The Toronto Raptors’ historic run has been many things — dramatic, nerve-wracking, inspiring and awe-inducing. And a new video shared ahead of the climatic Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors captures all of those emotions through the eyes of a kid on a basketball court.
The video is basically the trailer for the Raptors 2019 playoffs origin story feature film we all want and need. It features a young basketball player — who bears more than a passing resemblance to Raptors star Kawhi Leonard — getting on the subway at Toronto’s Dundas West station with a basketball.
“What makes a champion?” the voiceover asks. “Is it dreaming big? Or the determination to keep on going?”
The video cuts between the young player on an outdoor court driving for the basket and footage of Leonard’s infamous, super-hero-worthy shot from Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s got all of the warm, fuzzy sports production cliches — the black and white footage, the dramatic voiceover, the epic moment of anticipation as the ball bounces momentarily on the rim before plunging in. If you aren’t already on the Raptors bandwagon, this will to get you there.
Toronto-based producers Pat Greenall and Everett Vane told HuffPost Canada the video was a personal passion project inspired by how invested the city is in the Raptors.
Vane said they came up with the idea just last week, and wanted to find a way to capture how inspiring the Raptors’ playoff run has been for kids and adults alike.
“I haven’t seen the city going off like this in so long — maybe ever,” Vane said. “It’s nuts down in the streets.”
Outside of last-minute shots on the subway on Saturday afternoon, they recorded most of the footage in a single day in downtown Toronto. The two found Jay Jay, who stars in the video, playing on a court and knew immediately that he was the one.
“We had the idea to use a kid to convey the idea of growth,” Greenall said. “We went to a basketball court to maybe find somebody who could fit this role, and were lucky to meet the father of this kid, and we hired him.”
Move over, Kawhi — maybe we’ll be seeing Jay Jay in a Raptors jersey one day!