SOURIS, P.E.I. –
If delivering the game ball in front of 20,000 rabid NBA fans and meeting your basketball idol sounds like bucket list entries, then Daniel McIntosh can cross both off his to-do docket.
The 15-year-old Souris native, courtesy of the Children’s Wish Foundation, had the pleasure last month of trotting out the official game ball for the NBA matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in Toronto.
Part 2 was meeting his basketball guy and all-world point guard Stephen Curry, who plays for Golden State, McIntosh’s favourite NBA squad.
“It was a little overwhelming. A little scary. I know I was going up and (Curry) would be one of the players, and I would be on the jumbotron,” McIntosh said. “I didn’t pay attention (to the cheering fans), I was too focused.”
It’s been a sometimes scary journey for the Grade 10 student and Souris Spartans guard.
Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which afflicts the bowels, at nine years old, he had at one point been reduced to weighing just 60 pounds. A surgery in November 2016 and continued treatment brought him back to a regular basketball-playing teenager. In May 2016, McIntosh’s father Kevin, who coached at Souris High School, passed away.
So when the Children’s Wish Foundation came through with the trip for Daniel, his brother Josh, sister Kathryn and mother Jeanna, it was just what the doctor ordered.
“I never could have imagined it,” Daniel said.
Other perks, beyond meeting Curry (who said a simple “how’s it going” to Daniel) and Raptors guard Fred Van Vleet and centre Jonas Valanciunas, included Raptors swag.
Things like sitting in courtside seats, and receiving a custom Raptors jersey with his name on it, a Raptors toque, mittens and water bottle were also part of the package. Daniel said the welcoming Raptors staff guided the family through Toronto’s dressing room where Daniel took a turn relaxing in the chair in front of guard DeMar DeRozan’s locker.
But the game and Daniel’s beloved Warriors, which he cheered for long before Golden State was a powerhouse, were big attractions, too. And Daniel studied his idol for tips and moves he could try in his next game.
“(I) just watched to see what they did. (Curry had) all lot of off-ball stuff,” Daniel said. “I didn’t think it would be much different than watching it on TV, (but) it’s so much different. The fans, the energy in the arena, a fast tempo. You talk to someone for a second and the score changes.”
And the topper for the night? Golden State won 127-125.
Daniel and the Spartans (3-6) hosted the Colonel Gray Colonels Two (4-5) squad on Friday in P.E.I. School Athletic Association senior division action. They return to the court
Wednesday when they host the Montague Regional High School Vikings at 6:45 p.m.