Monday is not turning out to be a very productive day in Toronto.
As the Raptors’ championship parade made its way to city hall, huge crowds flooded the streets to celebrate the franchise’s first NBA title, and the city’s first major sports championship since 1993.
Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard, perched on top of a double-decker bus alongside Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Drake, was in awe at the sea of people.
“I don’t believe anyone went into work today,” said the Finals MVP. Always the pragmatist, Leonard quickly amended his statement: “Or they got the first few hours of the day off.
“Look at it. It’s crazy.”
Leonard said the days since the parade have featured no sleep and a lot of celebrating.
Meanwhile the NBA future of the 27-year-old all-star is still on the minds of fans — and players. Lowry led a “five more years” chant along the parade route in reference to Leonard’s upcoming free agency decision.
On stage at Nathan Phillips Square, Leonard received the key to the city from mayor John Tory amidst chants from the crowd for him to “stay.”
After Leonard finished his speech on stage, he called back to media day at the beginning of the season by mocking his famous laugh after he called himself a “fun guy.”
“Ha, ha, ha, ha.”
WATCH | Kawhi gets the last laugh:
The Raptors can offer Leonard a five-year extension worth about $190 million US, while other teams can offer only four years for about $140 million.
Leonard could start negotiating with teams as a free agent on June 30.
WATCH | Drake’s epic mic drop:
Leonard is still just taking it all in after winning his second career Larry O’Brien Trophy.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada for the support, we did it.”
As the parade inched forward — noticeably behind schedule — members of the Raptors smiled from open top double-decker buses, some splashing the crowds with champagne. At one point, Lowry, the longest-serving member of team, was seen hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy while some of his teammates smoked cigars.
WATCH | Kyle Lowry: “We are now world champs together.”
WATCH | “The other guy in the trade” says thank you:
WATCH | “You guys never gave up”:
WATCH | “We delivered”:
WATCH | Mayor gives Kawhi key to the city:
“This is unbelievable,” Lowry said.
Drake, red solo cup in hand, was also at the centre of the celebration as he sat next to Leonard as the Finals MVP showed off his trophy to the crowd.
The Warriors took out a full-page ad in Monday’s Toronto Star to congratulate them on their achievement.