NBA Finals: Toronto Raptors Beat Golden State Warriors to Win First NBA title

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beat defending champions the 114-110 to win their first NBA title.

Kawhi Leonard was named the Most Valuable Player, averaging 28.5 points, as the Raptors won the best-of-seven series 4-2.

“It was heck of a 12 months,” Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said after his side became the only Canadian franchise to win the NBA.

“This is why I play basketball; this is what I work hard for,” added Leonard.

The Warriors, who headed into the finals with back-to-back wins and had won three of the past four NBA titles, were without the injured Kevin Durant and lost Klay Thompson to cruciate knee ligament damage in the third quarter.

Steph Curry had a chance to tie the series with a missed three-pointer when the Warriors trailed 111-110, before Leonard sealed the victory for the visitors.

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The Raptors are the first Canadian club side to win a major North American sports title since the Toronto Blue Jays captured Major League Baseball’s World Series in 1993.

The NBA was expanded to Canada in 1995 when it incorporated the newly formed Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies – who later relocated and became the Memphis Grizzlies.

Leonard becomes a Toronto legend

Nurse’s triumph came one day short of the first anniversary of his appointment as head coach.

The 51-year-old, from Iowa, had been the team’s assistant coach since 2013, before being promoted on 14 June last year.

Nurse has coached extensively in the British Basketball League, with stints at Derby Storm, Birmingham Bullets, Manchester Giants, London Towers and Brighton Bears.

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He led the Bullets and Giants to the league title and twice won the BBL coach of the year award, working on a £100,000 budget – in contrast to the $150m (£120m) he has to spend at the Raptors.

“I hope it would inspire some people who are in those situations to keep working,” he said. “I always say that all those jobs meant the world to me at the time.

“Winning with Birmingham in ’96, winning with [D-League side] Rio Grande Valley, whatever year that was, and those games and jobs meant the world to me.

“I loved all those jobs and I think you can’t do very good work if you don’t love what you doing.

“I never really got discouraged, I didn’t really care about the level I was coaching at. I was just trying to learn and get better.”

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Superfan and Raptors ambassador Drake, regularly seen courtside at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, opted out of a trip to the West Coast, choosing to watch game six back home in Maple Leaf Square – nicknamed Jurassic Park – with thousands of fans.

Previously, the rapper has become notorious for the ‘Drake curse’ – his unfortunate habit of being photographed with some of the world’s biggest sports stars just before they lose.

Most recently, he was pictured alongside British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua… and we all know how that ended.

But after a historic Raptors win, has the curse finally been lifted?

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