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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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Red Deer race car driver winning on 2 completely different circuits!

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From Quentin Osborne at ParkerThompsonRacing.com

Contenders of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge across the continent gathered in Montreal this weekend as both the Canada and USA branches of the one make series participated in the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix event. Thirty-five cars packed the famed 4.3km Gilles Villeneuve Circuit for two races. Parker Thompson ran near the front of the field all weekend, and lead much of Race 2. The final results put him on the podium for Race 1. A twenty-nine second penalty for contacting another car during race 2 negated his third place finish and dropped him to 12th after the race conclusion.

Driving the #3 entry of SCB Racing and Porsche Center Victoria, Thompson was able to simultaneously score points in the GT3 Cup Canada series and the GT3 Cup USA series where he regularly competes with JDX Racing. With the weekend’s result he holds second place in the overall championship standings in both countries.

The top two spots in both Canada and the USA, show Thompson trailing series veteran Roman DeAngelis, winner of both of the weekend’s races. As a newcomer not only to Porsche GT3 Cup, but sports car racing as a whole, Thompson has surprised people on and off the track with his ability to adapt to the series. Qualifying results on Saturday placed him in the second position for the start of both races. When the green flag dropped, he further demonstrated the pace we have seen from him all season.

In Race 1 Saturday afternoon, Thompson held second from the race start to the fall of the checkered flag. With more than half of the race being driven under a full course caution, he never found a real opportunity to challenge the leader.

Race 2 on Sunday showed more drama. Thompson took the lead on the opening lap, and found himself engaged in a tight battle with DeAngelis. Thompson would hold his lead for 5 laps, before a mistake in the critical hairpin corner cost him two positions. In the remaining laps, Thompson was tightly engaged with American racer Riley Dickenson. The two traded places multiple times before the race was red-flagged after multiple collisions among the field back markers. Thompson was in the third position at the race end, but a virtual drive through penalty equivalent to 29 seconds was later assessed for making contact with Dickenson’s car. The final Race 2 results scored him 12th overall – 7th in the Canadian group, and 6th among competitors of the USA series.

“I’m happy with our overall pace on the track this weekend, but disappointed to be leaving points on the table. Ultimately, I made a couple of mistakes that put me in a position where we were more vulnerable to our competitors. With 35 cars in the field, all of the same spec, there is certainly going to be some tight racing. There is not much room for error.  I’m so thankful for the support of SCB Racing who came together with our partners in America, JDX Racing, to make this result possible. We are having a lot of fun. This #3 SCB Racing / Porsche Center Victoria car looks fantastic with its classic livery. We’ve enjoyed playing that up. Racing is it’s best when it can put on a good show. We certainly did that this weekend!” – Parker Thompson 

Thompson’s busy race season continues in two weeks’ time when he returns to Indy Pro 2000 at Road America circuit in Wisconsin. After starting this 2019 Road to Indy Championship series with a bang, dominating the opening two races, Thompson has since struggled to find a winning pace. That has been only a minor detraction from a year of racing that has otherwise been filled with great achievements. Between Porsche GT3 Cup Canada and USA, Indy Pro 2000, and the Canadian Touring Car Championship, the young Alberta native has already raced 17 times this season. In those races he has seven wins and thirteen podiums.

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Massive crowds, security concerns prove to be issues at Raptors parade

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TORONTO — A shooting that sparked a stampede at a massive rally celebrating the Raptors’ historic NBA title highlighted the challenges of organizing a large celebratory event in a sprawling metropolis such as Toronto, authorities said Monday.

Officials had to balance the fan experience with safety concerns as they planned for a kilometres-long victory parade and ensuing public party, said city spokesman Brad Ross. The biggest logistical challenge, he said, was the estimated two million fans who turned out — about a million of which were gathered at the rally outside city hall.

“How do you keep back more than a million people on the parade, when really this is all about a celebration and not security,” Ross said. “You try to make the players and the team accessible because the fans want to thank the players and players want to thank the fans.”

Barriers had been set up along parts of the parade route, but fans hopped those fences in many areas, crowding the floats that carried the team and other dignitaries. The parade itself was significantly behind schedule, leaving fans packed into Nathan Phillips Square — the site of the ensuing rally — waiting hours to see the champions.

The public party at the square, once it finally got underway, was briefly suspended due to the shooting before carrying on even as fans on one end pushed and shoved while scrambling for cover. Some parents were separated from their children, other fans lost backpacks and purses and several screamed amid the chaos.

Police said four people suffered injuries related to the shooting. Three people were arrested and two firearms were recovered, police said.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders defended the city’s role in the massive Raptors’ party.

“We’re not going to turn it in to a security event, we’re not going to transition to that, we didn’t feel there was a need for that,” Saunders told reporters after the celebration. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime for so many people.”

Ross said the city had begun planning for the parade while the Raptors played the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, using experience the team’s owners — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — and police had gleaned from the numerous events at Jurassic Park, the fanzone outside the Raptors’ arena.

Security during the parade and rally was tight around the team, Ross said, noting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other high-profile guests such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory were all on stage when the shooting occurred.

“Given the time we had to pull this together and the size of the crowd, I’d say it was a special event overall,” Ross said. “There are things that are going to happen you can’t control for, but that’s why we had such a heavy police and security presence.”

Tory said he wanted to thank the Raptor fans who showed up and celebrated peacefully as well as the police for their efforts after the “unfortunate” shooting.

“It is disappointing and I’m sure a source of anger for more than just me that anyone would carry a gun and discharge it at what was otherwise a joyous celebration,” he said in a statement.

Toronto’s transit commission closed down three nearby subway stations due to overcrowding as fans congregated downtown for the festivities. It also cut power to the overhead streetcar lines nearby at one point “due to unsafe behaviour and people climbing TTC infrastructure.”

Toronto EMS spokeswoman Kim McKinnon said besides two people taken to a trauma centre with gunshot wounds, paramedics transported about 10 people to hospital, most with minor heat-related illnesses.

“This is a very, very large crowd, so this is not out of the ordinary for us,” McKinnon said.

Toronto Fire district chief Stephan Powell said firefighters dealt with about a dozen calls for dehydration in the square.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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june, 2019

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