Roaring Raptors fans go quiet as Warriors win Game 5 of the
Almost 20,000 rapturous Raptors fans cramming a downtown arena and tens of thousands more across Canada watched in disbelief Monday as the home team lost by a single point to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of their first NBA Finals.The roars that had echoed through cities and towns across the country fell quiet as the Raptors failed to become the first team outside of the United States to win the championship.Fans were in agony as their team came back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter – until the Warriors pushed back ahead. Some clasped their hands in prayer. Others bounced nervously on their feet. The crowd went quiet as one final buzzer-beating attempt to steal the game went wide.Outside the arena, thousands wearing ponchos and huddled under umbrellas jammed the Jurassic Park fan zone, had spent the night bursting into chants of “Let’s Go, Raptors!” A soaking wet Sam Patenaude had lined up at 7 a.m. to get into the zone.“It’s better than being inside. There’s so much energy. I love it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, or hockey, or basketball, we support our team. That’s what Canada does.”Earlier in the day, the smell of legal marijuana wafted through the damp air as a lineup snaked halfway around the large arena amid optimism the Raptors would take home the title.Before the tip-off, Grammy-winning R&B singer Monica, best known for her chart-topping duet “The Boy is Mine” with Brandy, performed the Star-Spangled Banner. It was largely left to fans to belt out O Canada.Roberto Bernabe said he flew by himself to Toronto from Cebu City in the Philippines on Sunday and went straight to the Jurassic Park line-up and slept there overnight. The 45-year-old Filipino said he’s been a fan since seeing them play in 2014.“I immediately became a fan,” said Bernabe, sporting a sign reading: “Raptors fans from the Philippines.”Allen Agco and Iris Ilano flew from Vancouver on Monday morning to get a spot in Jurassic Park, where some had been camping out since late Friday.“We had to be part of the fans and the craziness,” Allen said.For those unable to get to Toronto, versions of the Jurassic Park fan zone, with its large screens broadcasting the games, sprang up across the country.In Montreal, enthusiasm for Canada’s lone NBA franchise was enough to create the unthinkable: A major downtown street was closed off Monday night so fans could cheer on a team from Toronto. For the first time, part of Peel Street became a Montreal version of Jurassic Park.Fans in Halifax watched at block parties, while about 13,000 filled Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, to watch on the MaxTron – the largest screen in Canada. At more than 630 square metres, the screen is bigger than a standard NBA basketball court.“It’s crazy. It’s been just phenomenal to see the turnout,” said Sharon Christie, who was in the stadium. “I did live in Toronto when the Blue Jays won the world series, so this is the next comparable thing.”Police said they were expecting 25,000 spectators at Mississauga’s Celebration Square – dubbed Jurassic Park West for the occasion, while others filled a movie theatre in Vancouver.Some, however, were disappointed. Officials in Guelph, Ont., cancelled their viewing party, because it was too windy to inflate the outdoor screen. But the Niagara Falls were lit up red in honour of the Raps, while fans in Rockford, Ill., hometown to the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet, crowded their version of Jurassic Park.Toronto Mayor John Tory – wearing a gold-and-black Raptors blazer – waded into the crowd at half-time, cheering with fans and posing for pictures.“They’ve been out here all day … and it was pouring rain,” Tory said of the fans in Jurassic Park. “Other NBA cities are taking notice.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the national anthem had “never sounded better,” Trudeau tweeted in both official languages.Online ticket-resale site StubHub said Monday’s game was its all-time NBA leader in sales. The highest ticket sold on the site for Game 5 was listed at $27,500, it said.