St. Paul’s alumni along for the ride as Toronto Raptors make history

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Andrea Santi Raptors Game

Andrea Santi (BES ’12) loves basketball. The sport has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. She plays, she refs and she’s even a time-keeper for the KW Titans of the semi-pro National Basketball League of Canada. She is also a massive supporter of the Toronto Raptors.

So when she heard about an Air Canada contest that would send some lucky fans to California to see the Raptors play games 3 and 4 against the Golden State Warriors, she submitted a photo on Instagram and crossed her fingers. To her surprise, her picture was one of the winning entries and now she is off to the Bay Area to see game 4 in person.

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For Raptors fans, their team’s historic run to the NBA Finals has been nothing short of magical. And if you’ve been following along, you know it took a little magic from their best player to get here. In game 7 of the second round, Kawhi Leonard launched a game winning buzzer beating shot that clanged off the rim four times before falling through and sending a silent Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy.

That shot has been immortalized in a photograph that has now become one of the most iconic sports photos ever taken and St. Paul’s Distinguished Alumnus Bill Pristanski (BMath ’78) was not only there, he’s in the photo!

Look closely and you can see Bill Pristanski sitting one row back, and one seat over from Jim Treliving of CBC’s Dragon Den; his face partially obstructed by the shot clock.

We asked Bill what it was like to be there for that iconic sports moment and he says it ranks in his top 5 sports moments; incredibly he has been fortunate enough to witness sports history a few times. Here’s what he had to say:

“To be courtside watching our super star Raptor take one of the most famous NBA shots of all time was indeed a historic event. Bambury and I had enjoyed watching the see-saw battle all evening from our court-side seats. It all came down to one final opportunity to win the game with four seconds on the clock. During the time out and the coach’s huddle right in front of us it seemed that some assistant coaches were suggesting that they use Leonard as a decoy since everyone in the building knew the ball would go to him – but Nick Nurse clearly knew that Marc Gasol had to inbound to our superstar who had seemingly carried the team on his back all night. I was not nervous, because we could win, but we also could not lose in those four seconds.

During that time out, I had a few moments to reflect back on great sports victories that I had seen first-hand over the years. I was there in ‘87 when the Great One fed a pass to Super Mario to defeat the Soviets in the final game of the Canada Cup series – but in that one there was still 90 seconds to play.  My son JJ and I were fortunate to be in the arena to see Sid the Kid score his OT “golden goal” at the Vancouver Olympics. And my cousin David and I were in the seats we shared to witness Joe Carter’s walk off homer to win the 1993 World Series."

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