As It Happens

Raptors fan says he might be 'changed as a person' after watching Game 6 up close in Oakland

Toronto actor Ennis Esmer flew to California from Vancouver, where he's shooting a TV show, to watch the game live from the Oracle Arena.

Actor Ennis Esmer flew to California from Vancouver take in Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Raptors fan Ennis Esmer captured the Canadian spirit at Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif. The Raptors clinched the title on Thursday night. (Ennis Esmer/Instagram)


As Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said, "We wanted to win in Toronto, and we've won in Toronto."

Of course, if you want to get technical about it, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship in Oakland, Calif., Thursday night when they defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6.

But the victory rang out across the country and in the hearts of Raptors fans everywhere, including those inside the Warriors' arena. 

Toronto actor Ennis Esmer was one of those fans. He flew to California from Vancouver, where he's shooting a TV show, to watch the game live from the Oracle Arena.

He told As It Happens host Carol Off what it was like to witness the historic victory. Here is part of their conversation. 

What was your mood [Friday] morning when you woke up?

Honestly, I don't think I've ever felt happier in my life. I don't know what that says about me, or obsessing over sports, but I don't know. The team I love is the champion. 

Was there a particular play or moment that stayed with you?

It was all of them. It's been 24 years of rooting for this team and waiting to experience what it's like to be in the NBA Finals, let alone winning it.

Esmer, a Canadian actor and Toronto Raptors superfan, got to watch the Game 6 victory live from the stadium in Oakland, Calif. (Ennis Esmer/Instagram)

What was it like to be in Oracle Arena [Thursday] night? What was the mood there?

You know, it's the last game they're ever going to play there and there's all these storylines with Kevin Durant being hurt and, you know, tensions have come up from some lousy fans cheering for injuries and things like that, so it was tense.

It was tense but, I mean, you couldn't help but get caught up in it. I had goosebumps.

And, of course, the last 0.9 seconds of the game were just, I mean, extraordinary to watch. On TV, it was extraordinary to watch. What was it like to be there?

It was so bizarre because, you know, in situations like that it helps, I think, to have broadcasters clarifying what's going on.

Seeing a player call a time out when their team doesn't have one, I haven't seen that since Chris Webber did it when he was playing for Michigan, which, you know, it's like an infamous thing that happened.

So we were trying to figure out what was going on a lot of the time. It was weirdly — I don't want to say anticlimactic — but just so bizarre.

It was just insane. I think, you know, we waited 24 years. It was OK to wait a few minutes longer to reach that goal.

Why was it so important to you to be there last night?

It's interesting. I've been thinking about it this whole time. Like, I do feel like it's a little bizarre to be this into sports. You know, I can't really explain it. It's something from the first time my dad took me to a Jays game at Exhibition Stadium when I was six. It's just something that bonded us together.

We were supposed to go to Game 7 if there was one, but he was actually relieved we can't, because he was telling me he couldn't handle it. Like, he can't even watch the games live. He has to flip over to another channel and then go back to it.

When it's fun, it's like the most fun, thrilling thing there is to be a fan of a team that's doing well and, you know, getting to know all these players, albeit superficially.

It was just special. 

Toronto Raptors fans pose for a photo outside the arena prior to Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

But when a story has been 24 years in the making like this one, and you have been part of that story ... as a spectator, you have a lot invested in it, don't you?

I was texting with friends ... and l was telling them that I think I might be actually, like, be changed as a person now a little bit.

It just seems like we were chasing this thing for so long and it's about respect and recognition for your city and what they're capable of.

What happens now? The Raptors have captured the imaginations of this whole country. Do you think that they can sustain that?

Yes, definitely. I think we're going back to the finals next year. I think Kawhi Leonard is going to stay in Toronto and, you know, we're going to see him at Nathan Phillips Square, he's going to be skating, he's going to do all kinds of things, he's going to go to Poutini's, he's going to become an honorary Canadian, if he isn't already.

I mean, we're the champions until this time next year. So I think the whole country should just enjoy it, and Raptors fans all over the world.

We'll be back for sure. 

Written by Sarah-Joyce Battersby and Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Ashley Mak. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 


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