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TORONTO — As the clock wound down late in the fourth quarter, the game all but decided in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ favour, the crowd at the Air Canada Centre, as they had all postseason long, began to chant, “Let’s Go Raptors.”
They chanted into the dying seconds and they chanted when the clock ran out, and the season — this historic season — was over, decided by a 113-87 Cavaliers win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
During LeBron James’ post-game interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke, the fans — the inhabitants of the North, if you will — continued to celebrate their beloved Toronto Raptors, despite the loss.
“First of all,” James says to Doris Burke, “do you hear this? Unbelievable respect and much respect to these fans, to this country – this is unbelievable. I’ve never been a part of something like this in my 13-year career. This is special and I really appreciate what this team did.”
All postseason, the ACC had been a safe haven for the Raptors. The place practically shook as the sold-out crowd cheered — and jeered if you happened to be an official — on their team through offensive runs, dunks, finger wags and shooting slumps. Overall, the team went 8-3 on their home court during their 20-game playoff run, the team no doubt fuelling off the energy and appreciation from the people packed into their building, not to mention the ever-growing gang of fans outside the building in Jurassic Park.
Later in the post-game press conference, James reiterated his admiration for the Toronto fans.
“It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. These fans, they mean a lot to their team, and I think the team gave everything they could throughout this whole season,” he said of the Raptors, who won 56 games for the first time in franchise history. “To go to a place they’ve never been before, to get to the Eastern Conference Finals, and to win two games on their home floor as well, in front of their fans throughout this Conference Finals, it just showed their appreciation. They were unbelievable all season long to this point, and they definitely showed that toward the end of the game, all the way throughout.”