Kobe Bryant achieved international stardom during his storied NBA career — but his impact on basketball in Canada was particularly unique.
Bryant — who was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others — was simultaneously an inspiration to countless Canadian athletes who would go on to professional careers and a tormentor of the country’s NBA teams as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here is a look at Bryant’s relationship with basketball in Canada — both as a friend and a foe — as tributes to the late basketball icon continue to come in.
Tormenting Canadian teams
Before the recent success of the Toronto Raptors, yellow jerseys adorned with either the No. 8 or 24 were ubiquitous whenever Bryant came to town. But Bryant’s most iconic moment against the Raptors came in Los Angeles in 2006, when he dropped 81 points on Toronto.
Bryant’s 81 are the second-most points scored in an NBA game, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points scored as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962. The performance is even more stunning due to the fact it came a month after Toronto held him to just 11 points.
Even games at what was then-known as the Air Canada Centre could have been mistaken for Lakers home games due to Bryant’s transcendent stardom. And for Raptors fans, who for years were starved for any semblance of celebration, a missed shot at the buzzer by Bryant in 2010 was cause for celebration.
Bryant — who owned a 24-9 record against the Raptors — would go on to finish his career as the third-highest scoring player in league history, a mark that was surpassed by current Laker LeBron James on Saturday.
Watch: Kobe Bryant’s last game in Toronto
But what about Canada’s other NBA team, the late Vancouver Grizzlies? Well, Bryant notched his first-career triple-double in 2001 against the team, which later relocated to Memphis.
Feted in Toronto
Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star during his career, and his final all-star appearance in 2016 was cause for celebration. The festivities were held in Toronto that season, and the weekend for all intents and purposes turned into the Kobe show.
Watch: Kobe Bryant honoured before final NBA All-Star Game
After the video aired in the arena, NBA legend Magic Johnson took the microphone to laud Bryant even further and eventually introduce a second tape of Bryant’s moments, with the retiring Los Angeles Lakers great narrating parts of it and other All-Stars offering him words of thanks.
Bryant then addressed the crowd, as they chanted his name at a deafening level. Bryant said he’s “been extremely fortunate to play the game I love and be in the NBA for more than half my life.”
He ended his remarks by saying, “Thank you so much — and now I’ve got to go get loose.”
Bryant checked out of the game with just over a minute remaining, leaving to a standing ovation, hugs from players, and more chanting of his name. The West easily defeated the East by a whopping score of 196-173.
Idolized by Canadian players
Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant left his mark on many basketball players whom eventually made it to the NBA — including several Canadians.
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray grew up in Kitchener, Ont., idolizing the five-time NBA champion.
Murray, who was drafted seventh overall by the Nuggets in 2016, told the Denver Post that he admired Bryant’s famous “Mamba mentality.”
“It was his drive to win, it was his never give up on plays, his confidence level in himself and what he could do, his belief in his team, just everything,” Murray said.
After learning of Bryant’s death, Murray tweeted: “I’m trying to process but I just can’t man.”
Surreal day. Every inch of the Pepsi Center has gone quiet. Every person flipping through their phone or shaking their head. Here’s the moment Will Barton informed Jamal Murray about the news. <a href=”https://t.co/D46C6pH4yV”>pic.twitter.com/D46C6pH4yV</a>
Toronto’s Andrew Wiggins has said he watched Bryant’s game voraciously as a child and modelled his game after the star. Wiggins, who plays for Minnesota, would wind up scoring on his idol during a game in February 2016.
After knocking down a fadeaway jump shot with Bryant defending, Wiggins — who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Timberwolves in 2014 — turned to him and said: “I got that from you.”
Andrew Wiggins backs down Kobe Bryant, nails fadeaway <a href=”https://t.co/gjlzN4YXlf”>pic.twitter.com/gjlzN4YXlf</a>
The admiration was mutual.
After a game against the Timberwolves in 2014, Bryant said that playing against then-19-year-old Wiggins was “like looking at a reflection of myself 19 years ago.”
Joining forces with notable Canucks
Bryant even had a few Canadian teammates during his illustrious career — notably Rick Fox, who won three consecutive titles in Los Angeles with Bryant in the early 2000s.
Fox, a small forward from Toronto, was a solid contributor during the team’s title run in 2000 and developed into a key starter for the Lakers’ next two championship victories.
Reserve centre Robert Sacre, a one-time member of the Canadian men’s national basketball team, also played for the Lakers during the latter part of Bryant’s career.
But the highest-profile Canadian to share the court with Bryant was two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.
While a member of the Phoenix Suns, Nash and Bryant faced off three times in the NBA playoffs, with the Suns winning two series. At the end of his career, Nash elected to team up with Bryant in Los Angeles, but injuries to both players limited their on-court time together.
“My heart is broken for Kobe and his family,” Nash tweeted on Sunday. “I’ll never forget the battles but what I really admired was the father he was to his girls.
“Rest In Peace old friend with your angel Gianna.”
Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson reveal pro Canadian women's soccer league set for kickoff in 2025 – CBC Sports
Professional women’s soccer is coming to Canada.
Christine Sinclair and former national teammate Diana Matheson announced on Monday plans to kick off a domestic professional women’s league in 2025, featuring eight teams throughout Canada.
The two players sat down with The National‘s Adrienne Arsenault to reveal the news.
After the duo helped Canada capture bronze at the 2012 Olympics — Matheson scored the medal-clinching goal — Sinclair expected progress. After all, the team had just snapped Canada’s 108-year podium drought in the sport.
“I really thought that 2012 was going to be a turning point for this country in bringing professional soccer home,” Sinclair told Arsenault. “But it never happened. And there’s still no pathways within this country.”
And so, a decade later, Sinclair and Matheson took matters into their own hands.
The still unnamed league would begin in April 2025 with an inaugural champion crowned sometime in the fall. Each team will have at least one Canadian international, and the goal is to bring home about half of the over-100 Canadians currently playing abroad.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler examines absence of top domestic women’s league:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Calgary Foothills Soccer Club are confirmed as the first two teams to join the upstart league.
“Whitecaps FC are thrilled to be one of the first teams to sign on to a professional women’s soccer league in Canada,” said Stephanie Labbe, Whitecaps FC general manager of women’s soccer. “The creation of this league is something we have been advocating for over many years, and to be part of seeing it come to fruition is truly exciting.”
The league is being built by Matheson and her business partners at Project 8 Sports Inc. Sinclair, soccer’s all-time international scoring leader, is on board as an official advisor.
“The whole idea behind this is to aim high. And like, if you’re not, what’s the point?” Sinclair said.
“So let’s go out from the get-go and compete with the best leagues in the world and bring in the top talent. And yeah, have 10 year olds watching a game that 10 years later is on the Whitecaps, for instance. That would be my dream.”
Matheson, who retired from playing in July 2021, has visions of the league pushing the entire Canadian women’s sports infrastructure forward.
“It’s health and wellness. It’s confidence. It’s tied with better academics. There’s a huge tie between women in sport and women in business,” Matheson said. “And this is about soccer, but it’s about the coaches, it’s about the referees, it’s about women in executive roles in sport.”
Part of that women’s sports fabric comes down to marketing like jersey sales. Sinclair said she can’t even get her hands on her own jersey to gift to her niece.
“I don’t know if they exist,” Sinclair said.
Matheson, 38, said she’s been working on obtaining her Master of Business Administration, as well as partaking in UEFA programming. She’s hoping the league becomes a Canada Soccer member by 2023, with full sanctioning by 2024
She said Air Canada and CIBC are already on board as sponsors, and that it’s especially important to have the right team owners involved in the league.
“One of the things is having more diversity to begin with — more women, diverse voices to begin with, more players voices to begin with. And that’s top to bottom. I want women owners, women in the executive, women’s player voices as part of this,” Matheson said.
The Oakville, Ont., native made the case that the buy-in, which is expected to be between $8-10 million, is a worthwhile investment, noting that National Women’s Soccer League clubs, which were bought for $150,000 US 10 years ago, are now valued at a minimum of $35 million US. The Orlando NWSL franchise was purchased in 2021 for about $400 million US.
Matheson said her league can compete with average player salaries across the world right now.
“We just have way more opportunities to monetize our own brand. Players can do appearances, they can work with companies, they can run camps in a way that they just can’t when they’re playing in Italy and England,” she said.
Another point of importance for Matheson and Sinclair is ensuring players in their league are protected. Reports of abuse in the NWSL last season resulted in the resignation of half of the league’s coaches.
Sinclair is captain of the Portland Thorns, whose CEO Merrit Paulson stepped down in October following reports of systemic emotional and verbal abuse, as well as sexual misconduct.
“[It’s] unfortunate just how women are treated and taken advantage of. That’s why we need women owners. We need female executives,” Sinclair said.
Added Matheson: “It’s training, it’s vetting, it’s independent reporting systems. And for us, that’s going to mean working with those groups that are really good at doing those things.”
At its crux, though, the league intends to establish pathways for young Canadian women to stay in soccer and work their way onto the national team — to foster future generations so that one day they could get their golden moment like Sinclair had in 2021 in Tokyo.
“It’s time to change the narrative and inspire the next group,” Matheson said. “I believe kids need to see it to believe that it’s possible to happen. And with the launch of this league, kids will be able to go into their own backyard and watch their heroes play and dream of one day representing their hometown professional club and maybe representing Canada.”
Sinclair said she was once one of those kids, watching the 1999 World Cup with a dream to be on that pitch herself one day.
23 years later, the Burnaby, B.C., native has accomplished nearly everything she could in her sport.
“We’ve inspired Canadians on the podium,” Sinclair said. “Now it’s time to actually make an impactful difference here in Canada.”
The Most Famous Online Slots for Canadian Players
It has been over 130 years since the first slot machine was introduced to the world. The poker-themed slot became a novelty in bars where patrons would play and be rewarded either with drinks or cigarettes based on the spun poker hand. Through the years slots have evolved a great deal.
Currently, in Canada, provinces are responsible for all gambling activities within their jurisdictions as solidified by the article in sumsub.com/blog/gambling-in-canada/. In the past years, Ontario has been able to generate the largest gambling revenue at $3.8 billion, Quebeck at $2.73 billion and British Columbia at $1.2 billion. Slot games accounted for approximately 11% of betting activities, with the lottery accounting for 65%.
Online gambling game developers have worked on ensuring that slot games are as diverse as they are plentiful. their online look and experiences are like watching a video game being played. Slots’ technological advancements have allowed for computerised graphic reels which have moved from your three-reel offering and can now include up to 7 reels.
Types of Slots
There has been a steady decline in patrons in bricks and mortar casinos, with preference being given to the convenience of online casino sites. Slots are a favourite for online players as they have shown higher returns to players of 96%.
Not only this, there is a better selection of online slot games accessible through multiple devices at any time of the day. This is further reflected by the number of operators reviewed on gambleonline.co/en-ca/casino/games/slots/, which house the selections in their gaming libraries.
The multiple variations of slot games also mean there will be a lot more types that would be offered. The built-in features not only provide for a better experience and entertainment but provide more play options as well.
Progressive Jackpots Slots
The slot game is connected to a network which connects all players who play the game. For each spin made no win is recorded, as a portion of their wager is added towards the jackpot. Therefore, the jackpot will gradually accumulate or progress.
Playing a progressive jackpot, the player will have to make the maximum wager on the spins. Though the jackpot could grow into the millions, the chances of winning are similar to those found in lottery tickets. Either than the increasing jackpot, progressive slots typically have a particular theme and spin with three or five reels.
As the name suggests, a player makes use of pennies to play the slots. Since it’s not realistic to play with a penny, these are converted into tokens which are in turn converted into credits. With these credits, you would be able to play and meet wagering requirements.
On an online platform, it’s the name that no longer retains the actual function. With the advancements made in slot games, the pay line is the determinant of gains. These are the multiple winning combinations possibly generated which typically carry wagering requirements.
These slot games are available in multiple designs, with a common 3-dimensional element to them. They have a combination of features like having multiple pay lines and mini-games within the game. Due to their 3D graphic nature, they are also presented in popular culture themes or movies.
Features of the slots are typically no different than your normal slot game. The difference is the animated video graphics of the game which make for visual candy. The added experience is a bombardment to the senses through which the enhanced experience and feel when winning a game for the player is accentuated. It is an additional part of the broader RNG slot technology that is clearly explained in howtogeek.com/183051/htg-explains-how-computers-generate-random-numbers/.
Another aspect is the adoption of gaming into slots. The development of Virtual Reality VR-enabled slot games makes it possible for slot players to enter into an augmented space and play.
The offerings of VR technology make it conceivable to enter a virtual casino and play slots. No longer just the feeling of looking at your screen and pressing the buttons. Slot games still offer the same feature, but VR technology provides the experience of being in a virtual space while still in the comfort of your home.
Interactive Slots (i-Slots)
Rather than expecting to spin the reels for hours on end, interactive slots or i-slots provide a twist to the game. Interactive slots’ two main components are that they offer a mini-game within the game as well as a storyline. So each time the player spins is engaging and interactive while accessing bonus features and wins.
The player would typically play through a storyline which has obstacles and challenges. The game challenges in return would unlock bonus features intended to assist advance the player. Though the games may provide low volatility, RTP is typically high, which makes the play all the more worth it.
5 of The Most Played Slot Games
Slots are not games merely for fun and entertainment thus the player expects a return. A slot game whether online or not will need to meet this particular requirement for the player to feel it has been worth it to place a wager. That is why great care has been taken to deliver games which cater to the players’ expectations.
Factors like how often the game payout, wagering conditions, availability to bonus features and RTP are considerations to take into account. Features that make the game easy to play and understand, yet entertaining, make for an all-rounder in a gaming experience.
1 – Megah Moolah
This highly popular slot game has been developed by Microgaming who have an impressive record for offering great games. The slot game has been responsible for the highest slot machine win in the history of $23 million Canadian. Mega Moolah is an interactive game with a progressive jackpot of four jackpots within the game.
The slot game has a high RTP of 94%, though the volatility is low. Catering for all budgets, the player can make a spin for as little as 25 cents, with which they are eligible to enter one of 4 game jackpots and possibly earn some bonus features.
2 – Thor: The Trials of Asgard
One of the latest offerings with a Norse mythology theme following the trials of legendary comic hero Thor. The Asgardian leads players to spin in a slot with 5 reels with 3 lines, expanding to an impressive 1024 pay lines. So prepare yourself to play in castles, walk with dragons and immerse yourself in mystic Nordic lore.
The slot has a high RTP of 96% where players can win 10 free spins when if they can land on 3 scatters. Wild spins can offer small, medium or really big wins allowing the player to increase their chances of earnings and bonus features.
3 – Book of Dead
Book of Dead is an Egyptian-themed slot game developed by Play n Go which presents a 5 reel and 3 rows spin. The minimum wager is 10 cents whereas the maximum is 50 cents. The game takes the player into an adventurous storyline where symbols gained along the way bring rewards of almost 150x for your wager.
The game may not have a progressive jackpot, but it holds some impressive features for the player which increase its volatility. The combination of symbols could see a player win 200x to 5000x their wager. This does not include the free spins they unlock.
4 – Wheel of Wishes
Wheel of Wishes is a Microgaming offering from the Alchemy studio. This slot game has an RTP of 93%, with minimum bets from 20 cents and a 4x progressive jackpot to boot. The slot offers a 5×3 reel with 10 pay lines which could see the player gain 500x on their bet with 5 symbols anywhere on the reel.
One of the game’s features is the Power Mode where the player can increase the value of their bet 10x, which in turn could activate the Power Spin. This feature activates for the player 2 or more symbols allowing for increased chances of winning.
5 – 9 Masks of Fire Hyper Spins
This slot game is an old game from the developer Gameburger Studios and Microgaming. It can offer players a 5×3 reel grip, which is common. The game has been revived with new features offered as bonuses in the form of extra spins, which are played at the players’ discretion.
With a progressive jackpot in play, the 96% RTP is accompanied by medium volatility. The minimum bet that can be made is 60 credits on a spin, able to access any online and mobile device platform. Masks on the reels provide the player with different prize offerings, with different payout values.
Though the thrill of making a wager may be exciting, it is prudent to review some of the game choices you make. Understanding the different features in each slot game also helps the player not only fulfil their wagering requirements but also work to gain the most out of the gaming experience.
Deshaun Watson returns from ban, declines to express remorse
Deshaun Watson signed autographs, posed for selfies, ignored the boos and earned a sloppy win.
Again, he declined to express remorse for behaviour that earned him an 11-game suspension.
Back in his old home to play his first game in 700 days, Watson showed plenty of rust debuting with Cleveland, but the Browns didn’t need him to do much in a 27-14 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
After signing jerseys for Texans and Browns fans and taking pictures with a few more before the game, Watson was overwhelmed with boos once it started. He heard jeers before each snap in the first half and for much of the afternoon.
“They’re supposed to boo. I’m a Cleveland Brown now,” Watson said.
Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage sessions. He has settled 23 civil lawsuits brought by the women, while two others, including one filed in October, are pending.
Asked if he felt remorseful for his actions in his return to Houston, Watson said his legal team told him not to address questions about his suspension.
“Of course, it was a tough situation,” he said. “The suspension was tough but, at the same time, my main focus was just to try to be 1-0 as a football player today.”
Pressed further, Watson said: “I was just excited to be back on the field today. I did everything I was asked, was required to do. I did all that.”
Watson had several supporters in the stands before the game, while a group of the women who accused him of sexual misconduct also planned to attend. Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women, didn’t respond to a text message seeking to confirm their attendance. He said earlier in the week about 10 women wanted to attend “to kind of make the statement, ‘Hey we’re still here. We matter.”’
One fan walked into NRG Stadium wearing a derogatory shirt in Browns colours that includes text saying “I need a massage.” He was joined by a fan wearing Watson’s No. 4 Browns jersey.
Fans in the parking lot set up a fake massage table with a mannequin wearing a red Texans jersey and a towel.
The few fans in their seats when Watson and the Browns jogged onto the field about an hour before kickoff booed.
“It is what it is,” Watson said of the boos. “I can’t control what the fans do. My job is to go out there and execute.”
He didn’t do that too well.
Watson finished 12-of-22 passing for 131 yards and one interception. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback posted the worst passer rating of his NFL career at 53.4. The Browns (5-7) got two defensive touchdowns and a special teams score to beat the Texans (1-10-1).
After an interception gave the Browns their first possession at their 43, Watson threw two incomplete passes. He spun away from a sack on third down, and fans cheered when his throw to David Bell hit the ground.
Watson’s first completed pass on his third attempt resulted in a turnover when Anthony Schwartz fumbled after a 12-yard gain. Watson later drove the Browns to Houston’s 11 before throwing a pick in the end zone.
“We don’t expect him to be Superman after he hasn’t played in two years,” All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said.
Watson sat out the 2021 season after demanding a trade from Houston. After two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him over allegations of sexual harassment and assault, the Browns traded several draft picks to get Watson and then signed him to a fully guaranteed $235 million contract.
During warm-ups, Watson signed jerseys for fans behind the end zone. An 18-year-old man from East Texas got Watson’s autograph on his Browns jersey. A couple from Houston wearing Texans jerseys also got Watson’s signature on their jerseys.
“We don’t really know what happened and everyone deserves a second chance,” said Sherry Holden, explaining her support.
Several Browns fans said they were uncomfortable rooting for Watson.
“I’m cheering for the jersey and the team but it’s hard to accept him as my quarterback,” said Brandon Collins, who travelled from Ohio for the game.
The NFL wanted to suspend Watson for at least one season but settled for 11 games after an independent arbiter initially gave him a six-game ban. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed to former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson calling Watson’s behaviour “egregious” and “predatory” in seeking the full suspension.
Watson also was fined $5 million and required to undergo professional counselling and therapy. Watson has maintained his innocence but also apologized to the women he impacted and
The Browns went 4-7 with veteran Jacoby Brissett filling in for Watson.
Coach Kevin Stefanski committed to starting Watson next week and emphasized him getting his first game out of the way.
“He looked very sharp in practice and he’s excited for the next one so he understood this one was going to be different,” Stefanski said.
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