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Raptors fans’ cheers after Durant injury ‘overstated,’ Toronto mayor says

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Toronto’s mayor is defending his city’s basketball fans, saying cheers from Raptors supporters when a star Golden State Warriors player got injured in Monday’s nail-biter playoff game are being “overstated.”

Large sections of Raptors fans at the Scotiabank Arena initially cheered when Kevin Durant went down clutching his Achilles tendon, prompting several Toronto players to wave their hands to get the crowd to stop.

Many in the stands soon started clapping instead and muted “K-D” chants could be heard as Durant was helped off the court in the second quarter.

The incident drew criticism from some Golden State players and observers, including many on social media.

But Toronto Mayor John Tory stressed Tuesday that while any crowd may contain some who react the wrong way, the “vast majority” of people at Monday’s NBA Finals game in Toronto acted like good sports fans.

“I was in the arena and it happened right at the end of a play and people were cheering at the end of the play but very quickly after that (Durant) got a very warm round of applause as he was taken on to the dressing room — as he should, he’s a superstar, and nobody wants to see him hurt,” Tory said.

It’s important not to overblow such incidents or make generalizations about what Toronto sports fans are like, the mayor added.

“Toronto sports fans are good fans, they’re considerate fans,” Tory said. “They understand a superstar when they see one and I think that’s the kind of applause he got as he left the arena.”

At least one Toronto fan set out to salvage Raptor Nation’s reputation following the incident by launching an online fundraiser for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which helps at-risk youth.

“We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant,” says the fundraiser on GoFundMe.

“This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians.”

The fundraiser, which aims to collect $50,000, received roughly $250 in its first hours.

Some players previously said they were surprised at the initial fan response.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors from 1999-2002, said Monday that the cheers left him “confused.”

“It’s not my experience with the people of this city,” said Curry, whose wife, Ayesha Curry, grew up in nearby Markham, Ont. “I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series.”

The Warriors eked out a victory Monday, winning 106-105 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Finals. Game 6 of the series goes Thursday in Oakland, Calif.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Testing! Testing!: The PGA Tour Has A Dead Parrot Problem

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Jupiter, Fla.: In case you haven’t noticed, the PGA Tour is doing its rendition of the Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python.

C: “Look, my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.”

O: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’!”

A visit to the Cognizant Tournament of the Palm Beaches (Honda ended its 40-year sponsorship this year) showed a business struggling to respond to its fan base and its competitor— the LIV Tour, three years after the Great Golf Schism. Around us, those fans who could be bothered watching the golf, not each other, were asking, “Who’s that guy?” as unknown player after player teed up his ball.

Make no mistake, a long shot is a popular story. But the Tour this year has been like golf’s witness protection plan. Canadians loved Nick Taylor’s win in extra holes at Phoenix, but he’s hardly a household name in the U.S.. A steady diet of first-time winners— Matthew Pavon, Nick Dunlap—veterans left for dead— Grayson Murray— and guys sharpening their games for the majors— Hideki Matsuyama, Chris Kirk—  is not making LIV shake in its Skechers.

The problems start with the fields for the Tour’s events after last winter’s  shocking defection of Jon Rahm, arguably the world’s top player. While events on the West Coast swing had a scattering of the remaining top names— Scotty Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Victor Hovland, Colin Morikawa— the Cognizant had only Rory McIlroy as an elite player from the depleted 2024 card holders. The draw sheet looked like a Xmas tree they’d started decorating about 90 percent up the branches.

Whatever star power NBC had for their coverage went into the water on the 16th Hole Saturday with McIlroy’s errant tee shot on the par four. That left it to 2019 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry to carry the recognition segment of the field. That was before a torrential tropical storm delayed play for  four hours on Sunday, pushing the finish to Monday morning.

What made the tepid field so disappointing for fans is that so many of the top pros live in the same area code as the PGA National layout— and many of the non-attendees will play a private Member/ Guest event Monday at the nearby prestigious Seminole Golf Club. (If you want to know what McIlroy was sprinting to finish in the dark Sunday, it’d because he plays Wirth his Dad at that event.)

Whispers suggest that the absence of top names at their event contributed to Honda pulling the plug. If you talk to those close to the Tour, there remains a bitterness among players who stayed loyal to the Tour when LIV threw around crazy money. Assured that they stood for integrity, unlike the Saudi-backed LIV upstart, they’d be rewarded. Only to have the Tour stab them in the back by secretly negotiating  a peace pact with the hated Greg Norman/ Phil Mickelson operation.

As well, having long been told by the Tour management there was no money for changes, the LIV challenge “suddenly” freed up more money. The structure of who plays and for how much was given a radical shift. Just don’t ask fans to explain the Player Impact Program, the new Earnings Assurance Program or the designated play-in tournaments. There’s a lot of Trust Us in the new reality.

One has to only watch a deflated McIroy, the Tour’s staunch defender, to see the embarrassment he feels (he’s now pulled back from the Tour’s governing structure). LIV member Taylor Gooch wondered aloud if a first Masters win for McIlroy would come with an asterisk with so many LIV stars not competing.

McIlroy needs no cap days, but it’s now clear that others who stuck around missed the money dangled by the Saudis, and no one is telling them how they’ll make it up. This disparity was reportedly one issue behind the meldtdown of Team U.S. at last September’s Ryder Cup.

For Cognizant, an IT company that has reportedly signed a multi-year commitment to sponsor the event in place of Honda, it must be a little humbling to see the Tour unable to produce a field worthy of their investment. And players sprinting in darkness to finish rounds so they can make other obligations.

This attrition of the Tour’s hold on the sport might be understandable were LIV grabbing the spotlight of golf fans. But LIV has only a minor TV network in the U.S., a jarring presentation format and very little word of mouth. Joaquin Niemann has won the past two events in the middle of the night North American time. Who knew? But he won’t be at the Masters.

Not that it’s all beer and skittles for the LIV defectors. As the Official World Golf Rankings do not recognize LIV events, players like Sergio Garcia and the South African players on LIV are rapidly losing their world ranking points to get into the major tournaments. A host of players are now scrambling to find a “side door” into the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA. Those tournaments are all over the world, going from this week in Jeddah, SAU, to next week in Hong Kong. (Seems like melatonin is in everyone’s bag.)

It’s a sad state for golf fans being denied the best players on a weekly basis or—  even more disappointing— at the majors. There is little indication what format the so-called settlement will entail when it’s finally hammered out between the Tour and LIV. But one thing they can agree on is that none of this is doing anything to please fans or sponsors of the sport.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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Taxpayers Federation calls for transparency on World Cup costs

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Carson Binda 

“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim to release updated cost estimates for the FIFA World Cup games scheduled for 2026. The CTF is also warning Toronto taxpayers that FIFA bills are spiralling in that city.

“Vancouver taxpayers deserve accountability when hundreds of millions are on the line,” said Carson Binda, British Columbia Director for the CTF. “Costs have ballooned in Toronto and Vancouver needs to be honest with its taxpayers about how much the soccer games are going to cost.”

Recent financial estimates have blown past the initial budget in Toronto. In 2022, Toronto expected the total cost of hosting world cup games would be $290 million. That number has now ballooned by 31 per cent to $380 million.

“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already,” Binda said. “That’s unacceptable when taxpayers are getting clobbered with higher taxes.”

Currently, the cost to host seven games in Vancouver is up to $260 million, however the provincial and municipal governments have consistently failed to produce updated cost estimates.

“What are Premier David Eby and Mayor Ken Sim hiding?” Binda said. “They need to stop hiding the numbers and tell taxpayers how much these soccer games are going to cost us.”

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