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Huge success for Canada

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The final numbers are in, and the NBA Finals were a smashing success for Canada all the way around.

The NBA said Friday that 56% percent of the Canadian population watched at least some part of the NBA Finals, with an average viewership of about 8 million for the Toronto Raptors’ title-winning victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6.

The league also said the total combined U.S. and Canadian audience for the finals was up 11 percent over the combined viewership of the 2018 title series between Golden State and Cleveland.

Toronto Raptors fans celebrate in Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto as the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 to win the NBA championship for the first time on Friday. (AP)

Toronto Raptors fans celebrate in Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto as the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 to win the NBA championship for the first time on Friday. (AP)

Thursday’s game was the most-watched NBA game in Canadian television history, a record that was toppled several times during this postseason because of the Raptors’ popularity. Viewership for each of the six finals games rank among the 10 most-watched television programs in Canada so far this year.

“Everybody who supported us during the season, all the fans in Toronto, everyone in Canada – this is for you,” Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said after Toronto’s first NBA championship. “This is for Canada, baby. You should be proud.”

And not only were Canadians watching, but they were buying.

The NBA said that online sales through the league’s official portals smashed records for the day following the end of a championship series, up more than 80 percent from the previous mark (set when Cleveland beat Golden State in 2016) and were more than 100 percent over sales on the day following the Warriors’ sweep of the Cavaliers last season.

The Raptors are planning a parade in Toronto on Monday, one that will likely take more than two hours.

“This means so much to our city and to many in Canada, and we are looking forward to showing everyone the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Monday,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “Bringing the NBA championship to Toronto is the realization of a goal for our team and for our players, and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate together with our fans.”

The newly crowned NBA champions, who won the title in Oakland, California on Thursday night, are expected back in Toronto on Saturday. They were planning to spend Friday night celebrating in Las Vegas.

PARADE SET
In Toronto, Canada’s largest city will hold a championship parade on Monday for the Toronto Raptors, the first team outside the United States to capture the NBA crown.

The upstart Raptors dethroned the defending champion Golden State Warriors late Thursday to win the NBA Finals, 114-110.

With the victory – cheered across Canada – the team also became the first Canadian club to win a major North American sports title since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays captured Major League Baseball’s World Series.

The parade, officials said, is scheduled to start at 10 am (1400 GMT) on Monday at the Raptor’s practice facility, OVO Athletic Centre, on Toronto’s west side and proceed along Lake Shore Boulevard into downtown, ending at city hall.

The last major championship parade in this city was held for the Blue Jays 26 years ago.

Newspaper headlines on Friday heralded the win with full front-page photos of star player Kawhi Leonard raising his arms in victory at Oakland, California’s Oracle Arena. (AFP)

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