I’m a big softie when it comes to things like movies and TV shows — an emotional moment can get me choking back tears pretty easily. (I cried, like, three times during The Last Jedi.) (I didn’t cry during The Rise of Skywalker, although I felt like it, for very different reasons.)
On the other hand, it’s pretty rare that a sports moment can make me cry; in fact, I can’t think of a single one before a year ago. But, like a lot of Raptors fans, last year’s title run brought me to tears, literally.
I can remember the night of June 13, and the morning of June 14, very vividly. As Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals wound down, I could feel the emotion rising in me, as the realization dawned: The Toronto Raptors were going to win the title. Steph Curry missed that three, Draymond Green called that timeout that the Warriors didn’t have, and we were actually gonna do it.
And then... the officials huddled, and went to the video monitor, and we sat through a long delay. Kawhi Leonard finally shot the technical free throw from the Warriors’ excessive timeout. Then the Raptors inbounded the basketball — and the officials inexplicably called a foul. And then needed to review it! Finally Kawhi sealed the deal at the three throw line and the deed was done: The Toronto Raptors were NBA Champions. It happened.
During that interminable delay, my emotion dissipated. Well, except for one: I was frustrated by the officials robbing us of our moment. The joy was taken out of it. No tears came. And from there it was a whirlwind: The trophy presentation, the MVP award, Masai, the champagne, the interviews, all of it. I got a little choked up when Fred VanVleet was on the podium and Kyle Lowry asked him a question, and then when Kyle was on the podium, but no tears came. I just stayed up and took it all in, finally going to sleep about 3:00 a.m. — and then getting up at 6:00 a.m. to write my five thoughts column.
After that, I had some work to do for my day job, and then finally, around noon, I sat down with some lunch and had an hour to catch up on what the world was saying about the new NBA Champions.
And that’s when I saw Bruce Arthur’s video essay for TSN, called “Remember This, Canada”. And that, finally, is what brought me to tears.
Like, a lot of tears. By the halfway point I was full on sobbing, and I was a blubbering mess by the end. All of the emotions that got suppressed during that damn delay, that I put off while I took in the scenes, and then slept, and then worked — everything finally came pouring out. Arthur’s video captured exactly what I was feeling, and summed up the moment so well, it just got me. Head in hands, hunched over the kitchen table, sobbing.
It still gets me, to this very day. I’ve watched that video probably 100 times, and I still get choked up. I love the message of it, that we witnessed something special and although it’s just one moment and we all move on, the world moves on, we shouldn’t forget it, or what it meant, or what it made us feel. I’ve tried to capture that message and express it myself every time I write about the Raptors’ championship, and done my best to look back on the title run with the same intention. And I look back on that moment, that I first saw that video, the same way: I don't ever want to forget how it made me feel in that moment.