Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka, middle, celebrates with Larry Tanenbaum, left, and George Cope after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Toronto Raptors and their diverse team celebrated worldwide

Team is made up of players from the U.S., Canada, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Spain

The Toronto Raptors became Canada’s team even before winning the NBA Finals, but international news headlines on Friday suggested they are now celebrated as world champions.

The team — which became the first NBA franchise outside the U.S. to clinch the title — is made up of players hailing from several countries including the U.S., Canada, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Spain.

News outlets took note of that diverse roster after the Toronto team’s victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

“Globalization is the star of the NBA,” a headline on the Washington Post stated.

“A global NBA now has a truly global champion” the Associated Press declared.

Media outlets in some countries chose to highlight connections to homegrown heroes in their coverage.

Cameroon celebrated Pascal Siakam, who didn’t begin playing basketball until he was in his late teens. He has morphed into a rising star in the league despite his late start in the game.

“I didn’t think I could make it,” Siakam said after the game. “And I think a lot of kids don’t think that it’s possible. Just me being able to be here today and telling them that, ‘Hey, look at me, I was a little scrawny kid from Cameroon … but here I am, as a champion.”

The Journal Du Cameroun championed the champion with its headline that read, “Pascal Siakam, first Cameroonian to win NBA.”

In Spain, where Raptors big man Marc Gasol is from, the Catalan News blared the headline “Catalan brothers become first siblings to both win NBA crown,” a reference to Gasol and his brother Pau who won two championship titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. The pair were born in Barcelona.

Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American born in California whose parents are Taiwanese, was front and centre for one Asian outlet.

“Jeremy Lin becomes the first Asian-American to win an NBA championship as Raptors take game six,” blared the headline in the South China Morning Post.

Lin is also huge in Toronto, which has a thriving Chinese and Taiwanese community. Sing Tao, a Toronto news site, went big on Lin, splashing photographs of the depth-player celebrating the championship with his mother.

READ MORE: Raptors president Masai Ujiri accused of assaulting sheriff’s deputy in Oakland

Meanwhile, team president Masai Ujiri, who was born in England and raised in Nigeria, was big news back home.

“Ex-Nigerian basketball player becomes 1st African general manager to win NBA title,” one Nigerian headline said.

Closer to Canada, Rockford, Ill., showed its pride in hometown hero Fred VanVleet by hosting its own version of the outdoor Jurassic Park fan zone that became wildly popular in Toronto. VanVleet returned the love.

“Rockford, Rockford it’s for you, baby!” declared the headline quoting the player in the Rockford Register Star.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anticipated adverse weather leads to ferry rescheduling, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii

Sailing for the Northern Expedition, Skidegate has been revised by BC Ferries

Three fires in two days

Fires crews kept busy in Prince Rupert

UPDATE: Power restored after outage in Prince Rupert

Power was out in the entire downtown area for a time on Sunday afternoon

Landlord Lows – Using tools are vital

Rental responsibilites and landlord lows

New LNG terminal near Prince Rupert proposed

AlaskCAN International LNG wants terminal just over Canadian border, but using B.C gas

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

Furstenau flays NDP as she launches B.C. Green Party leadership bid

LNG, Site C dam wrong for environment, Cowichan MLA says

Woman guilty of dangerous driving crash that left Saanich girl, then 11, unresponsive

Nikirk guilty of one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Victoria-area wolf tranquilized after being seen running around neighbourhood

Officials say wolf unharmed during its ‘arrest’

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read