By MARIA IQBAL
Saturday, June 22, 2019
TORONTO -- The voice of the Toronto Raptors, Matt Devlin, who's been their playby-play announcer since 2008, was downtown on Thursday signing limited-edition Coors Light NBA championship cans and meeting with fans. The sportscaster emceed Monday's parade and was widely credited with helping calm the crowds during the shooting. The Globe and Mail asked "Matty D" about this year's Finals run and what it was like to be on stage at that crucial time.
You got a lot of recognition recently in response to how you handled Monday's situation. What's your response to the praise you've been getting?
First of all, I think all the praise really needs to go to the Toronto police force as well as the EMS. They were tremendous. Also, the patience of the fans, I think you can't overlook that - that the fans were just tremendous throughout all of that. So, it really was a collective effort, and you think back to Monday, to me, the Toronto police department really does deserve a lot of credit.
Can you give me a play-by-play of what was going through your head at that time? In my earpiece, I was told that there was an emergency. When you hear that, you want to find out exactly what the emergency is. We had a direct line to the authorities, they told me that there was a gunman nearby at Queen and Bay and once you have that information, you understand that you have to interrupt Larry Tanenbaum [chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.], who was extremely gracious and understood the situation. He stepped aside and allowed me to talk for two minutes, understanding that the words that you choose and the tone that you choose are extremely important during that time. I just wanted to talk until I heard something once again. Then, in my earpiece, they told me that the situation was being handled, so that allowed us obviously to continue on with the celebration.
You must have been very nervous, but you handled it very well. How did you stay calm during those moments?
You know, I think at that point you're thinking more about the people that you're speaking to. The presence of the RCMP and the authorities around us; I knew, obviously, there was that there and that's a comforting feeling. But my focus was not on that, it was really on the fans that were there in the square.
What was it like to see so many fans there at the parade?
I've said this for years and so have my broadcast partners, Jack Armstrong and Leo Rautins: We have the best fans in the world, we really do. And I think they totally showed that on Monday - but they didn't just show it on Monday, they've shown it throughout the playoffs and the regular season. The love for the Raptors is certainly appreciated, and we feel that throughout all of Canada, they're the best fans in the world.
It's been a very exciting ride for the team and the fans this year. If you had to boil it down to one moment, what would you say would be your favourite of the Finals run?
I think Game 6, winning it all, being able to say that "Canada, the NBA title is yours.
The Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA champions." I think that that supersedes even "The Shot" [by Kawhi Leonard in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals], because The Shot was magnificent, as we all know.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.