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Rosie DiManno: Raptors come home to a sea of love

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To paraphrase Fred VanVleet: Eff-ing eh hoopla, Toronto.

Even if it took nearly six hours to get to the heart of the thing — Nathan Phillips Square — as five open-top buses, transporting precious cargo, wound through the city’s downtown core.

Even if, goddammit, gunfire broke during the celebration, causing panic and pandemonium as frightened revellers stampeded from Ground Zero at the Queen St. edge of the throng, some trampled and hurt in the chaos. Four victims, their injuries not believed to be life-threatening, according to police. Two guns recovered, three suspects arrested.

The ground littered with shoes and backpacks and cellphones — the detritus of flight — and an overturned stroller, abandoned.

Three stabbings around the Eaton Centre, in other violent incidents.

This is the rattle and hum of a metropolis, on Monday no different. It’s our new normal.

But it would be a shame if that’s the dominant headline with the entire country watching, maybe the whole news-sniffing Twitter-engorged planet.

The Raptors deserve better. The city deserves better.

Because this was a sea of throbbing love. This was mass affection and conviviality and gratitude and pride.

Some two million worshippers of the Toronto Raptors lined the streets and crammed Canada’s largest public plaza, spilling upwards into Dundas Square, jamming intersections as road after road was closed off, slowing down the procession of the 2019 NBA champions.

Shoulder to shoulder and chest to chest.

Players with their children in arms. With victory cigars in their mouths. Showering the crowd with spumes of champagne. Remarkably patient as the parade inched along, sluggish enough that many were able to approach and receive autographs, take selfies, get a good gander at the Larry O-B and the MVP trophy.

“Ole! Ole! Ole!” encouraged Spaniard Marc Gasol.

“Five more!” — upping the ante — declared Kyle Lowry, rocking a retro Damon Stoudamire jersey, as Kawhi Leonard snickered.

A claw of contrails as the Royal........

© Toronto Star