The Raptors are one win away from winning the NBA championship.
Toronto reached the finals for the first time in franchise history this season and will enter Game 6 against the Warriors on Thursday at Oracle Arena with a 3-2 series lead. If the Raptors fall in Golden State, they’ll have another chance to close it out at home Sunday.
Title-winning teams are typically invited to the White House. But, would the Raptors receive an invitation, even though they’re based in Canada?
There’s precedent for a team from Canada celebrating in Washington, D.C. after taking home a title in their respective league. The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and visited with President George H. W. Bush that December.
“America is proud of you,” Bush said when extending the invite. “It’s America’s pastime, and we salute whoever wins.”
The Blue Jays, however, repeated as champions one year later and did not travel to the United States capital.
Meanwhile, there are seven NHL teams in Canada and the last Stanley Cup champion from that group was the Montreal Canadiens in 1992-93. They did not take part in a White House celebration, although they were reportedly invited by then President Bill Clinton.
The Raptors, of course, could secure a title, receive an invitation and elect not to go, as multiple teams have done during the administration of President Donald Trump and at various other points over the last few decades.
The Warriors, the two-time defending NBA champions, have not been invited to the White House during Trump’s administration, which began in early 2017.
While the Raptors may or may not attend a ceremony in Washington, they’ll almost certainly take part in some sort of festivities at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Canadian monarch and their representative, in Ottawa, Ontario. They’d likely meet with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau there, as well.
“All Canadians are behind the Toronto Raptors, and we are cheering them on every step of the way,” Eleanore Catenaro, a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office, told the Washington Times. “The team has already made history, and we would absolutely be honored to invite them to Parliament.”
Raptors president Masai Ujiri hinted the team was unlikely to visit the White House during Trump’s presidency at a press conference in 2017.
“When we win a championship, we’ll deal with that issue,” Ujiri said at the time. “I think we get to go to two White Houses, right? If we win a championship, hopefully one day, I think we’ll be fine with Trudeau.”
Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Raptors will tip off Thursday at 9 p.m. If Golden State wins that matchup, Toronto would host Game 7 on Sunday at 8 p.m.