Raptors’ Fred VanVleet shows off ‘hockey’ smile after chipped tooth, stitches

Fred VanVleet looked more like a Toronto Maple Leaf than a Toronto Raptor after Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

VanVleet took an elbow to the face in the fourth quarter of the Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Warriors Friday, while trying to guard the Toronto basket. Warriors player Shaun Livingston fell back into VanVleet after leaping at the basket, striking him in the mouth with his elbow. The blow broke one of VanVleet’s front teeth.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, top, is hit in the face by Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston, left, during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019.

VanVleet lay on the court with blood streaming from a cut under his eye after the collision.

He left the game briefly for treatment and returned a short time later with seven stitches and a broken tooth.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) remains on the floor during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019.

“The stitches I can deal with,” he told reporters after the game. “I was more upset that I had the remnants of my teeth floating around in my mouth as I was laying there on the ground.”

The 25-year-old American laughed when a reporter compared his new gap-toothed grin to that of a hockey player’s.

“If that’s what being Canadian is, I’m not sure I want it,” he said. “I don’t play hockey. I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys and what they do, but losing a tooth is not fun.”

VanVleet posted a photo of his broken smile on Instagram following the game, along with a caption saying he needs it fixed “ASAP.”

“You can use my free health care,” rapper and Raptors superfan Drake replied.

Toronto Raptors player Fred VanVleet shows off his broken smile after suffering an injury in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2019.

It was VanVleet’s second facial injury of the playoffs. He needed three stitches around his eye after taking an elbow to the face against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference final.

“He doesn’t look so good right now,” teammate Marc Gasol said after the game. “We probably won’t see him smile much the next couple of days.”

The Raptors will try to capture their first NBA championship in Toronto Monday night. The game starts at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

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