Syracuse, N.Y. ― The trick shots into a pool-side basketball goal began as a joke.
When the NBA decided to fill the sports void created by the coronavirus pandemic with a H-O-R-S-E competition, the folks at Canada’s TSN thought it would be fun to have some of their on-air talent perform some trick shots.
They toss wadded up balls of paper into trash-cans or a rolled up sock into a clothes hamper.
But Leo Rautins took it to another level. Rautins, the former Syracuse University basketball star and current analyst for Toronto Raptors’ television broadcasts, used a goal in his backyard pool at his home in South Florida for a trick shot.
“I did that and I was talking a lot of trash and people got a kick out of that,” Rautins said.
Fans wanted to see more of Rautins’ repertoire, so he began posting a daily video on his Twitter page. The videos always appear at 5 p.m. They feature a trick shot followed by Rautins offering some words of encouragement as he pours a glass of wine.
The videos, which Rautins has labeled with the hashtag #Twineandwine, remain very popular with thousands of views each day.
“People are struggling,” Rautins said. “People have got a lot of things on their minds. They’re worried, they’re stressing, they’re feeling insecure and sports isn’t around. Sports offers a release, a distraction and escape or whatever you want to call it, but right now there aren’t any sports going on.
“It seemed like the right time to do something like this and give people a little distraction.”
The shots stand out as much for Rautins’ creativity in thinking up the shots as his ability to actually make them.
He has made shots from in and out of the water. He has kicked a basketball across the pool and into the goal. In one video, he stands with his back to the basket and kicks the ball back into the hoop. Recently, he let the ball roll off the roof of his house, bumped it like a volleyball over his head and into the basket.
“I was going to bump it to myself and then set it into the basket,” Rautins said. “The roof has some funny rolls. I told Sammy to keep the camera rolling and if it came off weird I was just going to bump it.
“I tried and it went back off the roof again. I turned around and with my back to the basket, I bumped it again and it went in the basket.
“We had two options and that was option three,” he said. “I just burst out laughing.”
Creatively, Rautins has lots of shots in his head. Physically, though, he is limited in what he can do. He underwent major back surgery during the NBA’s All-Star break and is still recovering.
“I can’t go flying through the air and diving into the pool,” Rautins said. “People tell me ‘Go on the roof.’ There’s no way in the world I’m doing that.”
Rautins said he’s looking into ways to turn the popular video series and the catch-phrase “Twine and wine” into a charitable effort.
“We’re having fun and people seem to like it,” he said. “I have people telling me ‘I can’t wait until 5 o’clock.’’
In a recent video, his son, Sammy, flipped a life-saver buoy into the air. Leo then shot the ball through the ring and into the basket. It was a rare on-camera appearance for Sammy, who has served as Leo’s cameraman for most of the shots.
But Leo hinted that Sammy will be on camera again soon.
“Wait until Friday,” Leo said. “Sammy will have the ultimate shot.”
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