When the Toronto Raptors play their first-ever National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series game on Thursday night, a Fort Simpson fan will be watching with a keener eye than most.
William Michaud was lucky enough to attend a Raptors playoff game last week at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
He says he paid about $2,500 for a pair of seats, just a few rows up from court side.
Michaud say he was proud to represent, albeit unofficially, the Northwest Territories and his Dene people.
“It was certainly a rare event. It was just a Canadian thing to support a Canadian team as they tried to make their first NBA final,” Michaud told CKLB. “I was totally excited, it was amazing.”
Michaud watched and cheered as Toronto beat Milwaukee, their second of four straight wins to put them in the finals for the first time in the Raptors 24-year history.
He admitted that he does not consider himself an actual Raptor super fan, adding he watched about a half-dozen regular season games this year.
But Michaud says he has a new-found appreciation for the team now that he’s seen a game in person.
“An event like that makes you feel more Canadian. You know you are going to sit in the arena and have a good time. But the energy and the number of people you see there, it’s just really hard to describe,” Michaud said. “I came all the way from Fort Simpson to see something I believed in. My friends and my community were all excited.”
Michaud says he gets a kick out of Raptors play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin saying “He just hit that shot from downtown Fort Resolution,” as he has been heard announcing when the Raptors hit a long three-point shot.
He says he hopes Devlin will make a Fort Simpson reference at some point.
There was a sports sidebar story dealing with the friend that Michaud took to the game.
He went with William Primeau, the grandson of legendary Toronto Maple Leaf Joe Primeau.
Incidentally, not too surprisingly, Michaud expects the Raptors to upset the defending champion Golden State Warriors in five games.