ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) Despite the heat, thousands of people flocked to the City Market Pavilion in Downtown Rockford on Saturday to celebrate with the Forest City's only NBA Champion, Fred VanVleet.
The 25-year-old helped the Toronto Raptors win their first NBA title in franchise history, scoring 22 points in the series clinching Game 6. He also knocked down 16 three-pointers in the NBA Finals, a Finals record for a non-starter. He did that, all while guarding one of the best shooters on the planet, Steph Curry.
"It was a tough task guarding Steph, he still averaged 30 or whatever he averaged," said VanVleet. "But, just tried to make it tough on him. Tried to change things up and try to take him out of his rhythm and not let him dominate the games. I think, other than the one where he had 47, I don't think he really dominated any of the games. That was key."
"I knew that if I could limit him a little bit or throw him off his rhythm, that it would help our team win and that's what I focused on."
VanVleet came home Saturday to a rowdy crowd at the Pavilion ready to party. He said he loves having the support of the city.
Many people spoke at the rally, including Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Rockford Area Conventions and Visitors Bureau President John Groh.
VanVleet then took the mic and spoke from the heart, talking about his upbringing and wanting to leave Rockford better than when he was growing up. He always bet on himself.