AP: Analysis: A global NBA now has a truly global champion

Toronto Raptors fans celebrate at a public telecast early Friday, June 14, 2019, in Halifax, Nova Scoatia, following the Raptors' 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals. (Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press via AP)

June 14, 2019
TIM REYNOLDS

A police officer and a fan dance in the street after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors during Game 6 NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship, in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard raises his fist following a basket as Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry walks away during the second half of Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
A fan waves a Toronto Raptors support flag on top of a car as fans celebrate early Friday, June 14, 2019, on the streets of Toronto following the Raptors’ 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., in Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press via AP)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Canadian flag, soaked in beer and champagne, was waved in the Toronto locker room. Pascal Siakam wore the flag of Cameroon around his shoulders. Marc Gasol was yelling some happy phrase in Spanish.

Every team that wins an NBA title calls itself “world champions.”

These Toronto Raptors might actually be worthy of the moniker.

The new kings of the NBA are the first outside the U.S. to wear the crown. And they come from all corners of the globe.

Team President Masai Ujiri was born in England and raised in Nigeria. Serge Ibaka is from the Congo. Gasol will play again for his native Spain this summer in the FIBA World Cup. Coach Nick Nurse won his first championship in Britain, where reserve OG Anunoby comes from. Even the team’s superfan, Nav Bhatia, comes from India.

It’s a global game.

It’s a global team.

They’re the global champions.

“It meant a lot, just having guys from different countries and speaking different languages,” Siakam said. “I think it kind of got us closer together. And you kind of have all those little kinds of friendship with guys that you can speak the same language with, and from Spanish to French to English, different cultures. I think kind of it represents Toronto in general, having that diversity.”

He doesn’t even have the whole list.

Jeremy Lin, an Asian American, speaks Mandarin. The assistants on Nurse’s staff have backgrounds from stints as players or coaches in France, England, Germany, Italy, Australia, Israel and more. The director of sports science is Scottish. The head trainer is from Ontario. Jamaal Magloire, who has been on the staff since his playing days ended, is a Toronto native.

“It means a lot,” Magloire said as he watched champagne spray all over the locker room. “Canada and Toronto especially are very diverse places. And this team, all the diversity that we have, it served us well.”

There’s a parade — Ujiri said it was scheduled for Monday, though he also wasn’t exactly certain at the time — coming to Toronto. The red and white flag with the giant maple leaf will wave. There will be plenty of other flags there as well. And more than a few proud Americans will be on that route as well, like NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the longest-tenured Raptors player, Kyle Lowry.

“I’m very happy for them,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said, tipping his cap to the Raptors. “Winning a championship is the ultimate in this league, and they have got a lot of guys who have earned this. So congrats to Toronto, to their organization, to their fans. They are a worthy champion.”

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Analysis: A global NBA now has a truly global champion
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Analysis: A global NBA now has a truly global champion
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The Canadian flag, soaked in beer and champagne, was waved in the Toronto locker room. Pascal Siakam wore the flag of Cameroon around his shoulders. Marc Gasol was yelling some happy phrase in Spanish.