Before COVID Halted The World 

It all started on Christmas morning 2019 where my lovely girlfriend Sonia surprised me with a beautiful and thoughtful gift — Raptors tickets versus the Milwaukee Bucks! This epic bout between the top two teams record wise in the Eastern Conference was especially exciting given the fact that the Raptors were the defending NBA Champions. She initially and feverishly tried to acquire Laker vs. Raptor tickets since she knows that I bleed purple and gold (Laker colours) but the prices were quite exorbitant and that game was scheduled for a later date in March — thankfully she was successful in getting the former instead.

During the 2019 Playoffs, particularly at the height of the Eastern Conference Finals against this very behemoth from Milwaukee, the Raptors were in dire straits after losing the first two games of the series. However, our team from the North was undeterred and overcame the deficit by winning the next four games of the series to advance to the Finals where they would be crowned NBA Champions after a taxing six game battle with the dynastic Golden State Warriors.

When considering the recent history between both teams, one can easily sense how magnetic of a game this was going to be. So after impatiently waiting for January to pass, game day nearly approached with a few weeks left to go. At 7:30pm on Tuesday, February 25th, 2020, Sonia and I excitedly embarked on our trip to Scotiabank Arena and were met by a sea of fans clad in Raptors gear! We eagerly got to our seats and joined in the cheers and warm embrace of some of the Raptors most ardent fans. 

On a personal note, this was our second ever live game and we finally got to witness the spectacle of the Classic Court Edition meant to celebrate the rich 25 year history of the team. This nostalgic nod paid homage to their original uniforms worn from 1995 to 1999 — they were adorned with the iconic red dinosaur along with the instantly recognizable purple and white colourway. It truly was a sight to behold and while Sonia and I didn't necessarily grow up here, we felt closer to the team and the city of Toronto as a result. 

As for the game itself, the Raptors fought valiantly but ultimately lost the game by a score of 108 -97. Unbeknownst to us, there would only be one more live home game played in Toronto with normal fan attendance during that calendar year. On March 11, 2020, the NBA suspended the season due to the prevalence of the COVID pandemic. Once the season resumed several months later, the league had all eligible teams play the remainder of the season and the subsequent playoffs in a bubble environment in Orlando, Florida. 

The Raptors unfortunately have yet to return home and are to play the entire 2020-2021 season in Tampa Bay, Florida. As difficult as it is not being able to watch and support our team in person, we can only imagine how trying the experience is for the players, coaches, team personnel and their collective families. We are thankful to have been able to watch the second to last live home game before COVID interrupted the season and the world. #Wethenorth remains proud of their sacrifices and as we root from afar, just know that we can't wait for our team to rejoin the city and to be welcomed back home in a thunderous chant filled with jubilee. 

© S E U Nx

Written on February 15, 2021.

Scotiabank Arena


© Seun Gun Photography
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