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

40 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta

Province’s central zone still has no active cases

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

Broncs to hold virtual camp, free of charge

Broncs Virtual Camp for grades 6 to 11 will begin June 9

Still no confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer, central zone

There are 15 new confirmed cases were in Alberta, the province said Thursday

UPDATE: Poster contest extended

Kids have one more week to get their entries in

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

Red Deerians protest against racism on Saturday

This was the third protest in the city this week

‘It’s brewing’: Inmates, guards worry about violence after COVID-19 lockdown

‘Thirteen weeks in a cage the size of your (bathroom) has been pretty devastating’

Feds sign $105-million deal with Bombardier for two new Challenger jets

Department of National Defence announced the deal with Bombardier on Saturday

‘Alarmed:’ Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Public Health Agency of Canada does not collect information on long-haul truckers

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Most Read