'It's a whirlwind': Raptors head coach, players discuss NBA Finals win and upcoming draft

'It's a whirlwind': Raptors head coach, players discuss NBA Finals win and upcoming draft

After months of the most crucial non-stop practices and games of his career, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet said he's on a "pretty big high right now." 

Since the buzzer went off last week at the end of the Raptors' victorious Game 6 NBA championship game, he said it's felt like one — very long — day. 

 

VanVleet, as well as head coach Nick Nurse and other top Raptors players, spoke to media at the Raptors' training facility for the first time since returning to Toronto after winning the NBA title. 

"To reach the ultimate goal is hard to put into words, you just try to enjoy the moment," VanVleet said. 

But that's easier said that done, he added. 

"It's weird because we're always looking to what's next," he said. 

"What do we do now?"

Relax and party, he says. And then get back to work. 

Chris Young/Canadian Press

After one of the biggest wins of his career, Nurse said he's also trying to process the entire experience while planning for what's to come.

"It's hard to explain it, to be honest with you," he said. "Super happy for the team and the guys."

After spending so much time caught up in the thrall of the games, Nurse says it's time to gear up for the upcoming 2019 NBA draft, which is now just days away.

"My thought is always stay hungry," he said. "Get the guys we want back."

 

And it's no surprise Nurse was asked the question on many people's minds: Will Kawhi Leonard stay with the Toronto Raptors?

Although he didn't have a firm answer, he said the Raptors "can give him a good deal."

"I know he's got to make a decision here really soon."

'He can do everything' 

No matter what Leonard decides, the team seems to agree that they learned a lot from him as a player.

"If there's one thing that I've learned from Kawhi is just how he's always the same," said forward Pascal Siakam.

Between scoring from any point on the court and guarding any player, "he can do everything," Siakam added.

With just three years experience in the game, Siakam said this season taught him things that will stay with him for his whole life.

Natalie Nanowski/CBC

Between wins, losses, media headlines, fans and critics, he said it can be hard to be consistent.

"Just feeling like you're the best in the world and then the next day feeling like you're the worst," he said.

"But if you go out there every day and put every single thing you have into the game, it's going to pay off."

 

Centre player Marc Gasol also spoke of some of the ups and downs of the championship games — such as Game 1 against Orlando Magic and Game 2 against the Milwaukee Bucks — but said he was impressed by how the team handled the roller coaster together. 

"When were challenged, I just liked how we reacted as team," he said. 

Now that it's all over, he said he's itching to get back on the court and be challenged once again. 

"As a competitive guy, that's all you wish for, to keep competing."

Celebration parade set for Monday 

Most of the team landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport Saturday night. The late hour didn't stop throngs of cheering fans from showing up to give some love to the new NBA champs.

Last week, marked the franchise's first ever title in its 24-year history. 

From Oakland, Calif., where they secured their win, many players, coaches and staff headed to Las Vegas to party with rapper Drake and his entourage.

Watch the Raptors return to Toronto after historic win:

Today's news conference comes as Toronto prepares for a victory parade and rally on Monday.

While Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hasn't commented on expected turnout, a spokesperson did say the corporation is preparing for "very large crowds" to descend upon the city's waterfront and downtown core.

Ben Margot/Associated Press