Wednesday, 25 September 2013
COURTSIDE COLUMN-TORONTO RAPTURE
Oh Canada, in mid February of 2016 it'll be almost 10 years since this love story began. Almost a decade since I started my lifes dream and rewoke a Basketball one by taking a years working visa to Canada and laying my sports cap in the great city of Toronto. 10 years since this man who has loved Basketball since he was 10, got to see his first, live Basketball game....well around 15 impulse buys of them to be exact (and that was just in the T-Dot, I took a spur of the moment trip to L.A. during that time too). A kid who previously only got to watch the odd late night T.V. show or pixilated internet video to get close to the game he loved more than his England countries national treasure of football. A kid who grew up playing with and collecting Dinosaur models, albeit with chewed tails, while having 'Jurrasic Park' as his favourite movie and mountie police series 'Due South' as his favourite show was obviously going to be attracted to the Toronto Raptors and the country of Canada. Besides it was almost a Tom Cruise mission to get to live and see all the other NBA teams in neighbouring America.
Still, Canada and it's prime city was the place for me. I was caught up in its Anita Baker rapture. Unfortunatly after coming home for Christmas with every intention to come back, one thing lead to another and my year and life in Canada didn't happen. This was a regret until I realised there was a bigger plan for me and a better life than I could have ever imagined in the love of my life at home years later. A girl who I coincidentally met for the first time just a few months shy of my departure and now today I want to share the rest of my life with, especially a trip back to my second home one day. The best thing to ever happen to me who in the same month this year as I left in '06 is about to embark on a travelling trip and amazing adventure of her own. I couldn't be happier for her and I wish and hope she has a trip 10 times as good as mine. If it was even half as good as mine it would be the best one ever. I stayed close to my old friend Canada and Basketball by writing. It was something I always wanted to do and I started writing reports of games while chowing down on the Loose Moose's awesome fries and split screen sports, for myself, sought of like a guys diary. I picked up the pen once again in the U.K. when I realised the way I could stay close to the game and country I loved but couldn't see was by the art of he creative word.
When you create work yourself thats when oppurtunites happen. Just ask the Marvel that is Clark Gregg's Agent Caulson and the 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D' Avenger series. Opportunities have happened for me via writing from everything and everyone from SLAM magazine to music/movie star Tyrese Gibson and Australian music site Music Feeds and Bleacher Report. I am eternally grateful for everything everyone has done for me and anyone who has taken the time to read just one of my articles. That was no plug though...this is. The one company that has stayed loyal to me over the years is the Canadian site Basketball Buzz and the great help of his founder Edilson Silva. What started as a couple of people and laptops is now growing before your eyes and some big announcements that I can't say but you will know soon. I appreciate everything the site has done for my progression as a writer and even before all that it has just served as a beautiful, wonderful way to stay connected to Canada. It doesn't matter how far away I am, the place will always have a space in my heart and the beat writing for the country helps keep that running strong.
I even had the opportunity to meet another great writer and now great friend in Quett Walker, who is now part of the Buzz team and is worthy of the hype as the next great writer. He may not believe it yet, but you and him will see he really is. He makes me step it up and is the only guy I read regulary that's not named Scoop Jackson (my writing mentor) and the late, legend and greatest to ever write it Jim Murray. I met Q in strange circumstances in his home city of London when he sold me an exhibition ticket to watch my beloved Lakers (hey, no one's perfect) but we connected and stayed in touch by our love for Basketball (he's a Rockets fan and is letting me hear it about Dwight Howard) and the fact that he too knows what it's like to live and love Toronto. The guy misses the city like me, but through his writing the country will never have to miss out on what he has to offer...and that's as factual as his deep and meaningful, introspective and inspired pieces of journalism.
It's a funny old world isn't it? All of this can't just be coincidence. So maybe, just maybe 10 years later all of these wonderful twists and turns of live will head down the epic road that leads to the view of the classic CN tower (oh yeah, I saw it in the background of 'Due South'...I thought that show was set in Chicago? Wink, wink!). I so want to see that view once again, it's been way, way too long. But I can wait. Maybe if me and my girlfriend venture out to the cold of Canada around valentines but for a different reason we'll meet up with the two friends that have kept me connected to this city and my Basketball writing. Maybe it will be meant to be and perfectly fitting that we take in a special game together to mark the occassion. Still, yesterdays good news for Toronto and Canada is bigger than me. It's not about me. It's bigger than all that but still special to me. We are excited for GTA and we aren't talking about the game that's dominating every tweet and status not about the new love or hate Apple update. It's even bigger than the New York Knicks/Nets, battle co-hosting next February. Even bigger than my plan to finally see Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympic games. This is how much it means.
Bigger than the what could have been with country cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady (what a team and legacy they could have made). Bigger than Air Canada or those arena shaking no contest dunks. Bigger than what could have been with the Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns like great team that showed they where no purple Barney dinosaurs (featuring Calderon, Parker, Ford and Jorge the garbage man amongst others) that went so far but so near in the year I went to town in 2006 and could have been better than Vince's time. Decisions, decisions hey?! Bigger than the smile of the friendly ticket tout who saw me and my money approaching each game. Or almost as big as the heart of my good friend Dan Koufis who worked in the Toronto Raptors gift shop during my stay and was great to me (I miss you good buddy). Bigger than Toronto's underground hoops hot-bed that proves it's never too frozen-over cold to lace them up. Bigger than the fact that the Raptors are the only surviving NBA team outside of America, now that the Vancouver Grizzlies are extinct and reborn in Memphis. Right now the biggest thing happening for Toronto 10 years later in 2016 is that they will hold and host the NBA All-Star game of basketballs greatest players. No matter what's been said or happened. I guess some things are meant to be and stay in Toronto. TIM DAVID HARVEY.