Volume 96, Issue 2

Thursday, May 30, 2002
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London is "Hooptown North America"

Beware: Moronic babble below

Into the Raptors' den

The Mustangs in the Hall

Soccer fever is not just hittin' Japan...

Into the Raptors' den

Mad Child
Jordan Bell

Sports Editor

I consider myself quite a down-to-earth fellow, preferring the security which comes from routine. However, when I found myself in the situation I experienced on Apr. 14, 2002, it become extremely difficult to stay grounded.

The situation was surreal. As I frantically searched the hallowed halls of the Air Canada Centre (home of the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs) for some form of prehistoric life form, I came to a fork in the road. Seemingly in a Choose your own Adventure novel, I was given a difficult choice - go right or go left.

Initially, I took a small step right, but thought better of it and performed a complete 180. Walking towards me, cane in hand, was Vince Carter. Vince mother fu - - in' Carter.

What do you say when walking towards "Air Canada" himself? Whatever words happen to make their way out can't possibly suffice.

Desperately trying not to sound like the stuttering little fat kid in Adam Sandler's classic Billy Madison ("ta-ta-today junior"), I offered a simple "Hey, how's it going Vince."

HHis response was similar in simplicity - "Good, what's up man." However, the response meant, as opposed to just a simple greeting from another anonymous face, the world to a die-hard fan who has spent hours glued to his television absorbing the trials and tribulations of his beloved team.

It was another seemingly destined moment in a year filled with them. The dream began with an advertisement from a basketball website searching for student journalists with a zeal for writing. I responded instantly and months later I found myself driving down Highway 401 to Toronto to cover my first NBA game between the Raptors and the New Jersey Nets.

Student journalism and the professional journalism craft are worlds apart - they're basically night and day. The atmosphere at the Air Canada Centre is full of hustle and bustle, overwhelming to the utmost degree.

Stealthy movement is the key to guaranteeing a plethora of worthy quotes. Unlike university athletes dying to get their name in print, professional athletes just want to get the hell out of the arena. The journalist must understand this and make it short and sweet - get the goods and get out.

Unfortunately, the working atmosphere does eliminate the personal level, but it's a trade-off that must be made to succeed at the top.

In the case of yours truly, it's a trade-off I am willing to make. The opportunity to interview the greatest basketball players in the world about the sport I bleed is a life-long dream. To stand next to Jason Kidd or experience the rant of "The Junkyard Dog," Jerome Williams, is absolutely phenomenal.

As I finished interviewing - and staring up to the heavens at seven-foot Todd MacCulloch - I realized I was in a whole different ball game, with new players and new demands. The view is a lot different from down here.

However, I love the view.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002