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#pounditWednesday, January 19, 2022

Articles tagged: Toronto Raptors

Rory McIlroy shows off Raptors jersey after winning Canadian Open

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is getting caught up in the Toronto Raptors hype while finishing things off at the Canadian Open.

McIlroy posted a dominant final round 61, good for a score of nine-under and a seven-stroke victory on Sunday. As he walked off the 18th green, he produced a Toronto Raptors jersey in front of the crowd.

McIlroy was actually in attendance for Game 2 of the NBA Finals and seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.

McIlroy is definitely a basketball fan, though he has no obvious ties to the Raptors. If you’re in town and took in a recent game, though, you might as well show some love to the home team, especially with Canada in the midst of basketball fever.

Look: Raptors fans line up for Jurassic Park two days ahead of Game 5

Toronto Raptors fans

The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors will have two days to prepare for a potentially decisive Game 5, but for certain Raptors fans, there’s no time to waste.

Multiple fans had begun lining up at the entrance to Jurassic Park, the open-air viewing area outside of Scotiabank Arena for fans without tickets to watch the game on big screens. The fans began to camp out over 48 hours ahead of tipoff in order to be the first ones in Monday night to watch the Raptors potentially win the NBA title.

The fans all had different stories for why they were there, but they did come prepared.

In addition to the tent, the first two fans in line were armed with a cooler, and a stove — and plenty of food.

“We got three pounds of bacon, a dozen eggs, hot dogs if we really get hungry – those are a last resort, some steaks we picked up from Walmart, a kettle to make coffee and water bottles. We are good to go,” one of the fans, who identified himself as Tyler, told Chris Fox of CP24.

The images from Jurassic Park during games have become one of the most memorable parts of Toronto’s playoff run. It seemed pretty wild how long people waited to get in for Game 1, but this is on an entirely different level.

McDonald’s out millions in free french fries thanks to Raptors’ run

Toronto Raptors

McDonald’s made a promotional deal with the Toronto Raptors that worked out better — or perhaps worse — than they could have ever anticipated.

Last offseason, McDonald’s made a deal with the Raptors in which they would give away free french fries in Ontario whenever the team made at least 12 three-point shots in a game. 18 days later, the team traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, and the company had to be reassured by the Raptors that the deal wouldn’t hurt the promotion.

McDonald’s initially estimated that they would ultimately have to give away roughly 700,000 orders of free fries, but the number ended up being closer to two million, corresponding to about $5.8 million in free fries. The Raptors have hit at least 12 threes in 44 regular season games and ten playoff games.

“Do we want to stop now?” McDonald’s franchisee Mike Forman said, via Jake Edmiston of the Financial Post. “No, we don’t want to stop now. This is good.”

Forman added that the hope is that the promotion will draw more repeat customers, who must download the restaurant’s app in order to redeem the offer.

This will likely be revisited ahead of next season, but for now, McDonald’s and the Raptors can enjoy the ride. They should probably blame Fred VanVleet, or at least his baby, for the uptick recently, though.

Report: Kawhi Leonard has purchased property in Toronto

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has enjoyed tremendous success in his first season with the Toronto Raptors and is the main reason the team is just three wins away from capturing a title, and that has led many to wonder if he will stick around beyond this year. As of now, there seems to be plenty of reason for optimism.

Michael Landsberg of TSN 1050 in Toronto said Monday that he has been told by multiple sources that Leonard purchased property in Toronto. Leonard also owns property in his native Southern California, which was often cited as a reason for his potential desire to sign with the Lakers or Clippers. While pro athletes have real estate all over for investment purposes, Leonard buying property in Toronto seems more significant than if he bought some place like, say, Miami.

Landsberg also had David Thorpe of on his show as a guest, and Thorpe said he has gotten the impression from talking to people that Leonard could re-sign with the Raptors for at least another year or two. The most likely scenario would probably be a two-year deal with an opt-out after the first year, similar to the contracts LeBron James signed when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thorpe said one consideration for Leonard is that the Raptors are already “his team,” whereas he would be hesitant to team up with another superstar and not be the No. 1 guy.

The Raptors took a major risk when they acquired Leonard in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs, and in some ways it has already paid off. Even if he leaves in free agency this summer, he still helped them reach the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

If Leonard does decide to leave Toronto after one season, he has been heavily linked to one team in particular. Still just 27, it’s conceivable that Leonard has enjoyed his time with the Raptors enough to give it at least another season.

Raptors used poor strategy not fouling at end of Game 2 loss

Nick Nurse

The Toronto Raptors used a poor strategy at the end of their 109-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.

The Raptors were down 106-104 after a Danny Green 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds left. There was nearly a 3-second differential between the game and shot clock, ensuring Toronto would get the ball back. But they had to make sure it would be a 1-possession game to have their best shot at tying the game or taking the lead.

Rather than intentionally foul and send the Warriors to the free throw line, the Raptors gambled. They tried going for a steal and did not get one, though they came close on a Steph Curry pass in traffic while double-teamed. Andre Iguodala ended up with a wide open 3-pointer and made it with 5.9 seconds left to make it a 5-point game.

Toronto had two opportunities to foul Draymond Green, who is a career 70.6 percent free throw shooter, but declined to do so. Their efforts going for a steal and double-teaming Curry left Iguodala with a clean look.

Had they fouled Green and he made one or none of his free throws, they could have had a chance to tie the game and potentially send it to overtime. That seemed like their best bet, but instead they tried to go for a steal. It didn’t work out.

The series is now tied 1-1. Game 3 will be on Wednesday in Oakland.

Warriors building area similar to ‘Jurassic Park’ outside new arena

Toronto Raptors fans

The area outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto known as “Jurassic Park” has gained national — and international — attention with the Raptors making a deep playoff run this year, and the concept has become so popular that other teams may look to recreate it.

According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, the Warriors are “quietly” building their own fan viewing area outside the new Chase Center, which is Golden State’s new facility that is set to open next season.

Raptors fans are some of the most enthusiastic in the NBA, and a fan viewing area would not work with all fanbases. It goes without saying that the Warriors are incredibly popular, but their recent success has played a huge role in that. Fans in Toronto are just now experiencing their first trip to the Finals, yet Jurassic Park has been thriving for quite some time.

Those who have seen some of the videos of fans celebrating at Jurassic Park know what an exciting concept it is. It’s been a great way to expand the arena experience, and it’s no surprise other teams are taking note.

Toronto Raptors set another Canadian TV ratings record

Toronto Raptors We the North

The hype over the Toronto Raptors continues to build in Canada as the team sets more and more TV viewership records during their playoff run.

While Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Golden State Warriors did not do well viewership-wise in the U.S., fans in Canada were tuned in. The Athletic Toronto’s Blake Murphy says the average viewership mark for the game in Canada was 3.3 million, which is a record, besting the previous mark set in the conference finals.

Murphy further says the peak in Canada was 4.1 million viewers.

Though the Raptors do not generate a ton of interest in the U.S. and the Game 1 Finals ratings were the lowest since 2009 in the states, the Raptors have been a big hit in Canada. The way they have connected with the fans in Canada is a big step for the NBA.

Raptors fans lined up outside Jurassic Park 15 hours before Game 1

Toronto Raptors fans

To say that Toronto Raptors fans are ecstatic about their team reaching the NBA Finals would be a massive understatement, and they gave us a glimpse at just how much they are looking forward to the game hours before tip-off of Game 1.

How many hours before? About 15, actually.

According to Ryan Rocca of Global News, Raptors fans were lined up in the area outside Scotiabank Arena known as Jurassic Park starting at around 6 a.m. on Thursday. That was 15 hours before tip-off of Game 1, which is scheduled for 9 p.m. One fan actually said she was there since before 4 a.m.

Some fans were outside the arena for the live taping of “Good Morning America,” but many were just waiting as long as necessary to get a good spot inside Jurassic Park, which does not open until two hours prior to tip-off.

If you saw some of the videos of Raptors fans celebrating in Jurassic Park after the team advanced to the Finals, you know just how dedicated the team’s supporters are. It’s no surprise they’re willing to wait an entire day to be a part of the first NBA Finals in franchise history.

Report: NBA spoke with Raptors about Drake’s behavior

Drake Nick Nurse

Drake’s sideline antics during the Eastern Conference Finals were reportedly enough to get the NBA’s attention.

According to Michele Steele of ESPN, the league privately spoke to the Toronto Raptors during the series about Drake’s behavior. This most prominently included the rapper giving Raptors coach Nick Nurse a massage in the middle of a game.

This will also remind many of last season, when Drake got in a confrontation when Kendrick Perkins, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, during the first game of a playoff series. That event also elicited a warning from the NBA.

Ultimately, the NBA probably wants to ensure that Drake doesn’t get special treatment. A regular fan who did what he did to Nurse would almost certainly be ejected from the game, and with the Raptors headed to the NBA Finals, they probably don’t want Drake’s sideline conduct to be any more of a topic of conversation than it needs to be.

Masai Ujiri gives ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey credit for Finals run

The Toronto Raptors made a somewhat controversial decision when they fired former head coach Dwane Casey following his third consecutive season with 50-plus wins last year, but it has turned out to be the right move. And if you ask president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, Casey’s influence is still felt with the team.

While speaking with reporters in advance of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, Ujiri took some time to credit Casey and former Raptors superstar DeMar DeRozan — who was sent to the San Antonio Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard deal — for helping to get this year’s Toronto team to within four wins of a title.

“I want to give Dwane Casey credit. He prepared us for this too,” Ujiri said. “It’s not something that just started in one year. I don’t know that a team can just start in one year. I want to say that Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan are part of this. They’re part of our journey and how far this has come.”

Casey and DeRozan may see the comments as disingenuous considering the Raptors moved on from them, but it was a nice gesture from Ujiri. Firing Casey and bringing in Nick Nurse came as a surprise to many, but those are the types of tough decisions good executives like Ujiri make.