On the 3-year anniversary of the Raptors winning their franchise's first championship, we look back at the comments from Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Nick Nurse and Fred VanVleet from June 13, 2019 after Toronto defeated Golden State in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
KAWHI LEONARD: You know, like I said, when I was there on my opening day meeting, that I was focused on the now. And, you know, I wanted to make history here. And that's all I did.
I just-- I'm still playing basketball, no matter what jersey I have on. And the guys here have been making runs in the playoffs before I came, so I know they're a talented team. And, you know, I just came in with the right mindset-- let's go out and win ballgames.
I text Kyle probably a day later, or the day that I got traded, and told him, I said, let's go out and do something special. I know your best friend left. I know you're mad. But, you know, let's make this thing work out.
KYLE LOWRY: When he texted me, it was a quick text and just showed the type of person he is-- willing to reach out, understanding that this situation was a little bit sensitive. But he knew that he felt something could be done, especially with our group.
- Are you guys a superteam? Or no?
FRED VANVLEET: We're NBA champions, so if that makes you a superteam, I'll take it. People don't view us that way because it's untraditional. It's not the glam stars. None of our guys, probably other than Kawhi, are in that big-boy club or the fan boy club of the NBA.
We got guys who had to get it the long way, who had to get it out the mud, who had to get it against the grain. And we got a team full of them coming from all different places, all walks of life, all different life stories to get to this moment. But we got some talent.
PASCAL SIAKAM: It meant a lot just having guys from different countries and speaking different languages. I think it kind of, like, got us close together. And you kind of have all those little kind of friendships with guys that you can speak the same language with and from Spanish to French to English, different cultures. And I think it kind of represents Toronto in general, having that diversity.
NICK NURSE: I don't know. I just try to take things as they come. You know, didn't look too far ahead. Obviously, when we made some additions to the team, you know, we thought we could be good. But we had no idea what the health status was and all those things.
And again, you just got to go take the guys you got and go play and manage it the best you can. And then look at the opponents and try to figure out a way to beat them.
And it was a great group, though. They really played together. I thought they really fought hard. They were tough-minded. They didn't seem like this was wearing on them at all, two months of playoff basketball.
They never seemed tired to me, mentally. They kept wanting the film sessions. They kept wanting to walk through things. They kept wanting to keep learning and improving. And I think that was a big key, because we had to do that in the playoff run because we really hadn't had all that much time together.
PASCAL SIAKAM: As a team, obviously, we have the best player in the league and, you know, best player in this playoffs in Kawhi Leonard. But I think together we kind of, like, have this unit of, like, a bunch of guys that will go out there. And it wasn't-- they weren't top picks or whatever the case might be, but guys that just go out there and work every single day and try to be the best that they can be and unselfish.
It didn't matter, in the beginning of the season, Marc's starting or Serge's starting. And we had that change. And every single time, kind of, like, everyone kind of sacrificing everything for the team and the greater good. I think that's what makes us so special. Just that we are a team, and that's what makes us dangerous.
KAWHI LEONARD: You know, a lot of people were doubting me, thought I was either faking an injury or didn't want to play for a team. And that was disappointing to me that that was out in the media because I love the game of basketball. Like I always say, if we're not playing this game is if we're hurt, I mean, you're down.
So me just, you know, going through that and, you know, I just knew that I have to make myself happy and no one else. And I have to trust myself. And whatever-- it doesn't matter what anybody has to say about me. I know who I am as a person. I know how I feel. And always just trust yourself.
FRED VANVLEET: Don't ask no damn question back there, man.
KYLE LOWRY: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors.
Fred, how does it feel to be a world champion?
FRED VANVLEET: It's unbelievable, man. It's unbelievable to have guys like Kyle Lowry on your team who step up and go for 15 in the first quarter, you know? But he should've had 50. Well, you know, he slowed down. So I just wanted to come out there in the second half and bail him out and just try to help him for his legacy.
They killed my man all the time in the playoffs. He gets more slander than everybody I ever seen in the league. And so to have him be able to hold that trophy up tonight, that's what means the most for us.
KYLE LOWRY: Thank you.
It's been a long, long time, 13 years of NBA basketball, a couple years of college, a couple years of high school basketball. And to be able to say I'm a world champion, it makes me feel great. And to do it with the group of guys that we did it with is amazing. Like, it's just-- it's kind of still surreal, kind of-- it hasn't hit me yet. And, you know, I'm still kind of in this moment of just, like, is this real yet?
And for me, just at the end of the day, I work extremely hard on my game. I work extremely hard on myself. And I am extremely hard on myself. And I'm happy to be able to say I'm a champion. And it's been a long time coming.
NICK NURSE: I would hope it would inspire some people that are in those situations to keep working. You know, I always say that all those jobs meant the world to me at the time, right, winning with Birmingham in '96 or winning with Rio Grande Valley, whatever year that was. And those games and jobs meant the world to me. And I loved all those jobs.
And I think you can't do your great-- you can't do very good work if you don't love what you're doing. And I just-- I don't know. And I never really got discouraged. I didn't really care at the level I was coaching at. I was just trying to learn and get better. That's it.
PASCAL SIAKAM: It's a lot of ups and downs, man. And I think that's what makes the journey so exciting, just because you know you're not at your best. Like, you're not the best that you can be.
I think for me, as a player, a young player, just going out there every single day, knowing that I'm nowhere near where, like, how good I can be. And it kind of gives me the opportunity to go out there and learn every single day. Make mistakes and have bad games, but just continue to trust my work and everything that I put in to be here at this level, knowing that I deserve to be here at this level. And kind of, like, working every single day to be the best player that I can be.
There's going to have bad games. I'm going to miss shots-- a lot of them. [CHUCKLES] But at the same time, I just have to have the confidence to go out there and be myself and play the game that I love. And I think everything will always be OK when I do that.
KYLE LOWRY: I don't know nothing about the Drake Curse. That's my homie. That's my friend. So I don't know nothing about a curse. Thank you.