Dozens of fans have landed in San Francisco for Game 6, as the Toronto Raptors are back in the Bay Area for a shot at bringing the NBA championship home.
CBC staff realized they were on the Air Canada Fan Flight when they heard fans chanting “We the North” at their Pearson International Airport gate Wednesday morning.
“It is remarkable, these fans,” CBC reporter Devin Heroux said.
“It’s 7 a.m. in the morning, they’re chanting ‘We the North,’ prior to getting on this plane.”
The fans donned Air Canada’s Fan Flight t-shirts that were placed Wednesday on every seat in the plane.
A few of the fans had won tickets to see Game 6. All of them made their presence known hours later at San Francisco International Airport upon arrival, chanting “Let’s Go Raptors” outside the gate. They’re hoping their team, which leads 3-2 after losing Game 5 in Toronto, can wrap things up Thursday evening.
Raptors fans have already made an impressive showing in the Bay Area. At Oracle Arena in Game 4, hundreds of Canadians sang O Canada — and even chanted “CBC, CBC” — after the Raptors won.
Whether the Canadians will be well-received this time around, however, is uncertain — even though both Warriors forward Klay Thompson and Head Coach Steve Kerr have said Raptors fans are some of the nicest they have ever come across.
First, there was the controversy over Drake’s courtside antics, with even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver saying the Toronto rapper had gone too far.
More recently, there was the reaction in Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto when Warriors superstar Kevin Durant fell to the ground holding his right calf — an injury that was revealed Wednesday to be a ruptured Achilles tendon. One fan was shown on national TV mockingly waving Durant good-bye, while others cheered.
Warrior Draymond Green condemned the fans, calling them “classless,” even though some did applaud while Durant left the floor after some Raptors players told the crowd to quiet down.
Videos have also surfaced showing Golden State Warriors fans getting punched after Game 5, as well as fans camping out in front of the St. Regis Hotel, heckling the parents of superstar Warriors guard Steph Curry.
Curry, asked about the incident, said its comes with the territory of playing in the NBA Finals for five years in a row.
“It’s hard to avoid those interactions,” he told reporters in Oakland Wednesday.
Curry said many fans are trying to make their own imprint on the series, especially with stunts that can travel quickly across social media.
“It’s kind of stupid, to be honest, in terms of people camping outside our hotel just to yell expletives at us or our family members,” he said.
All the Warriors can do, he said, is try to ignore it.
Some Toronto fans are have since tried to make amends.
With Wednesday’s news that Durant had ruptured his Achilles, at least one Toronto fan has apologized on behalf of the whole fanbase by sending flowers.
Raptors fans have also donated thousands of dollars to Durant’s charity as an apology online.
“I hereby apologize on behalf of Canada — prayers for recovery.”
A Raptors fan sent flowers to the Warriors as an apology for the cheers after Kevin Durant’s injury. 👏
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