It wasn’t exactly a banner finish to 2013 for Alan Vale.
The name may not sound familiar, but his plight just might. Vale was the fan in the Raptors jersey below. He’s the one who doesn’t end up with Kyle Lowry’s shoes after the Raptors’ New Year’s Eve road win over the Bulls.
Ouch. The night started well enough for Vale, a Toronto native who decided to travel to Chicago to see his favourite team on New Year’s Eve.
“I went with my girlfriend and we just wanted to go to an American city that we hadn’t been to before. So we decided on Chicago and conveniently enough, the Raptors were playing on New Year’s Eve, so I wasn’t about to miss that.”
Good call, as the Raptors pulled away late to defeat the Bulls 85-79 for a solid road win. The couple had shelled out a little more to sit in the lower bowl near the tunnel on the special night and were even able to high-five a few of the players on their way out.
Lowry was the last to leave the court and Vale kept the shout outs coming.
“I think I yelled at him ‘I came from Toronto and you played a great game, that was awesome,’ just kind of non-nonchalantly,” said Vale. “He turned around and started to untie his shoe and I was thinking ‘is this really happening right now?’”
Unfortunately, someone else clearly understood what was happening and wound up with the equivalent of two “pick sixes” at Soldier Field. But thanks to a little sleuthing on social media, Lowry was told about the incident and decided to make it right before the Raptors game against the Bucks on Monday.
Vale, along with his friend Francis, was invited to take in pregame warmups courtside on Monday. He was then taken to the players lounge for what he thought was an interview about his story, only to have Lowry arrive to personally delivered a pair of his shoes.
“Blown away,” was how Vale described his response to Lowry’s gesture. “We’re in the middle of an interview and then all of a sudden, there’s the starting point guard for the Toronto Raptors.
“I was not expecting that. Absolutely not. I was pretty blown away just to be sitting courtside and watching the shootaround. This is definitely one of the highlights of my being a Raptors fan.”
Not a bad way to start to 2014.