One of the things that has always frustrated me is why professional athletes are criticised for going out to socialise after a loss. It’s like people expect them to mope around at home and do nothing apart from agonise over the defeat.
And yet in the real world, what’s the first thing you’ll consider doing after a tough day (or week) at the office? That’s right! You go to a local bar for a drink or ten.
As such, after last night’s tough loss to the Knicks, Jonas Valanciunas went to Guu SakaBar on Bloor Street West. The staff were so excited, they asked to have their photo taken with the Raptors centre:
And just in case anyone thinks Valanciunas is enjoying himself far too much after being beaten by the Knicks, give the guy a break. Try and tell me he isn’t forcing a smile over that pained expression on his face.
Despite not paying much attention to the Raptors before 2006 (when I first came over to Toronto) one of the first things that became blindingly obvious was everyone loved Morris Peterson. (His teammates, the fans and even the media!)
Of course, it helped when Peterson came up with highlights like this, which is easily in my top-five all-time spine-tingling moments of following Toronto’s sports teams:
As such, there’s little doubt ‘Mo Pete’ deserved to be honoured during yesterdays game at the ACC:
Gracious as always, Peterson also took the time to pose for pictures with the fans:
Something tells me he didn’t need much persuading, especially if the young lady on his right is anything to go by.
Not exactly hidden away in the occasion was the small matter of the Raptors opponents being the Miami Heat. They entered the game with a 21-game winning streak, which began when the Heat were last in Toronto.
Although barely believable, the Raptors actually remained competitive for the majority of the game. No really, it’s true. Look!
Unfortunately, it was after this point that the Heat decided to stop messing around, cruising the rest of the way to a 108-91 victory. In the process, they also equalled the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. (22)
Not too surprising, Lebron James left the court with a big grin on his face. (Wait till he finds out he came up two assists short of a triple-double! Yeah, that’ll wipe the smirk off his face.)
To be fair, when you’re playing at such an out-of-this-world level, it’s difficult to hate King James. (Yes, yes, I know. Unless you live in Cleveland.)
With the Raptors dropping to 26-41, it will take a miracle 15-game winning streak to avoid yet another losing season. How they must wish they could somehow guarantee the services of the top U.S. college basketball prospect Andrew Wiggins.
The Toronto-born Wiggins was seen talking to fellow Canadian Joel Anthony in the tunnel after the game:
I just hope Anthony wasn’t giving Wiggins tips on what it takes to succeed in the NBA. Nothing against the Heat centre but he didn’t exactly light it up against the Raptors. (One rebound in 3:52 minutes.)
With the job done, the Heat returned to Toronto Pearson Aiport to fly back to Miami:
Oh that’s right, I forgot Chris Bosh was playing! Funny how it’s only when the jobs done, that we finally got our first significant sighting of him.
(Come on! You knew I had to close with a shot at him!)
‘To the wonder’ of everyone at the ACC last night, there was some star power in the house. And if you were one of ‘the lucky ones’, you were seated near Canadian actress Rachel McAdams:
Given the ‘state of play’ by the Raptors in the loss to the Wizards, McAdams likely proved to be a pleasant alternative to the action on the court, which potentially could have given you a ‘Red Eye’ because it was that bad.
(Okay, that was pretty lame. I’ll stop referencing films McAdams has starred in now.)
One of the funny things about whenever people see someone famous is the subtle attempts to check them out and then fail miserably, instead looking even more obvious and creepy. Case in point, the guy with the cap on standing directly behind McAdams in this picture:
At least the cameraman to the left has a convenient excuse worked out, as per the equipment he has in his hand. (Steady!)
Sometimes, it’s better to be brazen about it and just go straight up to the star in question to ask for a photo, like this gentlemen:
Of course, you knew the Raptor mascot was going to have to try and woe her at some point, such is his out of control ego. Don’t let the smile fool you, McAdams quite rightly looks both scared and suspicious as the Raptor makes his approach:
And then goes in for the kill as he gets mixed signals:
Let’s just hope McAdams reported the Raptor mascot for sexual harrassment and he ends up behind bars. I mean, who are the police more likely to believe: a grown man who dresses up for a living and pretends to be someone they’re not or a grown woman who………..oh, just forget it.
As such, anyone who still remains crest-fallen from this development will want to look away now as we look at some photos from the couple’s short break to Miami, where they are currently celebrating their engagement.
As you would expect, any holiday to Miami at this time of year features a lot of nice weather. Fortunately the couple were kind enough to take a photo showing have much they are enjoying the weather:
I feel like I’m about to get blinded if I don’t cover my eyes. And I don’t mean because of the sunlight.
Here, we find the couple just about to head out for something to eat. Something tells me they could end up at the worst restaurant in Miami and you still couldn’t get those smiles off their faces:
Mind you, we should have known there was little chance of their ending up in a dive, because when it’s going well, it’s going well. Look at the size of that dessert:
In fact, Fields was so focused on the dessert, he was oblivious to the couple on the next table sneaking him into one of their photos:
Of course, no matter where athletes go, it’s always a hazard of the occupation that somebody will want to have their picture take with you. At least the Raptors star was ready the next time this happened:
Depending on your perspective, we end on a high or a low point, with this photo from the hotel resort where the couple are staying:
Wow! What a spectacular view. And for once, I’m not talking about Elaine Alden.
Yesterday was one of those days where everything went right for the Raptors Landry Fields: He got the start against his former employers the New York Knicks, he led his team with 10 rebounds and they came away with a hard-fought 92-88 win.
Oh, and he got engaged to his model girlfriend, Elaine Alden.
Couldn’t be happier!! Marrying the woman of my dreams!! God is SO good!
Some people would term the way Fields proposed as being creative:
Personally I’d call it premeditated, but then I’m a very bitter man.
Not that you can blame me. Just look at these photos:
What do you mean you don’t see it?! LOOOOOOOK!!!
Fields was actually very cunning about the whole thing, planning for them to fly away to Miami this morning for a short holiday during the All-Star break. Fields knew there was no way he was going to be playing this weekend.
In all seriousness, congratulations to the happy couple. I hope they both enjoy a long and prosperous marriage. Preferably to each other.
I’ll say this about Torontonians; they love their sport and never miss a photo opportunity when it comes to the local athletes. Take for example John Lucas and Mikael Pietrus.
The two Raptors only went into a shop with the intention of purchasing a watch* but the owner didn’t miss the chance to have his picture taken with both of them:
* I’m assuming they were sent in by coach Dwane Casey to get watches for the entire team in a desperate attempt to avoid any more big-lead collapses. “Look guys, when the big hand’s pointing upwards and the little hands on the eight, we’re only HALF way through the game. It hasn’t finished yet!”
In fact it looks like the Raptors can’t even go for a quiet drive anywhere without getting flagged down. Here’s Landry Fields with another slightly over-enthusiastic fan:
You can tell by the look on Fields face that he’s not impressed. To be fair though, the fan himself seems to be grimacing rather than smiling.
He has a look that says: “Arrr CRAP!!! I only pulled you over because I hoped Elaine Alden was with you. And now I’m going to have to pretend I want my photo taken with you so as not to cause offence.”
Here it is, the moment a lot of you have been waiting for: the first sighting of the newly acquired Rudy Gay in Toronto after arriving at Pearson airport:
Despite GM Bryan Colangelo insisting Gay always wanted to be a Raptor, the former eighth overall draft pick is wearing the startled look of someone who is still not entirely aware of what’s going on. Or maybe it’s just hit him that the weather isn’t quite as warm in Canada as it is in Memphis.
Also, I don’t know for sure if Gay is flashing the victory sign there, but somebody needs to tell him that’s not how we roll around here.
You can click here at 12:30pm for Gay’s introductory press conference, live from the ACC.
The Raptors picked themselves us from Saturday’s last-second loss against the Cavaliers to host a social event at the Ballroom on John Street in the downtown core last night.
Called the Raptors Red Party Remix*, it gave fans the chance to meet some of their favourite players and hang out with them for the evening. As you can see, there were quite a lot of people in attendance:
* I suppose we should point out it was presented by Foot Locker. But we’re only saying this because the event was for a good cause.
Raptors TV announcer Matt Devlin took to the stage to welcome the crowd:
We can only hope he was wearing that jacket because he lost a bet or because his wife bought it especially for the event and he didn’t want to offend her.
It was definitely a fun occasion, with people getting the chance to bowl with the players. Here’s Amir Johnson with some guy from the emergency services, although I’m more interested in the view to the right of them both:
Unfortunately, whenever a game of bowling takes place, you can always guarantee there will be someone who wasn’t invited but doesn’t take the hint and still shows up:
Ed Davis decided to partake in a game or two of ping-pong. Fortunately he puts in more effort than this when he’s on the court:
And here’s Terrence Ross taking on all challengers at pool:
After being followed around and harrassed for half of the night by some over-zealous individual, Jose Calderon and the Team Up Foundation team decided it was just best to pose for a picture with the guy:
One of the best things about events like this (apart from raising money for a good cause of course!) is that you’re always likely to have one or two attractive women in attendance:
What are the odds they don’t actually know who any of the players are?
Overall, the night was a huge success and everyone involved took to Twitter to express their gratitude:
We’ve all been there: It’s a madhouse at home and you want a bit of peace and quiet, so you leave the house for a walk. But while you’re out you decide to pop into your local Sobeys to do a bit of shopping.
Unfortunately, what started out as a nice relaxing break can become an issue in a place like Toronto, especially if:
a) You’re seven foot tall
b) You’re famous
c) And you play sport for a living
In which case, this is likely to happen:
Poor Andrea Bargnani. He has that ‘startled deer in the headlights’ look that you normally see on the court.
Talking of which, I wonder how the recovery from his strained right wrist and torn ligaments in his right elbow is going? Let’s just hope ‘Il Mago’ is remembering to carry the shopping with his good arm.
Poor Andrea Bargnani. It was bad enough when he started coming in for heavy criticism, ironically since his injury in early December coincided with the Raptors finally learning how to win with more consistency.
But now, he appears to have stopped caring full stop, if this photo is anything to go by:
Slouched and unshaven, the former overall number one draft pick looks despondent. I’d like to say it’s nice that he still appears to have some fans, but I’m not even sure about that. The other guy in the picture looks like he was preparing to poke Bargnani in the eyes until realising he was out of reach.
Personally speaking, I hope ’Il Mago’ returns from injury sooner rather than later in order to help the team, but more importantly, himself.