Behind the scenes with Tristan Thompson atop the CN Tower and his new friend, “Larry”

Tristan Thompson explains to Donnovan Bennett what it means to come back to Toronto as a NBA champion as he brings the Larry O'Brien trophy to the CN Tower.

Tristan Thompson – Trophy atop the Tower

It didn’t take long. As soon as we set up shop in Toronto’s Horizons restaurant, the onlookers started to flock. If you do a 360 all you can see is unobstructed horizon. But all everybody wants to see is Brampton, ON’s Tristan Thompson and the Larry O’Brien trophy. Fresh off a championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thompson is using the trophy as a promotional vehicle on a press circuit to promote his yearly fundraiser for his charity, the Amari Thompson Fund, in conjunction with Epilepsy Toronto. The auction and mixer raises funds and awareness for the condition that his younger brother Amari and his family, like one and 100 other families in Canada, deals with.

But first, the Brampton, ON native is taking the O’Brien trophy for a personal stroll. Why? Why not? When you got it, flaunt it.

“I’m way up, I feel blessed” Thompson hums to himself here atop the CN Tower, using Big Sean’s verse slightly out of context.

He bends his 6’10 frame position himself for a photo in the reflection of the trophy, lit by the sun beaming through a floor to ceiling window nearby.

As we take a seat for a 25 minute convo that spans from Toronto traffic to Drake’s beef with Meek Mill (You did this to yourself boy,,Thompson recites doing his best Aubrey Graham impression), paid entrants have made Thompson part of the tour. A buzz starts to build and the fan flames are fanned. One group selfie, another Snapchat story, each person who comes by is a force multiplier for added attention. Being a prop to be later filtered and shared can be dehumanizing; spending time with Thompson you soon realize being famous isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

But what is endearing is the appreciation. When he enters a section of the floor and gets cheers it’s heartwarming. “Way to go Tristan!” “Do it again for Canada.” “We’ve been following you since Texas. Keep it up buddy!”

There is shared appreciation from the people he interacts with. “We the North” didn’t prevail last season, but to have a local kid bring the trophy home suddenly feels like the next best thing.

“I’m not afraid of heights,” he says while laying down on a plexiglass floor that looks down from the top of the tower to the ground more than 450 metres below, “but I’m not about unnecessary risks.”

As we ride down the elevator from the top to the bottom of the tower, the hip-hop encyclopedia that is Thompson has a question for the CN Tower staff: “Isn’t this where Drake filmed the video?”, referring the hit song “Headlines”. “How many times did he have to go up and down to do the video?” The staffer explains that Drake had the elevator put on service for the shoot. “Well there isn’t a day that the CN tower isn’t busy,” Thompson deduces, “so basically, he shut down the CN Tower?! Next time, I bring a championship home I think they should let me shut down the CN Tower.” Given the crowd of onlookers that Thompson wound up shepherding around during this visit they might have to.

As Thompson departs he’s faced with his first real challenge while chaperoning his new friend he lovingly refers to as “Larry”. How do you get him through the swinging security turnstile? These are champagne problems, this tourist attraction is one of the modern wonders of the world, but wasn’t built for this type of attraction. Thompson never imagined this was his destiny, but as he’s gone through this journey from Brampton to the NBA and now back home again, he remains the same as he ever was.

“This will always be my home,” he says, “and I’ve always felt like a champion. Not that much has changed.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.