Toronto

Thousands of Raptors fans celebrate 'unbelievable' NBA championship win

In Toronto, the Raptors NBA championship win sent thousands onto the streets, a sea of people loudly cheering, waving flags, high-fiving each other as they clogged up some of the major downtown intersections.

Game 6 win sparks massive celebrations as fans flood Toronto streets

Some fans shimmied up the traffic lights to celebrate the historic win by the Toronto Raptors. (Albert Leung/CBC)

At the downtown Toronto intersection of Front Street and University Avenue, a young man named Ali joined a handful of fans celebrating the Toronto Raptors NBA championship victory over the Golden State Warriors by climbing one of the traffic light poles.

Asked why he was up there, he simply replied, "We're the six!'

The victory was certainly a celebration for "The 6ix" — a nickname popularized by hometown Raptors fan and superstar rapper Drake. But the Raptors have become more than just a Toronto team, with people across the country celebrating the first Canadian team to win an NBA championship.

WATCH | Fans from across the country react to win

Fans celebrated at viewing parties in cities across Canada, including Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa. 1:19

Dozens of cities across Ontario also held packed viewing events, as did many other places from coast to coast, including Halifax, which threw a massive outdoor block party.

Montreal shut down two city blocks to allow the improbable: people cheering a team from Toronto. Thousands braved the rain, forming a red tide, as organizers handing out "We the North" T-shirts.

But in Toronto, the win sent thousands onto the streets, a sea of people loudly cheering, waving flags, high-fiving each other and clogging up some of the major downtown intersections near the Scotiabank Arena, the home of the Raptors.

WATCH | Jurassic Park reacts to championship win

This is the moment the Jurassic Park crowd celebrated the Toronto Raptors' NBA Championship win. 0:56

The victory was something Winston Kenley had been waiting for his whole life — a life that has existed about as long as the basketball team.

"I'm a little older than the franchise. This is amazing," he said. 

Kenley's reaction — frenzied celebration, jumping up and down, arms in the air, shouting and screaming — was no different than most of the nearly 1,500 fans who had jammed into the main square of Jurassic Park to watch the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6.

Wiping away tears, 64-year-old George Bannon, a familiar presence at Jurassic Park known for his eye-catching Raptors jacket, could barely get the words out to describe his reaction. 

Wiping away tears, 64-year-old George Bannon, a familiar presence at the Park, could barely get the words out to describe his reaction.  (Mark Gollom/CBC)

"Pride, relief.  Unbelievable," he said.  "So happy for our city, our country.  I'm so proud of our athletes. They're the greatest. It's the greatest feeling in the world right now."

Jurassic Park has become a central point for fan celebration in Toronto. Drake sat on the main stage watching the game on Thursday. Toronto Mayor John Tory was in the front row with the crowd, taking pictures with people, mingling with fans.

WATCH | Drake celebrates Raptors championship

Drake speaks with reporters after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. 1:09

"It's unbelievable," Tory said minutes after the historic win. "This is the greatest team. It's the best fans in the world and it's the greatest city in the world, and how could you get any better than that? We're going to have the best parade in the world."

Toronto Mayor John Tory joined the 1,500 fans inside the main stage area of Jurassic Park to watch the game. (Albert Leung/CBC)

Subi Mahan brought his young sons to the Park. He had celebrated with his late father in 1993 when Toronto Blue Jays won their back-to-back World Series Championship. 

"I need to pay it forward so my kids could take it in, as a minority with a multicultural team like the Toronto Raptors," Mahan said. 

"They were forecasting thunderstorms. But the only thunderstorm was us winning the championship."

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      At 4:17 a.m., a male was shot near Yonge and Dundas Square, as Raptors fans celebrated. The victim sustained "serious to life-threatening injuries," police said, and seven people were taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

      As part of the celebrations, some fans set off firecrackers.

      Toronto Raptors fans celebrate with fireworks on Yonge St. (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

      And there were at least a few significant incidents of vandalism. Some fans destroyed the windows of a police car.

      A police car window was stomped out by rowdy revellers. (Albert Leung/CBC)

      At Yonge and Dundas streets, a TTC bus positioned to block the street was tagged with graffiti and had windows kicked out while some fans sat on the roof singing O Canada.

      Toronto Raptors fans celebrate atop and inside a bus on Yonge St. (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

      WATCH | Crowds swarm Yonge-Dundas Square after Raptors victory

      This is the view 38 floors up above Yonge-Dundas Square as Toronto celebrated the Raptors' NBA Championship win. 0:15

      At the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, at least one fan climbed onto the veranda, prompting some to dare him to jump, while others begged him not to.

      "This is unreal. I've waited so long for this. Nothing like it," said Justin Harrison from Hamilton. "I'm not going to sleep for like 10 days."

      Raptors fans were overjoyed at the team's win, a first in franchise history. (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

      Danny Salman, 20, said it was important to come out and celebrate on the street so the Raptors could see the fans coming together in the city.

      "It shows the togetherness of all the fans. I just had to come out."

      "We've been waiting a long time for this," said Barada Saraf, who had been watching the game from a downtown bar. "I don't know what it's like for a Toronto team to win something."

      "Look at this," she said, looking at the massive crowd.  "How can you not be here? It's unreal." 

      In Toronto, the win sent thousands onto the streets, a sea of people loudly cheering, waving flags, high-fiving each other clogging up some of the major downtown intersections near the Scotiabank Arena, the home of the Raptors. (Albert Leung/CBC)

      About the Author

      Mark Gollom

      Reporter

      Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.

      With files from The Canadian Press

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