Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
In the grand scheme of these playoffs, it is a singular moment that, taken to any other end, wouldn’t have mattered. The capital-A Adult Jimmy Butler shot just preceding it had tied the game at 90 apiece, meaning it would have gone to overtime anyway. Like the Damian Lillard shot against Oklahoma City before it – but also, so very unlike the Damian Lillard shot against Oklahoma City before it – the fortune of the shooter’s team would, at the very least, have been no worse in the moment after had he missed.
When Kawhi’s moonshot clinked-clanked-clunked-and-clinked-again before dropping in, sealing the Toronto Raptors’ 92-90 victory and sending the representatives of the lone Canadian outpost in the NBA to the Eastern Conference Finals, the basketball world stopped, if only for a brief respite. Now, with that ball through the hoop and the Raptors on to a date with the Milwaukee Bucks, as many questions have arisen as were answered.
“I am Toronto.”
With these three words, and a reported $139 million, Compton native and All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan took his seat at the table of the NBA’s leader in latitude, the modern king of the midrange having found comfort in an uneasy Eastern Conference all the more unsettled by the various fluctuations that the summer of 2016 carried with it. DeRozan’s empathy for the frozen North made for great newspaper fodder, but it did not alleviate the worry that fans of his team, the Toronto Raptors, had at the time concerning their franchise’s future.
As has become the standard, that relief would arrive the following summer, when All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry inked his own $100 million deal to stay in Canada. Along with DeRozan, Lowry represents Toronto’s best chance at viability in an Eastern Conference long dominated by LeBron James’ regular season malaise giving way to humdrum playoff dominance. By seizing control of the #1 seed in the East, along with several high-profile wins, including those against Houston, Cleveland and a back-to-back drubbing of dark horse Process favorites the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto has edged its way into something like favorability, edged on by a modernistic offense and an ability to rise to the occasion.
So, Canada. The stereotypes abound for our neighbor to the north, from being polite to the point of apology to a seeming national mandate to wear flannel and grow beards to an unconscious appetite for maple syrup and Molson. At the moment, the country’s greatest export is a former teen actor-turned-living PBR&B emoticon who has enough #VIEWS to spawn several generations of memes. Innocuous, vaguely socialist and definitely non-confrontational: this is the Canada we know and love°.
A nation with seven (7) NHL teams and only one NBA franchise has this season seen its hockey teams fail to produce a single playoff participant – when half the league goes to the playoffs – and its basketball team reach its final four. Thus far, the Toronto Raptors have played two seven-game series and are arguably lucky to have escaped both on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Nevertheless, Toronto did make it, and though the spectre of the league’s most dominant player awaits them, it would seem foolish to write off the resident reptilians.
Saturday Night Live/NBCUniversal
For some of us, 2015 was a year of fulfillment, consistency and hope. For the rest, it served unpredictable dishes with sides of indifferent mediocrity, crushing despair and lukewarm-bordering-on-cold broccoli. That’s not to say that lukewarm-bordering-on-cold broccoli is necessarily bad, but it definitely could’ve been better.
No matter the feeling of leaving 2015 in the cracked rear view, a new calendar is upon us. With it comes so many more opportunities for change, inspiring moments in sports, reasons to believe, heartbreaking losses and chances to leave your friends hanging by staying in on a weekend night because you don’t want to deal with it. We at TwH get that. In that spirit, we gathered around our digital campfire and threw darts into our brains trying to pinpoint some of what we think may come to fruition in the coming year. Don’t quote us on this.
Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated via AP
On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced that Serena Williams was the recipient of its annual Sportsperson of the Year Award, a marvelous gesture for a certainly deserving and wholly underappreciated athlete. That gig comes with a stirring S.L. Price cover profile and recognition for a year well done. Unfortunately, what should be an innocuous distinction seems also to be accompanied by the anger of fans whose preferred choice in the matter, a non-human, finished second.
In the wake of Serena’s selection as Sportsperson of the Year, horse Twitter revealed itself.
“WORST MOTHERFUCKER NEVER LOVED US.”
This is the first line from Drake’s “Worst Behavior.” I have been listening to this song a lot lately because I am one of those motherfuckers who never loved Drake, got a late pass and decided to listen to this album a month ago. This song has stood out to me because it’s Drake’s musical double middle finger salute. It may be counteracted by “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” but still, this song is the hardest I’ve heard by the rapper pejoratively referred to as Young Garnier Fructis by “Ghostface Killah.”
It’s a song that I didn’t see coming, but that’s because I never held any microscope to the former DeGrassi star. I just assumed Drake was going to keep doing Drake things, like sulking sensually. Nope, Drake has a breaking point when he can’t stop thinking about people like me who never thought he did anything other than the aforementioned. “Worst Behavior” is a Twitter rant, a response to being disrespected. It’s Roy Hibbert’s “y’all motherfuckers don’t watch us” set to a trap beat. It was the soundtrack to my attitude on Friday night, when my social media outlets filled with solid orange glee from Clemson fans.
Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone
After having gone through the PBR&B rabbit hole, and after many rotations of the mixtapes House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence, we have come to a point at which we know what to expect from the Canadian producer and singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. His feelings seep through every word and coo, often reverberated heavily with tinges of extreme sadness. “Wicked Games,” in particular, became a YouTube sensation, hitting over 25,000,000 views and becoming the quintessential Weeknd song, complete with an eerie, hypnotic beat, heavily altered drum patterns and vibrato vocals full of fear, detachment and a longing for companionship. Since 2010, when Tesfaye began releasing songs to the Internet under his current pseudonym, he has become buddy-buddy with Drake and gotten signed to Universal Republic Records and, finally, released his first studio album. Read More
Have you heard? Kendrick Lamar is the King of New York. Yeah, he crowned himself on a track with Big Sean and Jay Electronica. Did I mention that he dissed them but not really dissed them on the same track? Yes, it’s true! You should aspire to be Kendrick because he’s one of the best. So go back to the studio, lames. Perfect your writing because K. Dot will not be stopped.