The City of Toronto led by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly declared Monday as ‘Raptors Day’ to thank the NBA club for its incredible season as described by Vernon Chang (MoVernie) from the scene.
“As I walked over to the Nathan Phillips Square, I saw the main stage was set up near the entrance of City Hall,” Chang said. “A flag bearer came out with the Canadian Flag followed by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, some City councillors, Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey, Greivis Vasquez and Raptors famous mascot.
“Mayoral Candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory were both on hand to witness Raptors Day wearing their Raptors playoff gear. Kelly made the declaration in front of the crowd.”
There was not a lot of notice given for Raptors Day although it was all over social media the day before and a lot of people found out about the event at the last minute. It wasn’t as if the Raptors had won an NBA title or even a Conference championship, but this team had given the City a lot more than was expected this season and in a City starved for a winner or even the hope of a winner, that was more than enough reason to celebrate.
“Honestly, I didn’t know about this special Raptors Day Event until a Raptors fan tweeted it to me on twitter,” Chang said. “Quite honestly, the moment I heard about the idea of a Raptors Day, I wasn’t sure. I mean, it was great that we had a great season, unexpected accomplishment by this group of players but do we really need to celebrate a 1st round playoff exit? That was my initial reaction and my reaction and fear that other NBA cities would be laughing at us for celebrating something other than a championship.
“But as I looked back, hey, it was a tough loss in the 1st round of playoffs, playing a Game Seven and losing by 1 point at home to the Brooklyn Nets. But with a city where fans are hungry for success, the thousands of dedicated fans who stood outside in the cold and rain during the entire Raptors playoff had demonstrated a re-born interest in the Toronto Raptors. I have a number of people who told me that they started watching the Raptors because everyone is talking about it, the city is talking about it and it’s exciting to watch. People told me that when they think of Raptors, they think of me because I have been a die-hard Raptors fan year-in and year-out. Therefore, I think it’s quite fitting that the City of Toronto proclaimed May 12, 2014 as Raptors Day!”
The celebration went off without a hitch and the Deputy Mayor expounded about the Raptors season and showed some love to Vasquez, the Raptors most outgoing player.
“The Deputy Mayor started off by saying ‘Good Raptors Morning’,” Chang said. “He talked about the amazing run by the Toronto Raptors. That it had united the hearts of many fans across the city and across the Country. Going from losing a number of games at the beginning of the season to the Rudy Gay trade, then rebound, winning games and made history with the most wins in a franchise season. Then the playoffs, the first round playoff series was the most watched in the franchise history.
“The best moment was when Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly gripped Greivis’ hand and said ‘If the Raptors don’t sign you, I will sign you’, that’s when the laughter broke out”
The City of Toronto showed the Raptors a lot of love during the playoffs, filling Maple Leaf Square and lining up down the block to watch the games on the big screen outside of the Air Canada Centre through rain and cold, for both home and away games. Raptors Day reflects the fans appreciation for last season and perhaps more importantly, the City’s expectations for next year.
Special thanks to MoVernie for the great pictures.