Article by: Kevin Eagleson
Raptors in 6, just as everyone predicted (not). After defeating the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champions. Masai Uriji’s risky decision in trading for superstar Kawhi Leonard for a one-year rental paid off. Leonard was clearly the best player throughout the playoffs, and the biggest reason that the Raptors quickly turned from an average playoff team to world champions. Although he may end up signing elsewhere this summer, Leonard’s historic playoff run will never be forgotten, and he will go down as a legend in Toronto.
The headline of the day has been that the Raptors “dethroned” the Golden State dynasty. Yes, Toronto does deserve a lot of credit for their performance, but they certainly did not end the greatest basketball dynasty of all time. Don't get me wrong, Leonard and the Raptors absolutely deserved the championship. They performed extremely well throughout the playoffs (highlighted by a game seven victory over Philadelphia) and emerged as champions of the East. They moved on to face the best team in the West, the Warriors, and finished them off in six games. They won the championship fair and square, and that accomplishment will never be taken away from them.
However, to say that they ended the Warrior’s dynasty is unreasonable. The Raptors faced a shell of what is easily the peak of the opposing team. Toronto was fortunate to play a hobbled Golden State team that was missing not only their best player on the team, but the widely regarded best player in the league, Kevin Durant. KD’s mere quarter of play time in game 5 gave fans a glimpse at what could have been. A healthy KD alone would have resulted in a Warriors championship in 5 games, mark my words. Injuries did not only affect Durant, as other key players were struggling to stay on the court. Most notably, Klay Thompson, who missed a crucial game 3 at home, as well as the end of game 6. While the dynasty is indeed in question, the Raptors should not be credited with taking it down.
People are also jumping to conclusions by calling the dynasty over completely. While Durant’s future is in question, the Warriors will almost certainly bring back their core players. Despite a torn ACL, Klay Thompson will most likely be offered a max contract this offseason and will continue to thrive upon his return. Steph Curry is also not going anywhere, and the duo of Steph and Klay alone means Golden State will likely still compete at a high level for the forseeable future. The Warriors will also be able to surround the “Splash Brothers” with more talent, whenever that means resigning Draymond Green, Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins, or bringing in a new player, their roster will almost certainly continue to be loaded.
Losing Durant hurts, but the Warriors proved that they could be one of the greatest basketball teams of all time before adding the league’s best player. Even if KD ends up elsewhere, the Warriors’ dynasty is nowhere close to being over. So, congratulations to the city of Toronto on their first NBA championship, but they did not destroy the Warriors dynasty.
The Warriors dynasty is not looking great now, but they are not going to drop out of the picture following this defeat. While Toronto may have stolen the Finals victory this year, you can still count on the Warriors to be back and fighting harder than ever to be back in the same position when everyone is back and healthy.
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