steph

I used to work at Playdium in Mississauga a long time ago. I’m on my break one day so I go to the mezzanine and the bar area to check out the quality of selection for that evening. I see two tall black gentlemen leaning on the bar looking down towards the playing area and something strikes me about one of them. He’s got a really weird head. Not Sarah Jessica Parker weird, but there’s something off about it. It’s like an egg which has been hammered on one side but has managed to somehow not break, but only leave a dent resembling a smooth ditch. I walk a little closer and my suspicion is confirmed.

At this point my attention turns to the other man, a young lanky guy with a careless disposition. He’s conversing with a woman, short and fat, at least fatter than what should be allowed. She’s sitting on a chair twisting her legs, flirtatiously and with a smile that hints that there’s more to be seen. The actions of this woman don’t appear to have a bearing on the man, he smiles back, but fully knowing that there’s no chance that the unspoken requests of the woman will be satisfied. That doesn’t stop him from having some fun by leading the lady on, perhaps to pass the time as the other man answers his phone.

As a casual observer of the situation, something less obvious catches my eye. The first man is sipping on a cocktail while the lanky one is cradling a glass of Coke. The first man finally ends his phone call and signals to the other that they better be moving on as the slow night at the Playdium isn’t to his liking, and that there are better offers elsewhere. I’m not aware whether any of these two actually played a game that night, but it was the first time I saw a Raptors player in person. The two guys were Dee Brown and Tracy McGrady.

I arrived at Pearson airport after attending a cousin’s wedding in Kansas City, and was in the customs hall where a peculiar figure caught my eye. A very tall black gentleman dressed rather casually with a backpack waiting in line to have his documents examined. The lines that night were very long, a few flights from Europe had just arrived and the wait was wearing on the passengers. This man didn’t seem very affected by it and strolled along at a snail’s place as a tired customs officer asked a pointless question, stamped a passport, and asked the patron to move on. At this point, my wife turned to me and innocently pointed out, “That guy’s really tall”, not knowing that for the past minute my attention was solely focused on the subject. “Yes, he is, isn’t he?”, I responded. She lost interest and went back to complaining about how the line was long.

Around this point I recognized the man, it was a Raptors player. I wanted to take a picture because this was only the second time I’d ever seen a Raptors player outside of the arena, but there was a sign displayed, “Absolutely No Photography Allowed”. That didn’t stop me from trying and I waited hoping that the twisting lines would allow the man to face me so I could snap a picture. They didn’t. Soon he was next in line to have his passport examined, so I finally decided to take out my camera and shoot from the hip.

That man was Chris Bosh. He was coming back from a Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. Here’s the picture.

What’s your Raptors story?