Congratulations to the 2019 NBA World Champion Toronto Raptors!

Toronto Raptors NBA World Champions
Toronto Raptors – NBA World Champions

After 24 years of existence in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors are the 2019 NBA World Champions!  This is our city’s biggest championship win since the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series championships in 1992-1993.  We finally have something to be proud of!  And we probably had one of the most epic championship parades in all of professional sports too!

Trust the process

To be honest, the Raptors were definitely ahead of schedule (realistically a year or two) in their championship development.  Much credit goes to team president Masai Ujiri for expediting this process.  It was his gusty executive decisions for taking risks in trading for superstar Kawhi Leonard, veteran Marc Gasol and promoting Nick Nurse as a rookie head coach. Masai made change happen.

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve stopped supporting the Raptors since the Vince Carter era.  Put it simply – they just weren’t competitive enough or didn’t have the right leadership at the helm.  They had some really bad teams over the years just getting mopped by other teams.  If you are a Toronto sports fan, you understand the mindset of having your expectations fall short year after year.

The shot heard around the world.

I really started becoming entrenched in this playoff run when Kawhi Leonard hit that buzzer beating, game 7 series winning shot over the Philadelphia 76ers.  That probably was the biggest shot in the team’s history.  It also reignited my interest in Raptors playoff basketball.

This was a complete team effort from the rest of this group, who stepped large on the big stage.  We are seeing right behind our very eyes, new stars emerging on the front court.  The sky is the limit for players like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet to name a few.

Raptor favourite Kyle Lowry came up big in Game 6.
Raptor favourite Kyle Lowry came up big in Game 6.

Victory.

If you had told me back in October that the Raptors would be winning the NBA title, I would have said that you’re out of your mind and don’t know sports.  But this year’s crop did it and really made a name for themselves playing basketball in June for the first time ever.  At least I predicted that they would win the series in 6 games!

Toronto Sports Legends
Toronto Sports Legends

*UPDATED 10.22.19:

RAPTORS RECEIVE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS

 

Chicago Trip 2019

Chicago
My view arriving in the windy city

Today’s blog is going to recap my latest travel. On Boxing Day 2018, Porter Airlines offered a great promotion – 30% off select flights. One of the offerings that caught my attention was the city of Chicago.  If you know me, I love to pull the trigger on a great deal.  So last weekend I flew out to the windy city and here’s a recap of what I did.

Arriving in the Chi

I arrived at Chicago Midway Airport around 11am local time. The first thing I thought upon my arrival was how I would get into the city. Luckily, I checked my Lyft app and there was a promotion offer for 50% off six rides!  I couldn’t believe it, what perfect timing.  My 40-minute Lyft ride into downtown Chicago was only $6 USD!

Once I checked into my hotel at the Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile, I picked up my online shopping mail that I sent to my address. This is a great way to save money if you don’t want to get hit with pricey Canadian shipping and duties fees. Always mail it to an American address if you can, it’s cheaper in the long run.

Cloud Gate aka The Bean
Cloud Gate aka The Bean

The Bean / Buckingham Fountain

After settling in at my hotel, one of the first destinations that I wanted to check out was one of the city’s top tourist attractions – The Bean. It is a stainless-steel structure that debuted in 2006 and its actual named is called Cloud Gate. But “The Bean” has a nice ring to it as well lol.

When I arrived there, there were hundreds of people taking selfies and group pics. It turns out that it is also a cool visual to take your wedding day photos there too. I saw some great bride and groom shots take place. This was nothing short of genius and definitely a memory to remember.

Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain

Up next was the iconic – Buckingham Fountain, the centre piece of Grant Park. I really enjoyed taking in this spot. This historic fountain has been a mainstay for over 90+ years. I was able to capture some beautiful shots. Truthfully, I only know about this water fountain because it was used in the intro for the TV show Married…With Children 😂.

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New York Trip 2019

Wayne Lapasa with Kelly Kelly
With social media influencer Barbie Blank fka WWE’s Kelly Kelly

Every April, I schedule the first week off from work. The reason being is because WrestleMania hosts their biggest wrestling card of the year. I’ve always left a vacation week open just in case I decide to attend. Ask me how many times I ended up travelling to wherever the town was hosting the event. My answer? Zero times 😂.

It has been a while since I last attended a WrestleMania event, my last time being in 2004. Over the years I’ve kept an eye on the product from a distance. So here we are 15 years later, I felt now was the time to once again check out the grandeur and spectacle that the event has to offer.

And just by coincidence, the 35th edition of WrestleMania was being held in the New York area, which is one of my all-time favourite destinations to visit. I know what your thinking…you were just there eight months ago and you’re back again? Yeppp!

Getting into town

I flew out of Toronto on a dirt cheap Porter Airlines flight ($256 CDN) on a Thursday afternoon and arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport. After I cleared all of the security checks, I was wondering what would be the most cost-efficient way to get into Manhattan since I was travelling solo.

I started Googling on my phone different options and one of them was a van shuttle service that charged only $18 USD to do. They would literally drop you off to the doorstep of your destination. This route made the most sense and was much cheaper than taking a $30+ USD Uber.

An impromptu tour of NYC? 🤭
An impromptu tour of NYC? 🤭

Originally what I thought it would be a 45-minute drive into the city, turned into a two-hour ride. The catch for this shuttle service was that they would drop you off based on proximity, but there were 10 of us. In my case, my drop off point took a little longer as my Airbnb was in the Flatiron District.

Anyways, you live and learn. To be honest I wasn’t upset at all. I got to see different areas of the city in a non planned sight seeing tour of NYC, which is always cool to take in. And this was WrestleMania weekend, I had a full itinerary of festivities to look forward to.

WaleMania V
April 4 – WaleMania V

WaleMania V

The first night in New York I took in the event known as WaleMania, which comprised of both hip-hop music and pro wrestling communities merged all under one roof – Sony Hall. Believe it or not, the two genres are big fans of one another. It is a classic parallel of the artists wanting to be like the athletes and vice versa.

Enter rap personality Wale, the man behind the marquee. The D.C. native is one of professional wrestling’s biggest supporters. He originally burst onto the music scene in 2009 and is still maintaining his relevancy today. The past four WaleMania’s, have grown into one of the best lead-in events during WrestleMania weekend.

WaleMania V
WaleMania V – the union between hip-hop and pro wrestling

Sony Hall was jammed packed and sold out. WaleMania featured a who’s who of the top titans in the industry. There was an urban vibe throughout the whole evening which included wrestler Q+A sessions, rap performances and more. It was great to see many wrestling personalities all over the venue, on stage, by the bar, in the lobby, etc. And all of them were very approachable and down to earth.

I’m glad I was able to take this in, as I had read about it for years. WaleMania delivered and set the tone for WrestleMania weekend. If you like wrestling and hip-hop music, I highly recommend you check out next year’s installment in Tampa Bay, Florida.

WrestleMania Axxess
April 5 – WrestleMania Axxess

WrestleMania Axxess

The next day I met up with my friend Donovan who recently moved from Toronto and now resided in Queens, New York. We headed over to the borough of Brooklyn to check out WrestleMania Axxess, a five-day festival featuring all things WWE.

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