Toronto’s mayor is defending his city’s basketball fans, saying cheers from Raptors supporters when a star Golden State Warriors player got injured in Monday’s nail-biter playoff game are being “overstated.”
Large sections of Raptors fans at the Scotiabank Arena initially cheered when Kevin Durant went down clutching his Achilles tendon, prompting several Toronto players to wave their hands to get the crowd to stop.
Many in the stands soon started clapping instead and muted “K-D” chants could be heard as Durant was helped off the court in the second quarter.
The incident drew criticism from some Golden State players and observers, including many on social media.
But Toronto Mayor John Tory stressed Tuesday that while any crowd may contain some who react the wrong way, the “vast majority” of people at Monday’s NBA Finals game in Toronto acted like good sports fans.
“I was in the arena and it happened right at the end of a play and people were cheering at the end of the play but very quickly after that [Durant] got a very warm round of applause as he was taken on to the dressing room – as he should, he’s a superstar, and nobody wants to see him hurt,” Tory said.
It’s important not to overblow such incidents or make generalizations about what Toronto sports fans are like, the mayor added.
“Toronto sports fans are good fans, they’re considerate fans,” Tory said. “They understand a superstar when they see one and I think that’s the kind of applause he got as he left the arena.”
At least one Toronto fan set out to salvage Raptor Nation’s reputation after the incident by launching an online fundraiser for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which helps at-risk youth.
“We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant,” the fundraiser says on GoFundMe.
“This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians.”
The fundraiser, which aims to collect $50,000, received roughly $250 in its first hours.
Some players previously said they were surprised at the initial fan response.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors from 1999-2002, said Monday that the cheers left him “confused.”
“It’s not my experience with the people of this city,” said Curry, whose wife, Ayesha Curry, grew up in nearby Markham, Ont. “I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series.”
The Warriors eked out a victory Monday, winning 106-105 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Finals. Game 6 of the series goes Thursday in Oakland, Calif.