Big turnout in Toronto as Croatian Community Night celebrated by NBA’s Raptors
- by croatiaweek
- in Sport
Over 800 fans took part in “Croatian Community Night” in Toronto on Friday night, wearing traditional red and white checkers and jerseys and “We the Sjever (North)” t-shirts, to show off their Croatian pride and to support the Toronto Raptors against the visiting Detroit Pistons.
It was yet another memorable celebration of Croatian heritage in the NBA, with both younger and older generations, families, friends and members of the Croatian-Canadian community in attendance. The event, which was co-hosted by the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, MLSE and the Toronto Raptors, featured special guest and Croatian NBA-star Bojan Bogdanovic of the Detroit Pistons.
Following the 118-97 victory by the Raptors, Bogdanović, who was not in the lineup due to a lingering injury, received a heartfelt welcome courtside by eagerly awaiting Croatian fans.
Taken back by the number of people in attendance at the post-game event, Bogdanović noted how honoured he was to be able to spend time with fellow Croats at the gathering and that it was great to see that wherever we find ourselves, we stick together and are proud of our roots. He then took part in a Q&A session, with most questions coming from the younger fans, who listened attentively and will fondly remember the experience, including the selfies and autographs that ensued.
The event ended with a group photo and the singing of the refrain of “Lijepa li si” (How Beautiful You Are).
In addition to Toronto, over the past few seasons, the NBA has celebrated Croatian culture by hosting heritage nights in New York, Los Angeles, and most recently Detroit, thanks in large part to the support of local Croatian organizations and communities.
“Special thanks to all those who attended, including notably Ante Jović, the Consul General of the Republic of Croatia in Mississauga, and who contributed, including MLSE, the Toronto Raptors, the Detroit Pistons, with a special mention to Michelle Mlinaric (MLSE) who helped coordinate the event and Tomislav Puljic who helped secure the attendance of our special guest,” the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce said.