Vince Carter

Holdin’ My Own: Eric Church Takes Toronto

Eric Church’s Holdin’ My Own Tour is well underway, and after his Thursday night stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre, we’re glad the Chief put these wheels in motion.

I’ve seen Eric Church once before, at Boots & Hearts 2015… and if it weren’t for some really crappy weather I would have seen him again in 2016 at CMT Music Fest. But the memories from that summer night set in front of 40,000 gave me all the buzz and anticipation I needed to get ready for this show.

With a packed house (from the GA on the floor to the last seats of the 300 level) Church stomped around the stage singing hit after hit for 3+ hours. There was no opener, there hasn’t been and won’t be on the tour, just two solid sets of the man and his band blasting their brand of country music.

After playing through his first few songs, Church addressed the crowd and promised to give them everything he had – but that he expected them to do the same… and if they did, they’d have a night they wouldn’t forget. And those fans, the ones in plaid and boots and hats and denim and aviator sunglasses, held up their end of the bargain. They sang and cheered and screamed for Church as he moved from song to song, mic stand to mic stand, and from melody to memory. And for those in attendance, it will be a concert and a night they won’t soon forget.

With a set list that included 37 songs… Church reminded us of the legendary shows Bruce Springsteen has been known to play. From the opening chords of Mistress Named Music, he was into it. If you’ve seen Church live or have watched any of performance videos, you know the signs.

☞ The fist pumps
☞ The snarled smiles
☞ The shouts and yells
☞ The extended arms

They were all there on Thursday night at the ACC.

Note: Eric Church also ingratiated himself to the Toronto crowd by bringing up his love for North Carolina Tar Heels and Raptors’ alumni, Vince Carter. He told us that his little boy has a retro Carter jersey, and he was eager to exclaim his love for Vincanity. It’s been a long 13 years since VC was traded… but to many fans, he’ll always be our guy.

Here’s the deal, Eric Church is a bad ass. He’s a rebel. And he does things his way. It’s why a tour without an opening act works for him when it wouldn’t for a lot of artists. And it’s why his fans love him.

And it’s why Church was able to play seven songs from 2006’s Sinners Like Me, and all 10 tracks from 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood. AND, that still left 20 more tracks from all the years in between!

The show had it’s share of goosebump inducing moments. From insane singalong sessions during tracks like Record Year, Kill A Word, and Give Me Back My Hometown, to the Toronto sized pop Church got when he draped a Maple Leafs scarf around his neck – there was no shortage of electricity or excitement in that crowd of country music fans.

It was a rock and roll show when the songs called for it. It was a singer/songwriter country show when the songs called for that. But more than anything, it was an Eric Church show from start to finish. No filler. No distractions. No questions. This was Mr. Misunderstood and The Outsiders and Chief and Carolina and Sinners Like Me. It was the kind of country show that makes you wish you went to more country shows.

And it was a night that we won’t forget.

You were right again Eric.

See you all back at Church soon.

Eric Church Set List – Holdin’ My Own Tour Toronto, March 2, 2017

⍟ Mistress Named Music
⍟ That’s Damn Rock & Roll
⍟ The Outsiders
⍟ Knives of New Orleans
⍟ Drink In My Hand
⍟ Carolina
⍟ How ‘Bout You
⍟ What I Almost Was
⍟ Cold One
⍟ Round Here Buzz
⍟ Mr. Misunderstood
⍟ Talladega
⍟ Like a Wrecking Ball
⍟ Pledge Allegiance to the Hag
⍟ Smoke a Little Smoke
⍟ Ain’t Killed Me Yet
⍟ Guys Like Me
⍟ Lotta Boot Left to Fill
⍟ Record Year
⍟ Homeboy
⍟ Chattanooga Lucy
⍟ Two Pink Lines
⍟ Kill a Word
⍟ I’m Gettin’ Stoned
⍟ Hung Over and Hard Up
⍟ Don’t Do It (The Band)
⍟ Give Me Back My Hometown
⍟ Jack Daniels
⍟ Before She Does
⍟ Mixed Drinks About Feelings
⍟ Creepin’
⍟ Three Year Old
⍟ Keep On
⍟ These Boots
⍟ Springsteen
⍟ Holdin’ My Own
⍟ Like Jesus Does

Damn, I used to love this view, sit here and drink a few

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Unbelievable artist, easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. #EricChurch

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What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors?

20th Anniversary Toronto Raptors LogoMaybe I should have waited a little bit before I started writing this post. Maybe just 2 hours after the end of game 7 and the 2013-14 Raptors season isn’t enough time to clearly look back and forward at the team.

But here I am. Thinking and typing and posting.

As I was watching today’s 4th quarter at The Dock Ellis I looked at the strangers I was drinking and cheering with and said, “If you had told me when we were 6-12 that we would have the ball with a chance to win in game 7 of the playoffs I would have gladly taken it.” And I meant it. In early December the season looked lost. We were ready to tank for a high pick in a deep draft.

2014 Toronto Raptors HuddleBut a funny thing happened on the way to the lottery. The Raptors started winning. And they kept on winning. A franchise record 48 wins, the Atlantic Division title and the 3rd seed in the playoffs all landed in Toronto after the Rudy Gay trade and an unforeseen turnaround for the Raps.

And while we’re all disappointed with a 1st round exit from the playoffs, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.

All-Star DeMar DeRozan has 3 years left on his contract, 2nd year starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas each have 2 years left. Amir Johnson will be back next season playing for a new contract as well.

The question marks come with Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Coach Dwane Casey and season MVP Kyle Lowry.

Will Kyle Lowry be back in 2014-15 with a new contract?
Kyle Lowry and Coach Dwane Casey Toronto RaptorsHere’s what my basketball loving friend Sean had to say about Kyle’s 2013-14 season: Absolutely our team’s MVP for the entire season has been Kyle. His attitude, toughness, willingness to put the team on his shoulders and ability to make his mark on a game in so many ways has defined this Cinderella season. I hope the Raptors are able to re-sign him for ~$10m/yr for 3ish years because if he leaves it’ll be disastrous to the progress we’ve made this year.

I agree. A $30 million/3 yr deal would be great. But to be quite honest, that statement was made before the playoffs, and I think I would be okay looking at $40 million over those same 3 years, with some team/player options built in for years 4 and 5 would work for me.

Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson 2014 Toronto RaptorsI would also love to see Patrick Patterson back as the backup big man to Amir and Jonas. And while I know Vasquez has his eye on a starting point guard job somewhere in the league, it would be awesome to have him back in a 1-2 punch role in T.O.

As for Coach Casey, his 5th place finish in the Coach of the Year voting was probably low. Taking a team that was supposed to tank and leading them to the playoffs and home court advantage was a serious accomplishment for the man who acts as a dad for a young Raptors roster. I expect that Masai Ujiri will bring back the coach on a 3 year contract with a vote of confidence and the chance to prove that this team is for real moving forward.

If I had a wish list for players to find new homes next season it would include John Salmons, Landry Fields, Dwight Byucks and Julyan Stone. That would leave room for 4 new players on the roster.

The Raptors have the 20th, 37th and 59th picks in the upcoming draft. If they can grab 2 players to add to the roster, and 1 to add to the everyday rotation, I’ll be happy. If Masai can trade up in the draft to secure a better player, I’ll be ecstatic.

Vince Carter 2014 Toronto RaptorsBut the player I’d love to add. The man that can take the place of Salmons or Fields on the roster is someone familiar. Someone who we all used to love. Someone who we all need to forgive. Vincent Lamar Carter.

Vince is a pending free agent, an ageing superstar and a solid bench player who has shown that he can contribute and be a positive veteran presence for a team.

I would love to welcome Vince back with a 2 year contract and a chance to end his career in Toronto.

My hope for this franchise is that we can start putting together 50 win seasons and perennial home court advantage teams. I would love to have the playoffs be an every year experience for a city who loves to come together with sport as the reason.

And with the NBA All-Star Game coming to the ACC in February 2016 – it would be great to showcase a winning city in prime time.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. The Nets, Knicks, Celtics and 76ers would all love to steal the division from the Raptors. And this 48 win season needs to become a starting point for future greatness, not an apparition. 

But I’m saying there’s a legitimate chance with the roster, leadership and attitude that the Raptors have started to build in Toronto.

And as we look forward to the 20th season in this franchise’s history, a chance to be back here again next year is really all I’m hoping for.

#RTZ #WeTheNorth Toronto Raptors National Anthem DeMar DeRozan Amir Johnson

2014 Toronto Raptors Playoff Crowd

4 years ago

What Could Have Been For The Toronto Raptors

Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady Dunk Contest Toronto RaptorsThis post was inspired by Michael Grange’s piece in the most recent SportsNet Magazine, “It’s Time To Forgive Vince” and conversations at work with Chris and at the bar with Erik.

It’s a “what-if” post which means that I need you to allow for some hypotheticals – ie. things happening or not happening. However, I’m not asking for too many leaps of faith here, just an alternate reality and results.

Fact: The Toronto Raptors made the NBA Playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Fact: That was it, it was all downhill from there.

What If: Trades and Free Agency had gone differently between 1998 and 2004?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.

Damon Stoudamire, Toronto RaptorsIn 1995 the Toronto Raptors selected Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudamire from Arizona with the 7th pick in the 1st round. Stoudamire was the NBA Rookie of the Year. He was a very good Point Guard and he was traded to Portland in 1998 after becoming unhappy with the team over the Isiah Thomas situation.

That brings us to our first what-if… what if Damon Stoudamire hadn’t been so upset that he needed to be traded away as he was coming into his prime in a city that loved him and on a team that needed him?

Marcus Camby Toronto RaptorsIn 1996, with their second 1st round pick in franchise history, the Raptors selected Centre/Power Forward Marcus Camby from UMass with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Camby had a solid rookie year with 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game and in 1997 he led the entire NBA with 3.7 blocks per game – a glimpse of what was to come for the future Defensive Player of the Year.

However, in 1998 the Raptors traded Camby to the New York Knicks for Charles Oakley and Kevin Willis. That’s our 2nd what-if… what if Camby hadn’t been traded for 2 old big men and we had found some other way to get veteran leadership on the team?

Tracy McGrady Toronto RaptorsMoving forward to the 1997 draft, the Toronto Raptors selected 18 year old Tracy McGrady straight from high school (Mount Zion Christian Academy) and brought him to the team where he played very sparingly in his rookie year, unlike Stoudamire and Camby before him. In ’98 things started picking up for McGrady and he was a major part of the team until he left as a free agent after the 2000 season. We know that Tracy wanted to leave because Vince was the star in Toronto, because he wanted to be the man, he wanted to be closer to home in Florida… and so he left for Orlando.

And that give us what-if #3… what if Tracy McGrady had elected to stay in Toronto to play with Vince (and in our alternate reality, Damon Stoudamire and Marcus Camby) on an improving Raptors team?

Vince Carter Dunk Contest Toronto RaptorsThat brings us to June 24, 1998 and NBA draft in Vancouver probably the single most important day in Toronto Raptors history. With the 4th overall pick the Raps took Antawn Jamison from North Carolina and then flipped him to the Golden State Warriors for the 5th overall pick, Vince “Air Canada” Carter and cash.

We all know how great Vince Carter was in Toronto. We know that he was a 5 time All-Star in 6 full seasons. We know that he was a human highlight reel that put the Toronto Raptors on the NBA map in the United States. Vince Carter Toronto RaptorsWe know that he was the best dunker in the game and his performance in the 2000 All-Star Slam Dunk contest is legendary. We also know that Vince led the Raptors to the playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Now, in our alternate reality, imagine a 23 year old Vince Carter playing with a 27 year old Damon Stoudamire at PG, a 26 year old Marcus Camby in the front court and a 21 year old Tracy McGrady at the small forward position full-time and they

So that makes this our 4th what-if… what-if the core of the team was young, talented, together and led by Vince from 1998 to 2004?

Side note: I know that there are other what-if options when it comes to Vince. What if the shot had gone in against Philly? What if he hadn’t been traded in 2004? But we aren’t dealing with those what ifs because this would have been a completely different Raptors team.

Antonio Davis Toronto RaptorsSo now our hypothetical Raptors team is coming off the 1998 season and looking to get bigger and better. So they make the Jonathan Bender for Antonio Davis trade with Indiana on draft day in 1999 bringing in a good big man to play with Camby.

And then they draft Morris Peterson from Michigan State in 2000 to be their 6th man.

Hakeem Olajuwon Toronto RaptorsThen in 2001 they get Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams from Detroit and sign Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon as their back-up big man in the twilight of his career.

Imagine that!

A 2001 team that could have had:
Damon Stoudamire PG
Vince Carter SG
Tracy McGrady SF
Antonio Davis PF
Marcus Camby C
Morris Peterson 6th man
Hakeen Olajuwon C bench
Jerome Williams F bench

That team could have competed with ANY team in the NBA Eastern Conference or the Western Conference.

Toronto Raptors NBA Championship BannerIt’s fair to say that if the contracts and players and coaches and GMs could have all stayed on the same page, the Toronto Raptors would have been one of the best teams in basketball from 1999-2000 to 2004-2005 when Stoudamire and Davis would have been exiting their prime, Olajuwon would have been retired, and Williams would have lost most of his usefulness.

But those 5 seasons… 5 seasons with talented players growing together. 5 seasons with guys who wanted to win. 5 seasons with scoring and leadership and athleticism.

Those 5 seasons could have seen the Toronto Raptors legitimately competing for the NBA Championship.

Oh what could have been for the Toronto Raptors.

4 years ago

Terrence Ross Wins the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest In A Vince Carter Tribute!

Terrence Ross dunks in Vince Carter Jersey - Slam Dunk Contest 2013If you’re a basketball fan or a Toronto Raptors fan you know by now that Terrence Ross won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Saturday Night in Houston. It was great to see as a Toronto fan and the 1st time since Vince Carter that the Raps roster includes the dunk champ.

Now, with that said – I believe that DeMar DeRozan should have been a winner when he was dunking on national TV – but he didn’t.

In fact, 2 years ago today I wrote a post for remembering Vince’s 2000 dunk display and included this:
1. Blake Griffin will probably win the contest.
2. I really want to see DeMar DeRozan put on a throwback Raptors jersey with his name on it and do some of Vince Carter’s dunks.
3. Vince might be the best dunker my generation has ever seen.

DeMar didn’t put on a VC15 jersey at the 2011 All-Star weekend – and maybe he should have because if we fast forward 2 years – BAM!!!

When Terrence Ross got to the finals on Saturday night and walked onto the floor in a Vince Carter throw back I got goosebumps. It was amazing. I loved it. And I think that we need to put things into perspective.

I know that Vince left on bad terms – but that was a long time ago now.

I know that some fans still hold a lot of resentment towards Vince.


Remember that Vince Carter put Toronto basketball on the map.

Remember that Vince dunked and we all cheered.

Remember that Terrence Ross was a 9 year old kid from Portland when Vince won the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.

Terrence Ross doesn’t hold the same feelings about Vince that some of us do. Terrence Ross is an NBA rookie who grew up watching Vince throw down HUGE dunks on TV and probably wanted to put his game together with him in mind. I know I wished I could have dunked like Vince – and I was 18 when he won that contest.

So here’s what I have to say: I’m happy that T.Ross wore Vince’s number 15 out on the floor in Houston on Saturday. I’m even happier that he won the contest. And I hope that we (Torontonians and Raptor fans) will all remember how great it felt when Vince Carter wowed us and won the trophy 13 years ago.

It was a special time – and if we’re lucky we might just be coming up on another special time now.

Be awesome!
Terrence Ross dunks in Vince Carter Jersey - Slam Dunk Contest 2013Terrence Ross and Drake - NBA All-Star Game 2013ps. We might not all love Drake or his music – but it’s pretty great to have an international superstar showing love for a Toronto team. 

5 years ago
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