So yesterday a friend of my girl Michelle's gave us his passes to a Raptors fundraiser - the Red Party. We got free drinks and food and a chance to talk to the Raps and in the process, I almost had an aneurysym.
I walk in, the first person I see is Kris Humphries talking to some ladies. I quickly break that up by introducing myself. He didn't seem pleased. Hence, I left and didn't get a picture.
But things brightened up from there as we ran into Jim Todd, the assistant coach with the Raps who was great and a real nice guy.
Maurizio Gheradini walks by, looking immaculate in the finest of Italian threads. We walk up to an area where they're doing a silent auction. Guess who's standing there? Colangelo, talking to three ladies. I quickly walk in and introduce myself. I tell him that on behalf of all my friends, my sincerest thanks for rescuing this franchise.
He laughs and says thank you. I tell him, no seriously, it almost makes me want to cry watching this team, they're the best team I've watched in T.O since the Jays in 92/93.
Colangelo says "please don't cry."
I ask something about whether he knows anything about hockey and can he take over from JFJ. He laughs again, but says he wishes JFJ the best, that he's a good guy.
With that, my time with him is clearly over. Colangelo excuses himself and goes to get a drink. I ignore the women and go to find Michelle and my other man targets.
Rasho Nesterovic walks by. The tallest thing in the world. Anthony Parker, he's doing an interview for Raptors TV. Humphries has found more women.
Michelle and I grab some food, BBQ pork poutine. I have a Caesar and she grabs a glass of wine. This place is packed. And its mainly young women looking to play, and loser guys like me with man crushes for 7' foot tall men.
I go meet Swirsky, who's doing the MCing and is standing by himself, looking a little pathetic on his lonesome. He's clearly had too many DQ mudslides today because he's pacing around.
I introduce myself and tell him that I read his blog CCI and listen to his show in the car. He sticks out his fist and we tap. I ask him who he'd rather Toronto play - Jersey or Washington. Doesn't matter he says, we'll beat em all.
I leave Chuck and Coach Mitchell walks by so I put my hand on his back immediately.
"Yo coach," I say, "James Murphy, nice to meet you." I think he grunts and starts looking towards the bar. "Can I get a picture coach?" More fidgeting, he looks longingly at an impressive stand of women, but mutters okay grudgingly.
Michelle has a problem with the camera, but we get it going and snap the picture. Before you can say Rafer Alston, he's away. He's just as you'd imagine him.
Now, I'm totally juiced. I'm like Swirsky on a mixture of speed, coke and an IV of adrenaline. And I gotta hit the bathroom.
So I excuse myself from Michelle, and go to the mens room. There's attendants bringing the towels and soap. Totally high brow stuff.
As I finish up, Chris Bosh walks in, as tall as Kilimanjaro, and proceeds to take a leak. Knowing not to disturb, I nonetheless make an akward grunting sounds as I pass. It was totally involuntary.
I go to wash my hands, taking the soap and towel passed my way. Bosh comes to the sink beside me and does so as well. I leave the bathroom and immediately grab the camera.
Once he's out he's cornered. I stand in his way between food, drinks and women. And I am hobbit sized compared to him. I extend my hand and introduce myself. He smiles and shakes my hand. I ask for a picture. Michelle gratefully takes a snap of the two of us. We shake hands and he's off, getting swarmed (and I mean swarmed like crazy mexican killer bee style swarmage) by throngs of women.
From there, it's Jay Triano, who's a class act. Then it's Jose Calderon, who Michelle clings to like he's Castro at 30 years old...he's a great guy and I wish him the best for the playoffs.
My eyes are now pretty much scanning the room to find all the remaining tall people I can find. And who do I run into? Why Luke Jackson of course. I tell him congrats on getting a second 10 day contract. He goes into a long winded talk about how he can play, and he's just proving himself. He talk about his old injury. I tell him the dunk in the fourth quarter against Miami was unreal, the ball fake right, the left hand around the defender and the powerful finish. He loves it.
Mo Pete comes by and starts whispering in his ear. I don't hear it but I assume he said something like "dude don't talk to the dudes go get some booty." Mo Pete looks serious, and quite dashing, so I'm sure he had to go vent a seasons worth of frustration on a fine looking lady.
But before he's off I get a picture with the both of them. Sweeeet.
And that's pretty much the night. After the silent auction ended at 10:30 the party died down and most of the Raptors had taken off. I see Uros Slokar drinking, Calderon sitting with ladies, Mitchell drinking at the end of the bar with his dudes, Doug Smith the beat reporter looking lonely, and Mo Pete staring down blouses.
It was good times, I tried to share the love with the players, they were definitely all very cool and good guys. I was impressed with MLSE and the whole event. Very good memories.
All the pain and suffering through the years, the ridiculous drafts (Michael Bradley anyone?), the shot clock meltdowns (Chris Childs come on down), the bizarre lawsuits (Butch Carter suing Marcus Camby) the disturbing images (Lenny Wilkens turtlenecks) and the down right disgrace of the Vince Carter era was finally made good.
Bring on the playoffs.