By Chrös McDougall | June 14, 2019, 10:27 a.m. (ET)

Kyle Lowry celebrates late in the game against the Golden State Warriors at the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, Calif.

 

Kyle Lowry helped bring an Olympic gold medal to the United States, and now he’s brought an NBA title to Canada.

Behind a double-double effort from the 2016 U.S. Olympian, the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday to clinch the team’s first league championship. Lowry led the team with 10 assists and tied for the team lead with 26 points in the win. 

Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard, a finalist for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, was named series MVP.

Thursday’s win in Oakland, California, marked the conclusion of a thrilling run for the Raptors that captivated audiences across both Canada and the United States.

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Long steeped in mediocrity, the Raptors traded for Lowry ahead of the 2012-13 season and soon developed into one of the NBA’s better teams. After making the playoffs just five times in their first 18 seasons, the Raptors reached the playoffs five years in a row beginning in 2013-14. However, after stalling each time in the playoffs, the team boldly traded fan favorite and 2016 U.S. Olympian DeMar DeRozan for Leonard before this season.

The move paid off as Toronto made the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season and then went on to reach its first NBA Finals and then win its first NBA title.

“I can’t really think right now, this is crazy,” Lowry said after the game. “Toronto, Canada, we brought it home, baby.”

Golden State, winners of the past two NBA titles and three of the last four, featured five Olympians of its own, although crucially the Warriors were without one of them for much of the series.

Kevin Durant, a two-time Olympic champion for Team USA and the 2017 and ’18 NBA Finals MVP, was injured during the Western Conference semifinals and missed a month of action. Behind Olympians Klay Thompson (2016), Draymond Green (2016), Andre Iguodala (2012) and Demarcus Cousins (2016) — not to mention Steph Curry — the Warriors were able to hold off the Houston Rockets and then the Portland Trail Blazers to advance to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals.

However, a championship three-peat was not to be.

With the Warriors in a three-games-to-one deficit against Toronto, Durant returned for Game 5 on Monday and played 12 minutes before injury struck again as he ruptured his right Achilles tendon. Although Golden State was able to rally to win that game in Toronto, Lowry and the Raptors proved to be too much, ending the series with a game to spare in Game 6.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.