By: Sebastian Novais
Acclaimed Canadian musicians and athletes gathered at Ryerson University on Monday night to take part in the first annual Juno Hoops celebrity basketball game presented by the Globe and Mail and sponsored by Clothe Your City.
The star-studded cast included notable names such as track and field legend Donovan Bailey, Drake’s official tour DJ Future the Prince, Toronto rapper P Reign, and eTalk’s Tanya Kim.
“I felt the event was very good, music counts man, it is good to give back to the music community so it was a no brainer for me to attend,” said Aion Clarke. a Toronto-based R&B singer who sang the Canadian national anthem at this year’s NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles.
The celebrities were split into two teams, Team Bounce and Team Groove, and competed in a basketball game.
Team Bounce, who was coached by Roy Rana and Kim, consisted of: Bailey, DJ Skratch Bastid, Devo Brown, DJ Future the Prince, J.E. Skeets, Michael Grange, Dwayne Pitt, Will Strickland, and Ryerson’s own Alexandrea Tkaczyk and Jordon Gauthier. Team Groove, who was coached by Charles Kissi and Archie Alleyne consisted of: Clarke, DJ Doc, Glenn Lewis, Tas Melas, Dwayne Morgan, James Nelan, Ray Robinson, Silver, Adam White, P Reign and Ryerson’s own Bjorn Michaelsen and Ashley MacDonald.
After what turned out to be a high scoring game, team Bounce managed to outlast team Groove by a score of 83 to 79.
Both teams put on what turned out to be an exciting game filled with numerous blocks, three-pointers, friendly trash talking and an enormous two handed jam by Gauthier.
“I was thinking of doing something creative, but then I just wanted to throw it down and have fun,” said Gauthier.
“I had a really good time, my face started to hurt because I was laughing so hard,” said McDonald a first-team OUA All-star for Ryerson.
Team Groove was coached by Charles Kissi, Head Coach of Ryerson Rams women’s basketball, and Team Bounce was coached by Roy Rana, Head Coach of the Rams men’s basketball team. Rana had Team Bounce jumping out to an early lead, led by Gauthier who scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the first half.
“My team really wanted to win and they were able to find me a lot of open looks,” said Gauthier.
Ray Robinson ,a former JUNO Award R&B/Soul nominee came of the bench to score six of his team-high 19 points pulling Team Groove back into the game.
With an immediate impact on the game, Robinson took home MVP honours for Team Groove along with Ryerson’s Women Basketball player Alexandrea Tkaczyk taking home the honours for Team Bounce.
Unfortunately, Robinson’s heroics did not result in the victory.
“I am a little disappointed, we should have won, but it is not about the game it is about putting on a show for the kids, fans, and giving back to the music community,” said Robinson after the game. “It was amazing of Ryerson hosting the event and to know that they support the music industry.”
Team Bounce member Will Strickland, President of the Urban Music Association of Canada, put on quite a show.
Whether it was teasing opponents by dangling the ball in front of their faces or air balling numerous deep three-pointers and even a free-throw Strickland continuously pleased the crowd while he was on the court.
“I injured my Achilles so I just rebounded, played defense and had some fun shots; I had nothing to prove, but go out have fun and win the game,” said Strickland.
As the first annual Juno Hoops celebrity basketball game came to a close many people are looking forward to take part again next year.
“For sure, I was already asking to do it again next year, I feel big time now playing with celebs,” said McDonald.
Photos by Marta Iwanek