The Toronto Raptors’ NBA title has produced all sorts of celebrations across Canada, some even geographically misidentified. And it produced one on ESPN as well, where SportsCenter host David Lloyd brought Ariel Helwani (the ESPN MMA reporter and host of ESPN+’s Ariel & The Bad Guy) to talk about what it meant for Helwani’s native Canada. Helwani even donned a Canadian flag during this hit:
“Oh, David, this is a great day, and I am beaming with Canadian pride today. Honestly, it’s hard for me to put into words how I’m feeling. …I’m very proud today, I’m very proud of my country. Like I said, it’s hard to put into words because last night, as I watched the scenes from Halifax to Victoria, from my hometown of Montreal to Winnipeg, seeing all these Canadians come together and cheer for one singular team…this isn’t like the Astros winning for Houston and Texas, this isn’t like the Patriots winning for New England, this is a team winning for an entire country, and I’m so happy that they wore those red jerseys, because they truly are Canada’s team.”
“I was around in 2010 when Team Canada won Olympic gold, I was around in 2002, I saw Joe Carter hit that home run [in 1993], but this is completely different, because as you know, the Blue Jays were around when the Expos were around, and as you know, Canada’s expected to win hockey gold. But basketball is different, because 25 years ago, no one cared about basketball in my country. And to see that sport, the sport I grew up loving, the sport I grew up playing as a kid, not hockey, not baseball, basketball, basketball bringing people together like they did last night, it was truly an amazing thing. I am so proud to be Canadian today. And anyone who doesn’t understand this, I feel sorry for you, because this is like a World Cup team winning, this is like Olympic gold for us. This is one of the greatest moments in Canadian sports history.”
That’s certainly some passionate commentary from Helwani, and it’s cool to see ESPN feature one of its talents who has a good perspective on what this means to Raptors fans and to much of the country of Canada.