Several Raptors players, as well as coaches, staff, and a hard-fought championship trophy, returned to Toronto Saturday evening — and the city was ready for them.
It’s their first time back in the city since their historic win in Oakland, Calif., and there was a long line of excited fans at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport ready to welcome home their returning champions.
Airport staff were also prepared for the return of the victorious players, greeting their plane with a water salute display.
Water salute for our champs! Welcome home, <a href=”https://twitter.com/Raptors?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Raptors</a>. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeTheNorth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WeTheNorth</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NBAFinals</a> <a href=”https://t.co/MJnEhbuTf6″>pic.twitter.com/MJnEhbuTf6</a>
Although Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) had said the players wouldn’t be coming back tonight, several them, including Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Danny Green, ended up catching the evening flight back.
Coach Nick Nurse, who now has a shrine dedicated to him in downtown Toronto thanks devout fans, also returned.
The team — the first franchise outside the U.S. to win the NBA title — beat the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
A victory parade and rally for the team is set to take place in Toronto on Monday.
The players are expected to travel the parade route in open-air double-decker buses with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy beside them.
Much of Canada was swept up in the team’s exhilarating playoff run, with fans celebrating long into the night after the big win.
The victory also marks the first time a Canadian team has secured one of the big four professional sports championships since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series.