BRISTOL - Kyle Maves wants to clear the air on a nationally controversial topic. The Toronto Raptors were not cheering the Kevin Durant injury.
“Canadian people are too nice to do that,” he said.
Maves has some personal experience with Canadians because, well, he is Canadian. Maves hails from Burlington, Ontario, and lived in Canada his entire life until this past fall, when he moved to Hamden to play baseball for Quinnipiac University. He’s a Raptors fan, and he had to come to the fanbase’s defense - and his country’s.
“They weren’t cheering for him getting injured,” Maves said. “I played hockey growing up. Whenever a player gets hurt and they carry him off the ice, they clap, so I think that’s what they were doing. But everybody, all of social media, took it to the other side of that, thinking we were cheering for him being hurt. They were immediately bashing them and the whole country.”
A little less than 24 hours after the Raptors blew a six-point lead with less than three minutes left of Monday night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Toronto, Maves was in a tiny bit of pain when asked about his NBA team’s loss.
The Bristol Blues second baseman - already dealing with the Blues’ fourth consecutive defeat after a 4-2 loss to North Shore on Tuesday night - admits he’s not a die-hard Raptors fan, but he has still been strongly rooting for his country’s bragging rights. And that’s why it hurt a bit when they couldn’t close it out.
“When I lived in Canada, I was pretty die hard, but now that I’ve moved here, I’ve followed sports in general a little less,” Maves said. “I haven’t even watched the Blues Jays at all this year. But when I lived there, I watched every game when they were in the playoffs.
“It was a tough, tough loss [Monday night], but hopefully they can pull it out. It’d be great for the city and great for the country. The country will go wild if they win.”
If Toronto wins, Canada will have NBA supremacy over America, though Maves readily admits the U.S. is better than Canada in a few categories.
“This is my first time living out of the country. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but it’s nothing crazy,” Maves said. “The places are kind of similar. But to be honest, I like America better.
“I don’t like Canada’s politics. It’s kind of like a watered-down version of American politics. I like America better, and I like the girls more too. The Canadian girls are decent, but they’re definitely better up here in the northeast.”
Maves has been able watch the Finals games more lately, watching in his room at the home of his host family, the Sassus.
Before that, though, Maves wasn’t able to watch the start of the series. He was a little preoccupied with bigger things.
After Quinnipiac won the MAAC tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, the Bobcats were sent to the Greenville Regional on June 1, and they had to prep while Game 1 of the Finals was taking place May 30.
The Bobcats beat No. 1 regional seed and the No. 10-ranked team in the country, host school East Carolina. They then lost to Campbell on June 2 - during Game 2 of the Finals - before falling to East Carolina later that day to be eliminated from the tournament.
It was an incredible experience, though, says Maves, and it’s one he was able to bring with him to Bristol.
“It was crazy. Ridiculous,” he said of the experience. “We’re a small school and only flew on one trip this season. We got to fly down there and had the best meals we had all year. The practice facility was incredible. Best facility we played at all year.
Winning the MAAC tournament was the team’s goal headed into the 2019 season, and when it won that, Maves and his teammates were hungry to do some damage in the regional.
“We kind of went with a ‘screw-it attitude,’” Maves said. “We went into East Carolina with a packed house with 5,000 fans. We played loose and played relaxed, where most teams would be uptight. We kind of just stuck to our game. We won that first game, and it was wild. We felt like social media was blowing up about us. We were kind of the underdog story.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org