It is late June, 2019. The Toronto Raptors took the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy back to Canada less than two weeks ago. NBA teams are starting to make post-season moves.
Even with time for it to sink in, "The Raptors, 2019 NBA Champions" sounds odd. Suddenly, it feels like we are living in a new NBA age. And in all likeliness, we are.
The NBA has never looked as international. Adam Silver struck the “international” bell during his trophy presentation speech, saying the sport had come “full circle” with Toronto's victory, basketball being invented by a Canadian, and highlighting the fact there are players from six countries on the Raptors roster.
Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri — born in England, raised in Nigeria — followed suit with his first comment of the ceremony, shining the light not just on Canadian pride, but on international basketball:
I tried to prove to the world that there is a meaning to having one NBA team outside the US.