Cleveland Cavaliers player and Brampton native Tristan Thompson received the key to the city at the Brampton Soccer Centre on Friday morning.

Thompson played a key role in the Cavaliers NBA Championship win against Golden State Warriors on June 19. Members of the public got to meet the basketball star, as well as see the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Councilor Gurpreet Dhillon, Wards 9 & 10, a huge basketball fan, introduced Thompson to the stage.

“In his short career, Tristan has become one of the best power forwards in the game.”

Tristan 10

With loud cheers from the crowd, Dhillon handed over the key to Thompson.

Councilor Michael Palleschi, Wards 2 & 6, and Rowan Barrett, executive vice present and assistant general manager of Basketball Canada, were also on hand for the celebration.

Thompson had some words for his fans.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Especially being Canadian and trying to play basketball at the highest level.”

“Most Canadians, they go to junior college and they come back home and start life, but my goal was to knock that barrier and kick that wall down.”

When asked how it was like to bring the championship to Brampton, he says “There’s no better feeling. I never pictured this as a kid being a NBA champ.”

Thompson started his basketball career at his high school, St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School, which is just up the road from the Soccer Centre.

Thompson says, “I just remember going to d’Youville and having the dream to do something, to be part of special. I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”

“I knew I loved basketball but I never thought I’d make it to the NBA or play the [NCAA] Division 1 level.”

Thompson played for the University of Texas for one year before declaring for the 2011 NBA draft. He has since played five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He was also part of Canada’s bronze medal team at the 2008 FIBA America Under-18 Championship in Argentina. Tristan is the first Brampton native to win a NBA Championship.

Listen to Councilor Gurpreet Dhillon and Tristan Thompson at the Brampton Soccer Centre:

All photos by Nikita Brown. Audio from Divyesh Mistry.