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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 13, 2020
No sense sitting on this vast wealth of sports experience and not share a little in these times of extreme boredom, right?
So with a writing staff here at the Sun that ranges anywhere from 17 to 41 years on the job, we offer up this series of Most Memorable Sporting Events Witnessed Live.
The rules are you had to be on site for the event, although not necessarily working.
Since it was my idea, I get to start — and once one is used, it can’t be written about again. So we’re going to leave the really old guys to the end as they’ve got more years in the business and, therefore, more options.
At the conclusion of mine I will tag the next writer in and he will do his and so on.
1. THOSE FOUR BOUNCES
In a year in which the Raptors actually won the Larry O’Brien Trophy, it speaks volumes that the greatest memory of that 24-game run wasn’t the title-clinching game. But anyone who was at the Scotiabank Arena that evening of May 12, 2019, A and witnessed the now-burned-in-your-brain image of Kawhi Leonard running left and then pulling up just in front of the Raptors bench from just inside the arc with a prayer that somehow caught rim and then bounced three more times after that before falling, would not argue this. The moment was definitely once-in-a-lifetime. I’m not ashamed to admit that when that shot went down I was on press row and I jumped from my seat as the ball fell through the twine while the sell-out crowd went absolutely bonkers. Members of the media do no cheer for the teams they cover. It tarnishes the craft and makes it near impossible to do well. But it wasn’t the result that had me jumping out of my chair as much as the sheer drama that had just unfolded. And I wasn’t the only one out of his seat on press row either. It was a moment when everything had to go right, down to the smallest detail. Leonard made sure it did and the Raptors went on to make it count in the most impressive way possible about a month later.
2. THE BAT FLIP
That I was even in the Rogers Centre for this one was a long shot. I had not covered the Blue Jays much at all that year, helping out on the odd story following a season of chronicling the Raptors. I did have 10 previous years covering the Jays, but in those 10 years (1995-2005), the closest I ever got to a playoff game with the Jays on the field was a mid-September elimination date in 1998. But with all hands on deck from Team Sun for the deciding Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS, I was afforded a seat in the press box. In all honesty, I thought this one was over after the top of the seventh, when Jays catcher Russell Martin’s toss-back to the pitcher’s mound ricocheted off of Shin-Soo Choo’s bat, allowing Rougned Odor to score from third. Initially, plate umpire Dale Scott waved Odor back to third, but after a call to the league offices in New York, it was ruled that Scott had no grounds to call time and that the run should be allowed. The crowd went nuts, showering the field with half-full beer cans and cups. The stadium felt like it was on the verge of a riot — in fact, police were called in to man every exit, with the crowd still losing its mind. The Jays managed to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, then Bautista stepped in and smacked a no-doubt three-run homer to put the club ahead for good. The stare-out at the pitching mound and the no- infamous bat flip were the cherry on top.
3. RAPTORS CROWNED CHAMPIONS
Never having sniffed an NBA Finals before this, it was extremely impressive how composed and focused this Raptors club was over a nearly two-month playoff run. That, more than anything, is the overall takeaway from this team. Variously outsized and out-talented at times, the Raptors just found a way throughout this run. The culmination, the 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors to deny the Bay Area boys their third consecutive title, was largely part-Kyle Lowry and final-quarter Fred VanVleet. Lowry single-handedly took the Bay Area crowd out of this one, scoring the first 11 points of the game. He would go on to finish with 26, 21 of those in the first half. VanVleet had 12 in the final quarter, including three huge three-pointers in the final minutes to help the Raptors pull away. His defence on Steph Curry throughout the series was really an area that didn’t get enough credit. After the game — somehow, all of us missed Masai Ujiri’s little dust-up with the overzealous security guard — the locker room was a minefield of empty champagne bottles and bear-hugging Raptors. Even the normally stoic Kawhi Leonard let his guard down, smiling and hooting along with the rest of his teammates. It was pure fulfilment of a job done at the very highest level.
4. JR. BY A NANOSECOND
OK, no responsibilities at all for this one. A group of us, mostly Sun guys, drove down to the 1992 Indy 500 in a rented camper-van. We managed to run out of gas before we even hit Kitchener, but that’s a story for another day. The Sun motorsports writer of the day was Mike Zeisberger, whom we almost managed to keep out late enough the night before the race that he missed it, but this wasn’t Zeis’ first rodeo. He was there to chronicle the closest-ever Indy 500 finish, even if most of us were still a little bleary-eyed and probably more interested in finding a stand selling coffee on his cold, rain-soaked day. That it was Canadian Scott Goodyear just missing out on the checkered flag by 0.43 seconds as his last-second dive down to the lower part of the track with Al Unser Jr. doing everything in his power to block the hard-charging Canadian made this one memorable. The crowd noise was at such a level you couldn’t even hear the engines — which is saying something at Indy. In all honesty, our vantage point from the infield was terrible, so I was at this one in person, but actually watched the finish from an infield video board. Still going to count it though.
5. ARGOS WIN THE SNOW BOWL
Sometimes, all you need is a cranky Mother Nature to come up against a championship game to provide lasting memories. The Argos’ 43-37 win over the Edmonton Eskimos in the driving snow at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the 1996 Grey Cup was certainly memorable. At kickoff, the temperature was a frigid -10C, with heavy winds in a stadium known for its heavy winds. The driving snow didn’t let up much of the evening, either, forcing tractors to clear the field both before the game and at halftime. The game itself was solid, if not predictable. With the elements such a A factor, special teams played a huge role with an 80-yard punt return from Jimmy (The Jet) Cunningham and a 91-yard kickoff return from Henry (Gizmo) Williams providing high points. But neither could match the catch made by Eddie Brown. It went into the books as a 64-yard major from Danny McManus, but the catch itself was a shoestring grab that first went through his hands, off his right thigh and then off his left shin before he somehow reached down and snagged it just above the turf while on a full sprint in the middle of driving snow. It really was memorable.
And now over to you Terry Koshan. Your turn.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020