Gather round if you love to cry! The Toronto Raptors pulled out all the stops in advance of tip-off to their Game 1 series against the Brooklyn Nets, because if the NBA won’t give you the 1st Round Playoff broadcast schedule deserving of a Champion, you are inclined, nay, obligated, to turn your matinee game into a dramatic a spectacle as possible.
To start, Canadian singer Jessie Reyez strapped in at the edge of the viewing platform of the CN Tower, to sing the national anthem 1,814 feet over the city of Toronto. (She alsoperformed the American national anthem as well.) Just a real, honest to god, why the heck not moment and now part of our national heritage, much like these moments:
Not to take away from the physics of the spectacle and talent of Reyez, but watching every player on Toronto’s roster mouth, “Wow” as they kneeled to watch was reason enough to bring the format back for every playoff game going forward.
Then, as if expectations were not TOWERING enough, Toronto took a cue from the Phoenix Suns and had the families of the Raptors starting lineup announce them.
Family first. #WeTheNorth
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
Marc Gasol’s two extremely cute kids kicked it off. His daughter flatly introducing him as, “My daddy Marc Gasol” while his son, perhaps remembering some practice takes leading up to this, echoed in the epitome of a baby voice (he is a baby), “Mahwk Gahsowl.”
Next up was one of Pascal Siakam’s brothers, James, turning the acoustics of an empty apartment into near arena-esque volumes. Then came OG Anunoby’s brother in what we now understand to be the familial Anunoby deadpan.
To bring the energy back up, Fred VanVleet’s family burst on the screen. His daughter, Sanaa, seeing no real need to wait for the preamble of starting position or number, just kind of wailing and clapping as his longtime partner Shontai got to the details. Fred Jr., the baby that pretty much brought Toronto everything, clapped in stoic support.
Then, man, if you weren’t choking up, Kyle Lowry’s kids were here to destroy you. Karter and Kameron took their places on either side of the screen with a basketball hoop between them and nailed the entire pre-game routine.
“From Villanova!” Five-year-old Kameron shouts.
“Six-time All-Star!” Karter Lowry dares you to disagree.
Kameron is back and cannot contain himself, “From North Philly to your city!”
“Number 7!” Karter confirms.
The two look at each other quickly, gearing up for what everyone watching knows by heart like a hymn is coming, “Kyle La-la-la-la-Lowry!”
The cameras, finally, cut to the court and Lowry is smiling so big it could call ships lost at sea safely home. Everyone else is, too.
With the way the Raptors rolled into the first half of the game, Lowry and VanVleet combining for 30 points by the half, there was no doubt seeing their families at home cheering them on was gasoline on the fire already well underway to burning this whole thing up. Karter and Kameron, please do the whole thing next game.