Sports

Toronto Mayor John Tory to city: Actually, my Raptors jacket doesn’t stink

It was easy enough, amid all the hype and excitement, to let certain things slide. There was basketball to watch, after all, a team to follow and love and a title to celebrate for days.

But the basketball season is over now. The parade, but a memory — of sweat and crowds and chugging rosé. The city can’t sleep forever. Some problems never die.

Over all the joy and hangovers of the Toronto Raptors remarkable run, one question always lingered. By last week’s parade, it had become impossible to ignore.

It was out there again, in the sun, on parade day. It had been there all along, at every game and celebration. You couldn’t miss it if you tried.

It was Toronto Mayor John Tory’s jacket. And after all the partying and ever-presence, the people needed to know: Does it stink or what?

The National Post never shies from the difficult questions of public life. It stands, as an institution, for boldness and rigour. So when I, a lowly cog in the Post machine, saw Tory wearing the jacket again during the parade I knew I had to find out.


Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard receives the key to the city on behalf of the Toronto Raptors from mayor John Tory at Toronto city hall Nathan Phillips Square.

ohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

By that point, the jacket had become something of a hallmark for the normally staid Tory. The mayor, after all, is not a man known for flare. (Growing up, he had a cat named “Cat.”) So when he first appeared in what he calls “that garish jacket” in May, citizens were, to say the least, a little surprised.

The jacket is black and covered all over with gold basketballs, each torn along the seams by an invisible dinosaur’s claw. The logos look, to the non-basketball fan, like haunted palm trees. The jacket on the whole gives off an air that might charitably be described as “yacht-rock goth.”

The designer Clarke Douglas gave Tory the jacket at the opening of the George Chuvalo Community Centre on May 11th. It was one of a limited set Douglas’s company, Clarky and Zac, had designed for the Raptors run. They originally retailed for $150. At a fundraiser recently, Tory helped auction one off for $5000.

Tory first started wearing the blazer to Jurassic Park, the massive fan zones outside Scotiabank Arena during Raptors playoff games. On TV it was a hard sight to miss: The bespectacled Tory — a man who ran for mayor against the Ford brothers on a platform that amounted to ‘I know you’re ready for something boring now’ — dressed like he was on his way to a funeral at a Tommy Bahama outlet store.

Tory wore the jacket again, and again, and soon he couldn’t stop wearing it at all. For weeks, no matter where he went, people would ask about it. He’d show up at unrelated funding announcements as boring old Mayor Tory and the crowds would demand Jacket John. “It got to the point where I defaulted to wearing it because it was just easier,” he said.

All through the series against the Milwaukee Bucks and into the finals, Tory wore the blazer to Jurassic Park. Anywhere he went on city or personal business he kept it in his car. He only ever had the one, and he never once had it washed, he said. But he claims that through it all and to the end, it didn’t stink.


Recording artist Drake and Toronto mayor John Tory greet each other in the Jurassic Park fan zone during Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors on June 13, 2019.

REUTERS/Chris Helgren

“I’m not a great perspirer to begin with,” Tory said. “Secondly, there was no hot weather.”

By his calculation, Tory only wore it maybe 20 times for about an hour on each occasion. That’s less work than he puts a normal jacket through in two business days. What’s more, despite all the pandemonium in Jurassic Park, no one ever spilled anything on the jacket: not a beer or a cooler or even a Diet Coke. “Part of the miracle of Jurassic Park was that it was so peaceful,” Tory said. There weren’t even that many fans enjoying what he called “the now-legal smoking materials.”

“I can assure you,” Tory said, “if I thought it smelled or I thought it was dirty I would have sent it to the dry cleaner.” Instead, he waited until the playoff run was over and the parade was done before he finally agreed that it needed a wash. Tory’s spokesman Don Peat said Monday the jacket was due to be sent to the cleaner’s Tuesday.

By that point the jacket had become history, literally. The City of Toronto Archives recently phoned the mayor’s office and asked if he would donate it to the city records. As of Friday, Tory was still mulling that offer over.

Regardless, he plans to hang up the jacket for now. If and when the Raptors make the playoffs again, he’ll take it out and wear it back to Jurassic Park. A warm spring, a long Raptors run or a few more fans of the “now-legal smoking materials” could mean a rougher ride for the jacket next year. If that happens, the National Post will be there, sniffing out municipal news, one jacket at a time.

• Email: rwarnica@nationalpost.com | Twitter: richardwarnica

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