitting career high numbers, the emergence of a new bench mob and Nick Nurse being nominated for coach of the year makes me think that we had a great year. I’m a proud Raptor fan.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
What was your highlight from the Raptors season? What are you going to miss about them most in the post-season? Share your thoughts: