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THE RAPTORS WERENT even playing in Toronto -- they were on the road, in Brooklyn, preparing for Game 6 of the opening round of the 2014 playoffs. But that didnt stop great mobs of fans, like pilgrims, from trekking to Maple Leaf Square outside the Air Canada Centre. Leading up to Game 1, the mood had been so fevered that the teams normally staid general manager, Masai Ujiri, had made an appearance and dropped a few F-bombs, for which he would later be fined.With the Raptors leading the series 3-2, and Game 6 presenting an opportunity to advance to the second round for the first time since 2001, the tension built. An all-out proxy war broke out between newspapers in Toronto and New York. During Game 5, the Nets Twitter account implored their fans to meet Torontos intensity. Maple Leaf Square, Jurassic Park to the Raptors faithful, was total pandemonium.This was an opportunity -- to that point, the opportunity -- for Canada to fall in love with basketball, for the Raptors to become the NBAs first team to effectively represent a nation. Think New York and L.A. have an unfair market advantage? The Raptors play in a top-six NBA market before you count the 29 million Canadians outside the Greater Toronto Area. Across the country, basketballs popularity had been consistently ballooning, thanks in equal parts to the coming of age of the Vince Carter generation and the emerging Lowry-DeRozan generation, as well as the NBAs initiatives in India, China and the Philippines, with droves of immigrants touching down in Canada already dreaming of mimicking Kobe Bryants fadeaway. Was this the moment?Across the country, the lounge in a Boston Pizza in Edmonton, Alberta, was a Canadian caricature: a hockey scouts paradise, the walls plastered with TVs featuring NHL playoff action. A couple of friends and I asked the server if the TV near our booth could be switched to the Raptors. Whats the harm, we figured? Game 6 featured epic stakes. The Oilers hadnt even made the postseason -- the Canadiens were the only Canadian team in the playoffs, and they werent even playing.Confused groans filled the air. What the f---! exclaimed a woman behind us, sitting next to a guy in an L.A. Kings jersey. A male voice in the crowd, in a moment of pure poeticism, yelled, This is Canada! The revolution, it turned out, couldnt span 3,000 kilometers in a matter of months. The birthplace of James Naismith would remain a rich, but largely uncultivated field.IT WAS IN the 2016 playoffs that the forces materialized to rouse the sleeping giant. No Canadian teams qualified for the NHL playoffs, and the remaining story lines were abnormally uncompelling, all the while the Raptors overcame their jilted history, taking Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers and proceeding to the second round. The game drew 1.53 million Canadian viewers, setting a record. Their Game 7 victory over the Miami Heat in the second round sent the Raptors to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history and won the weekend, defeating two hockey games and a Blue Jays game. In lockstep with a franchise that has become used to beating its own records, 1.8 million Canadians tuned in for Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning the weekend again and setting another record.It is fair to say that multicultural Toronto, with the emergence of the Raptors and the Blue Jays, is today a mecca of the modern intersection between culture and sports. The NBAs All-Star weekend in Toronto was a massive success. Drake is an unparalleled hypeman. It is, for all intents and purposes, happenin.Even the players are swept up in it. I am Toronto, proclaimed DeMar DeRozan, capping an impromptu love letter to the city that drafted him, at a news conference following the five-year, $140 million extension he received this summer.Despite being an unrestricted free agent, DeRozan didnt meet with any other teams. He didnt want anybody else. It was an almost dreamlike moment for a fanbase that became accustomed to watching young stars blossom and leave for greener pastures, a healing turn for both city and player.If it was a dream, it was something like déjà vu, a repeat of when Kyle Lowry re-upped two years earlier, and fans let out a collective sigh of relief. He stayed, phew! But this time, nobody was holding their breath. A high scorer in his prime, DeRozan had options to leave. But hes also a throwback ballhog, no darling of advanced stats. Some were left wondering, Arent we past this? DeRozans monologue felt like a revenue-motivated sequel to a classic, with a lesser actor at the mantle.These fans are no longer the insecure teenager, shocked that anyone would even consider going to the prom with them. They read Bossypants over the summer, found themselves in an altered state of consciousness and came to an epiphany: an emotional speech in July is not worth the spate of ill-fated jumpers theyll endure in late April. It was, after all, during the playoff run that the flaws in DeRozans game, which thrives on inefficient ball-stopping, were laid bare, the offense often flowing better when he sat.DeRozans on-court value is polarizing, the flashpoint of a debate between new and old philosophies. The cult of the individual remains widespread. But that this divide has even punctured The Six, that they would question their star at all, marks a sea change in the fan bases self-conception.ITS OCT. 2, 2016, and the Toronto Raptors are facing the Denver Nuggets in a preseason game in Calgary, Alberta, as part of the NBA Canada series. It appears to be working: On StubHub, nosebleeds are $110. Scotiabank Saddledome is a packed house. In the media room, a scout with the Nuggets quips, How do you sell out a game in 10 minutes? Most conspicuous is the attire, a melting pot of basketball and Canada-related sports memorabilia: speckled into the Raptors gear was an Aaron Sanchez Blue Jays jersey, Maple Leafs gear, a knock-off Yao Ming jersey, Luis Scolas Argentina uniform, even an L.A. Clippers warm-up jersey.Hours before the game, leaning on a pole outside the Saddledome is a wiry 15-year-old kid in a Raptors jersey named Braden. A swingman for his high school team an hour or two north in Red Deer, he is killing time before doors open because he overestimated the trek down to Calgary. Who can fault his eagerness? Itll be his first NBA game.The groundswell that began two years ago is, right here tonight, being realized across the country. A basketball love bomb was detonated in Toronto, and the fallout reached the outskirts: Google trends show the word Raptors being searched in Alberta four times as much in the 2016 playoff run as in 2014.Outside the arena, you can bear witness to the argument for staying the course, a crowd of beady-eyed Bradens, all the way from Banff and Red Deer to Edmonton, champing at the bit to catch DeRozan, Lowry and the crew that vaulted Torontos playoff run. DeRozan, nit-picked as he might be, is paramount to the nights success. He is, after all, the name on the back of Bradens jersey.Inside, coach Dwane Casey reflects wistfully on the first pro team he watched live, the ABAs Kentucky Colonels, and remarks, You will touch a young life, just by him coming to the game.Progress is always double-edged. Moving forward requires letting go of the past, being unsentimental about big moments and memories. Watching sports, paradoxically, and especially cheering for a particular team, is built on relishing collective nostalgia. Acting like youve been there, on some level, defeats the purpose.In the third year of this experiment, nobody would be acting anymore. If Toronto stagnates, will the crowd still be as satisfied? Would they flock in from all over the province? Its unlikely. But the ability to feel dissatisfied, too, is progress. And when the Raptors fortunes eventually flip, fans will be able to reflect back on a highlight reel of players who actually wanted to perform in front of them.An inferiority complex is eroding, little by little, as a national identity emerges. You can catch it, uninterrupted by any hecklers, at your local Boston Pizza. Cheap Baseball Jerseys Authentic .Y. - Nelson Mandela will be honoured by the New York Yankees with a plaque in Monument Park. Discount Baseball Jerseys . By having more great seasons. Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. http://www.cheapmlbjerseysauthenticchina.com/ . In taking its goal tally to 99 in all competitions already this season, City delivered another demonstration of its lethal firepower at Etihad Stadium to set up a fourth-round match at home to another second-tier team -- Watford. Wholesale MLB Jerseys China . Booth picked up 65 caps after making her national team debut in 2002 at the age of 17. She most recently played for Sky Blue FC of the National Womens Soccer League. "It just felt like it was my time to move on," she said in a phone interview from her hometown of Burlington, Ont. Cheap Nike MLB Jerseys . The 20-year-old Pelicans big man glanced up and smiled widely at the well-wishers -- a fitting end to a day he wont soon forget. Davis responded to his selection earlier in the day as a Western Conference All-Star with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-91 on Friday night. Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Monday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. A full Olympic Digest will be sent. All times EDT:- RIO DE JANEIRO -- American Allyson Felix thought she might win two individual medals at the Olympics. Instead, shed happily settle for one. Her chance comes Monday night in the 400-meter final. Race starts 9:45 p.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mark Cavendish, the winner of 30 stages in the Tour de France, tries to capture the Olympic medal that has long eluded him when he returns to the Rio velodrome for the omnium. Reigning gold medalist Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark leads the six-discipline event at the midway point. Medal event starts 4:30 p.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- Russian world champion Evgeny Tishchenko and Kazakh bruiser Vassiliy Levit fight for the Olympic heavyweight gold medal. Fight starts 6:15 p.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- The U.S. womens field hockey team seeks a slot in the quarterfinals, but Germany is blocking the path. The Americans went 4-1 in pool play and are confident in the quest for their first medal since 1984. Game starts 11:30 a.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- The U.S. mens volleyball team tries to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive with a must-win match against Mexico in the fifth and final match of pool play at the Rio Olympics. Match started 10:35 a.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- The undefeated United States looks to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic womens water polo tournament with a victory over Brazil. Australia takes on Hungary, Russia faces Sppain and Italy meets China in the other quarterfinals.dddddddddddd US-Brazil game starts 1:10 p.m.- RIO DE JANEIRO -- Cuban heavyweight Mijian Lopez will wrestle for his third Olympic title. But Lopez will likely have to get through Turkish strongman Riza Kayaalp to win gold. Finals start 3 p.m.- SAN FRANCISCO -- Newly acquired Matt Moore will make his home debut for San Francisco, taking on the Pirates. The lefty is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts since the Giants got him from Tampa Bay. San Francisco hosts former starter Ryan Vogelsong and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game starts 10:15 p.m.- PHOENIX -- Fresh off a 16-2 thumping at the hands of Boston, Arizona returns home to face the New York Mets. Its the opener of a 10-game road trip for the Mets, who were swept by the lowly Diamondbacks in three games last week in New York. Bartolo Colon goes for his first win against Arizona. Game starts 9:40 p.m.- By the 1950s, college footballs balance of power had drifted away from the elite eastern schools and into the Midwest, where Bud Wilkinsons Oklahoma dynasty dominated the polls and set a record winning streak that still stands. Eds: Part of a series.- Various stories from NFL training camps.- UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- The USGA tries again to play the final round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship after it was rained out Sunday. Miguel Angel Jimenez holds a 1-stroke lead over Gene Sauers. 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