Toronto mayor defends ‘cheering’ Raptor fans
The mayor of Toronto is defending his city’s basketball fans, saying cheers from Raptors supporters when a star Golden State Warriors player got injured in Monday’s nailbiter NBA playoff game are being “overstated.”
Large sections of Raptors fans at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto initially cheered when Kevin Durant went down clutching his Achilles tendon, sensing that an injured Durant could ease their path to victory. One more win and the championship trophy would be hoisted in Canada for the first time.
It took a few of Toronto’s own players, including Kyle Lowry and Danny Green, to stand up to quiet the crowd, knowing that Durant was in serious pain as he was helped off the court and straight to the locker room.
The cheers then gave way to an eerie silence, or about as silent as 20,000 basketball fans can be.
That was followed by more supportive chants of “KD, KD.”
The incident drew criticism from some Golden State players and observers, including many on social media.
But Toronto Mayor John Tory stressed Tuesday that while any crowd may contain some who react the wrong way, the “vast majority” of people at Monday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals acted like good sports fans.
“I was in the arena and it happened right at the end of a play and people were cheering at the end of the play, but very quickly after that (Durant) got a very warm round of applause as he was taken on to the dressing room — as he should, he’s a superstar, and nobody wants to see him hurt,” Tory said.
It’s important not to overblow such incidents or make generalizations about what Toronto sports fans are like, the mayor added.
“Toronto sports fans are good fans, they’re considerate fans,” Tory said. “They understand a superstar when they see one and I think that’s the kind of applause he got as he left the arena.”
Durant, who missed the first four games of this final series with a debilitating calf injury, had come back for Game 5 in a bid to help his team stave off elimination. After a blazing start in which he scored 11 points in just 12 minutes of playing time, he buckled in the corner of the court, untouched.
The initial fear is that Durant tore his Achilles tendon, an injury that typically requires a 12-month recovery and could erase his entire 2019-20 season.
“I don’t think fans knew of the significance of the injury,” Lowry told reporters after his team fell 106-105 to the Warriors. “In this league, we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.”
Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors from 1999-2002, said that the cheers left him “confused.”
“It’s not my experience with the people of this city,” said Curr y, whose wife, Ayesha Curry, grew up in nearby Markham, Ont. “I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series.”
Curry took the unusual step of following Durant off the court even though he was still in the game. “Sometimes the spirit tells you what to do,” said Curry.
At least one Toronto fan set out to salvage Raptor Nation’s reputation by launching an online fundraiser for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which helps atrisk youth.
“We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant,” says the fundraiser on Gofundme. “This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians.”
Game 6 of the series goes Thursday in Oakland, Calif.
Golden State superstar Kevin Durant got off to a torrid start in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night before leaving with an injury. It’s feared Durant tore his Achilles tendon, which would end his series and possibly wipe out his entire 2019-20 season.