With a potentially historic Game 5 on Monday night, the Toronto Raptors decided that not just any national anthem singer would suffice. As it turned out, it wasn’t any one singer at all, but rather the thousands in attendance at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, who were enlisted to belt out “O Canada.”
The Raptors, who are seeking the franchise’s first NBA title, entered Monday’s game with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to eliminate Golden State at home. And ahead of the game, “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed by Monica.
When it came time for the host nation’s anthem, the Raptors’ regular vocalist, Doug Tranquada, delivered the first verse before pointing the microphone toward the crowd of about 20,000.
That resulted in a stirring scene, one that seemed to convey that all of Canada — including, of course, Raptors superfan and hip-hop superstar Drake — was behind the Raptors, who ultimately lost Game 5.
The hordes of fans in Jurassic Park, just outside the arena, were not to be denied their chance to sing “O Canada,” either.
In 2006, Oilers fans in Edmonton similarly took charge of their anthem before a playoff game against the San Jose Sharks. In 2017, Oilers fans even pitched in on America’s anthem when audio issues arose before a game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Before Game 2 of the Finals last week in Toronto, pop singer Alessia Cara also took the opportunity to let fans help her sing “O Canada.”
Game 6 is Thursday in Oakland, Calif.