Guy MacPherson and your author after a great day of strumming this past November. (Photo courtesy MacPherson family 2024. All Rights Reserved)
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Guy MacPherson (1962-2024) To my basketball-writing brother: I’ll miss you at the B.C.’s this week… but I know you will be watching!

VANCOUVER — “Hey Howard, I’ve got someone you have to meet” my friend, the former Victoria Times-Colonist basketball writer Jeff Rud said, finding me in my customary position, slumped over my laptop while transcribing an interview during one of the frequent media gatherings called by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the run-up to their first season in the NBA.

I’ve tried, but I can’t remember the specific occasion which had brought us both to the media room or some other part of a shiny, new GM Place on that day back in 1995.

But I still remember Jeff’s introduction. 

“Howard, this is Guy… Guy, this is Howard… you are going to be great friends,” he said, confident in his prediction.

So this new Guy and I spent a few moments chatting, and as our meetings became more and more frequent leading up to the start of the team’s expansion campaign, I soon told myself that I had found my basketball brother.

It’s so hard to fully explain just what that means.

Yet I can honestly say that over these last 30 years, in a friendship that I almost let lapse due to the neglect which comes with short-sightedness of career ambition, there was always the game we both loved, there like a loyal friend to give us back our instant karma.

It was just like that on a lazy Sunday afternoon two summers ago, when Guy phoned to bring me up to date on his latest travails as a first-time authour as he worked to complete a book on the story of his late father, the brilliant jazz saxophonist Fraser MacPherson.

It was somewhere near the end of that phone call, one in which we debated writer’s stuff like copyright laws and attribution style, that without any change in vocal inflection, he told me that he had cancer.

He said it so matter-of-factly that I didn’t just lose my words, I ceased to understand what words even were.

Guy passed away on Jan. 31 at the age of 61, but before he did, he asked his wife Liz to tell everyone to say that he did not lose his battle with cancer… that it was instead a tie.

Guy MacPherson dons the headphones in studio with friend Jack Showers during their younger days working in the campus radio station at the University of Victoria. (Photo courtesy Jack Showers)

“And that’s because it was a Norm Macdonald joke,” explained Guy’s childhood friend Jack Showers of a routine the late SNL comedian once performed. “And Guy really agreed with that sentiment. People always say that someone has lost their battle with cancer. Norm said that you don’t lose the battle because when you die, the cancer dies with you. So it’s really a tie.”

And when Liz and their son Louis held a celebration of life in his honour two Friday’s ago, the outpouring of affection from family and friends was river deep and mountain high… enough to fill the main ballroom at UBC’s University Golf Club to its full capacity.

In a way, it was kind of like Guy’s hospital room in palliative care at Vancouver General was over the last few weeks of his life.

And yet for as much as I knew that he possessed a muse-like force to enrich the local scenes of three very distinctly separate communities — basketball, jazz and comedy — through his writings, his voice and most of all his wit and wisdom, it wasn’t until he was eulogized by a most disparate a group of admirers that it became apparent just how much greater his whole was than the sum of his nonetheless substantial parts.

Think about it.

Former Victoria Vikes and Canadian national team head coach Ken Shields, someone who you’d have to save a spot for if they ever decided to chisel the fathers of Canadian men’s basketball coaches on some new version of Mt Rushmore, took to the podium to reflect on the respect and admiration he built with Guy during his time as the Vikes radio play-by-play broadcaster in the 1980s.

“Guy was a principled guy,” Shields began. “He was understated, he was always calm and never full of himself in any way. He was happy in his own skin, not trying to be somebody else. Very happy with who he was.

Visiting with the legendary Ken Shields at CARSA gym at the University of Victoria was one of Guy MacPherson’s usual stops every time he returned to visit friends and family in the capital city. (Photo courtesy MacPherson family)

“And in being so understated, he was able to develop trusting relationships with people. He was able to disarm people and it was a pleasure to chat with him. He was strong-willed and spoke his mind, but always in a non-confrontational way. He had a rare talent.”

Graham Clark, a local comedian, reflected on the responsibility Guy felt as a caretaker for the entire Vancouver comedy community through his writings in The Georgia Straight, and on his pioneering show What’s So Funny? which enjoyed an extended run on Vancouver Co-Op Radio. So much of what he so lovingly created exists today from his writings at The Straight to his What’s So Funny podcasts, all at

“He was the person who gave me my first-ever piece of press,” said Clark. “Talking to him and meeting him made me feel legitimate. As a comedian, there’s not a whole lot of signposts as you go along that mean ‘You’re doing it and you’re doing it right’, but him being a fan of mine was such a big deal to me, and in turn that made me a fan of him.”

And between the eulogies there was live jazz, that day a trio with saxophone, bass and guitar.

I don’t think there was ever a time when the two of us would meet for our regular walks through Vancouver’s Everett Crowley Park without talking about jazz.

Guy was the pianist/sportswriter who would explain to me, the novice but willing guitarist, why a C9 chord was a C9 chord.

And myself, the former record-store owning, vinyl-addicted sportswriter, would tell him why Oliver Gannon was one of my favourite all-time guitarists.

Of course it became pretty obvious over the years that I would never meet anyone who not only knew as many people from so many different walks of life as Guy, but who actively kept in regular touch with literally all of them.

Guy MacPherson got his love of jazz from his late father, the legendary Canadian saxophonist Fraser MacPherson. (Photo courtesy MacPherson family)

“I was just talking to Oliver the other day,” Guy would respond matter-of-factly, of course knowing him well because he was the guitarist in every major incarnation of his dad’s jazz groupings, including on the classic 1975 recording Live at the Planetarium.

And so, of course, at Guy’s own memorial, there was Gannon as a part of the trio, still as smooth, tasteful and economical as ever whether comping or stepping out.

Of course, all of it was for Guy, but I selfishly convinced myself that the two songs the trio played were for the two of us!

On our walks Guy would tell me the entire history behind the recording of ‘Planetarium’, before we’d traverse smoothly to hoops and reminisce about stuff like the coach bus ride that the two of us, along with Jeff Rud, Steve Frost and others took to Portland to watch the Grizzlies and Benoit Benjamin beat the Trail Blazers in the first regular-season game in franchise history back in the fall of 1995. 

Before his passing in late January, two advance copies of Guy’s completed book on his dad, entitled ‘Fraser MacPherson: I Don’t Have To Go Anywhere… I’m Already Here’ sat with him in his hospital room at VGH.

On Dec. 14, Guy had sent me a picture of the cover with such pride.. he knew at that moment that his project was going to see the light of day… under two weeks later he was admitted to VGH.

He would never self-promote the poignancy of the moment, about how his dream to get the project across the finish line had been won within the painful final few months of his life, yet all you had to do was ask him about it, and then wait for that semi-extended pause he would always seem to take when he was being asked to answer from the heart.   

And now comes the news that on April 16, some two-and-a-half months after his passing, that the book will gain its official release into the world, giving a son the ultimate honour of celebrating the life of his own father.

A treasure trove of Victoria sports history was discovered recently of vintage Victoria Vikes basketball broadcasts by Jack Showers, who served largely as the analyst for the play-by-play of  the late Guy MacPherson. (Photo courtesy Jack Showers)


The message arrived by direct message via Twitter.

It’s Jack Showers with the words “…Good news. Found them. Several games. Now I need to find someone with a cassette player.”

The photo posted here, to all of us of a certain vintage and persuasion, is like balm for the heart.

Cassette tapes of old Victoria Vikes’ basketball broadcasts of Guy and Jack from their UVic student radio days at the campus station CFUV 105.1 FM.

A 1987 Victoria-Times Colonist article on Guy MacPherson notes how the former UVic Vikes play-by-play man was such a basketball nut that in his younger days, he’d watch scrambled basketball games on TSN. In the story he is called ‘A 25-year-old novice who confounded the skeptics’. (Property Victoria Times-Colonist. All Rights Reserved)

In the week or so since, Jack has digitized several clips and kindly offered them to be included here today as a tribute to his friend.

“It had been a childhood dream of mine to be a play-by-play announcer, so when we did the auditions for it and Guy got it, I knew he was better than me, I could tell,” Showers said in reflection of the pair’s salad days of the mid- 1980s. “So I was pretty happy to get the second banana job (as analyst). We had good chemistry because we were friends.”

In sampling some of the clips, you are transported instantly to what was a truly golden era of Canada West men’s basketball.

In one, we’re all back in the mid-1980’s Victoria-UBC rivalry game where Guy is painting great pictures on radio with Showers.

And as he references names like Wade Loukes, Mike Clarke, Kevin Hanson, Al Lalonde, Aaron Point, Paul Johansson, Lloyd Scrubb Spencer McKay and Vito Pasquale, he is letting us know not only about an incredible collection of talent, but of future coaches and future fathers of standout players who have taken their own careers through the high school and university programs in this country.

There’s also a pre-game interview with then-UBC head coach Bruce Enns — aired Feb. 27, 1987 with Guy and Jack in Vancouver for the start of the best-of-three Canada West championship final which the ‘Birds would win in two straight.

Listen to it here and you get the true essence of Guy. He makes it about the interviewee. He listens to Enns’ responses. The questions are not slo-pitch lobs, but ones which inform his knowledge of the dynamics of the visiting team while remaining respectful, and at the same time bringing out all the qualities which made Enns such a magnetic personality in his coaching days.

“He loved the game, there was no doubt about it,” Shields said in the days before he was to speak at Guy’s Celebration of Life. 

“I was disappointed that I never got to listen to him doing games because I was too busy coaching and he’s doing the live broadcast. In those days, you would have had to have gotten an audio tape, and you are just so consumed with your team that I never did. But if someone had any tapes of his games, I would just love to listen to one.”

It’s good to know that Shields and Showers have no doubt connected over the contents of the latter’s incredible find and that Guy’s place in the capital city’s sports history can be preserved.

During Guy’s frequent trips back to Victoria over the final two years of life, he would always tell me how much he enjoyed sitting with coach Shields in the Vikes’ CARSA gymnasium.

He’d also give his latest, in-depth takes on his high school alma mater, the Oak Bay Bays.

While Guy (Class of 1980) and Showers (Class of 1981) never played on actual Bays teams, they became the team’s most loyal fans, following the seasons via the team’s schedule, attending games in person when they could, and keeping each other informed whenever one was at a game that the other was not.

“When the Bays went on the road, he’d give me updates,” said Showers, “and when the Bays played at home, I’d give him updates and it was Bays score always first. We might say ‘There’s four minutes left in the first quarter and it’s 17-13.’ Which ever number was first was always the Bays.”

Oak Bay coach, school alum and former Victoria Vike Graham Taylor was longtime friends with Guy MacPherson, who before his passing, advised Taylor to keep his son Heath, a current starter at Oak Bay, as the team’s starting point guard. (Photo courtesy Graham Taylor)


On Wednesday, a four-day run of the most magical moments on the annual provincial hoops calendar tips off as the B.C. senior boys basketball championships invades the Langley Events Centre.

Over the years it became clear that Guy’s love for the Bays seemingly had no limits, and the same could be said for his close friend Graham Taylor, two years his junior, a former Vike, and currently the lead assistant on the 2023-24 Oak Bay team which heads into Wednesday’s Quad-A championship as the No. 1 overall seed.

Guy’s connection with Taylor can be traced right back to the latter’s 1981-82 senior season with the Bays when Guy, Showers, Taylor and a few others would grind it out in pick-up games on the school’s asphalt courts.

“We’d play four-on-four for hours,” said Showers, “and we always said later that it was the Bays teams that we saw playing on the black-top that tended to do well at the provincials. I remember that team came fourth that year.”

Taylor stayed connected with Guy over the years, and he explains that the depth of their bond grew even greater as both shared with each other the trials, tribulations and joy that comes with fatherhood.

“Louis was developing in the game,” Taylor said of Guy’s son who would go on to star for the Killarney Cougars. “We would connect and he would ask me for ideas and tips, and likewise the last few years with my son Heath playing for Oak Bay.”

Taylor himself played at the top levels of Canadian university basketball towards the end of the Vikes dynasty, beginning his career at McKinnon Gym in 1983.

Guy was what Shields referred to as a ‘rat-baller’, someone who constantly played the sport, but who did not come through the more traditional delivery system of high school and university teams.

Yet as far as Taylor was concerned, he and Guy were able to converse about the game on the same level.

“We talked after almost every game and he would give me insight,” explained Taylor, who in December lost his father Gary Taylor, the former legendary coach of the Bays. “He had a natural ability to understand the game of basketball, to take a lesson from one game and move it forward into the next game… he just had that ability.”

Taylor’s best example of that hits very close to home.

“He could watch a player or a few players over a few games and understand their style and give feedback into where they were best suited on the team, and I can give you an example with my son Heath,” he said of the senior who will help lead Oak Bay into Wednesday’s Day 1 Sweet 16 finale at the LEC as the No. 1 seeds face the No. 16 Mt. Baker Wild of Cranbrook in a 7:45 p.m. tip-off.  

“When Heath was in Grade 8 or 9, Guy would watch him play either in person or on video, and he said he is a natural point guard. Don’t have him at shooting guard. He has a natural ability of making others better players first, and that would make your team better. And it’s true. He noticed that early and it has turned out to be true because that is how he plays.”

Guy MacPherson loved watching the Vancouver Bandits and one of its top players Diego Maffia.In fact he saw almost every home game this past season at the LEC. He is pictured here with his wife Liz, son Louis (far right) and family friend Mitchell Klassen, a Vikes’ harrier. (Photo courtesy MacPherson family)


Diego Maffia.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him?

Canada’s best university men’s basketball player (in the minds of so many, including both Guy and I) leads his Victoria Vikes into the U Sports Final 8 national championships this Friday (3 p.m.) in the team’s opener against the Rouge et Or of Laval.

In the past two weeks in which I have stolen moments in and around the B.C. junior boys and senior girls championships to write about what Guy meant to me, I have come to realize that it is no stretch at all to talk about Diego Maffia in the same breath as we are soon going to be talking about Oscar Peterson, Canada’s greatest jazz export ever.

So stay with me because I first want you to read a part of an e-mail string between Guy and myself one day last June.

I know he won’t mind me sharing… and what a writer he was, especially when it came to describing his appreciation for the things he found the most beautiful in life.

One day on our morning walk, I made the comment that I sometimes found Oscar Peterson’s piano playing to be a little crowded and note heavy.

Guy loved Oscar as much as a hearty debate, and so many times if we were at lagerheads on a topic, I knew that in the half hour or so it took me to drive back home to North Delta from our walk, that I could expect a text or e-mail with a well-crafted response that no amount of my persuasion was ever going to be able to match and that’s because what he said and what he wrote was always full of conviction… always so utterly convincing.

That day he sent me this:

“I’m sitting here listening to that album ‘Tracks’ by Oscar Peterson (it’s on YouTube) and just marvelling at it. It’s really a masterclass on piano playing. It got me thinking that Oscar is like a whole symphony. Or a symphonic soloist. Either one. Just as you wouldn’t expect a symphony or a symphonic soloist to be all one style (fewer notes), I don’t expect jazz piano players to be that way. In a symphony, there are quiet moments, bombastic moments, periods of calm and few notes, periods of bravura and lots of notes. Oscar does all that. If you have the time or inclination, check out ‘Tracks’ and see what you think. Yes, he does provide his skill and technique at times, but it’s also much more than that.

As disparate as the two would seem to be, re-reading that passage over the past few weeks somehow made a basketball connection with me.

And here’s why.

When I asked another of Guy’s friends for her memories of him, I was treated to a wonderful story of how the two first connected through watching the game, and how their favourite moments both centred around its more abstract and intangible qualities.

“The first time I met Guy was at your tournament when Diego was in Grade 10,” explains Wendy Draper, who was at the Langley Events Centre on a December day back in 2016 with all of the other parents and supporters of the Oak Bay Bays boys team which was competing in my annual TBI tournament.

The Diego she references is none other than her son, Diego Maffia.

“At the time I was doing stats, and did them old school, in a notebook,” Draper continues. “I was sitting with some other moms, Oak Bay was was playing and this guy was sitting behind me. At half-time he tapped me on the shoulder, and he said ‘Hey who are you doing stats for?’ and I said ‘Oak Bay.’ Then we started chatting and he told me he was an Oak Bay alum.

“He came to every game (when the Bays were in the Vancouver area or when he was visiting friends back in Victoria) and looked for me. We added each other on Facebook and he really became a big Diego fan and he became such a good friend.”

In his final high school game, Oak Bay’s Diego Maffia scored a team-high 22 points and earned MVP honours as the Quad A team beat the Triple A team 107-100 in the featured B.C. boys high school all-star game at Semiahmoo Secondary in Surrey. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of 2019. All Rights Reserved)

I can honestly say there is no single player Guy and I talked about more than Diego Maffia, who in his senior year with the Bays set the B.C. boys single-game scoring record when he poured home 94 points in a 114-88 win over Edmonton’s Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds.

In Guy’s world, there was really no difference in trying to explain how Oscar Peterson “…is like a whole symphony. Or a symphonic soloist,” and how Maffia, in his own way on the basketball court could somehow be this amazing soloist with a ball in his hands, yet still keep the entire Vikes’ orchestra thundering together in perfect harmony.

And then there were the fun and funny parts of Guy, where his dry wit and sarcasm never failed to inspire debate.

“The stats thing was something that we just bonded over… our love for the assist and our frustration when statisticians missed them,” Draper continued.

One game in particular stood out from this recently-concluded Canada West regular season and I’ve left out the opposition school because it’s not important to the story.

“Guy texted me and and he said they totally screwed up the stats. Diego should have this many points, Eli (teammate Elias Ralph) should have this many, and blah blah blah. He said they should correct it, so I told him he should get in touch with someone from the Canada West. And so he did and you know what? They changed the stats. And that is my last stats story of ours.”

Louis MacPherson going through a training session under the watchful eye of family friend and Vikes’ star Diego Maffia in Victoria. (Photo courtesy Wendy Draper)

That in turn led to a friendship Guy and Diego.

A few years ago, when Louis MacPherson was getting serious about the game, Diego gave him a private one-on-one skills session when he came to Victoria.

Over the summer, when Maffia was living in Langley opening eyes with his great play for the Vancouver Bandits pro team which plays its games out of the LEC, Guy decided to call Maffia up and tell him he was taking him out for a meal… and to talk hoops.

Just days after his passing, after the Vikes finished off a weekend sweep of the Brandon Bobcats at home on CARSA’s Ken and Kathy Shields Court, Maffia’s words to longtime Victoria Times Colonist sports guru Cleve Dheensaw got right to the point: “This week was all for Guy MacPherson. We battled hard this weekend thinking of Guy.”

On Wednesday, Jack Showers will be at the LEC for provincials, and for the first time he and Guy won’t be able to go from gym to gym watching games the way they have for decades.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Showers, who actually met Guy when he was three and Guy was four and they lived across the street from each other in the Willows neighbourhood of Oak Bay.

Jack will watch the Bays, that much is for sure, and he’ll smile every time he thinks of how much this venerable tournament, like it does for so many others, keeps people connected forever.

My last day with Guy was one of the best days of my life. Rest in peace my friend.


On the last day I visited Guy at his home, the high school basketball season was just starting and I was starting to get busy in my semi-retirement tending to preparations for the TBI basketball in early December at the LEC.

Guy’s cancer had returned and for the first time, he said he was too tired to walk.

So instead, for the first time ever, I brought my acoustic guitar over, and he pulled out the ukulele Liz had bought for him as a gift.

We had the house to ourselves that morning and before you know it, we were doing a pretty fair impersonation of a 1960s and ‘70s jukebox, strumming and singing to our hearts’ content.

That day we played Alison, The Most Beautiful Girl, some B.J. Thomas, Year of the Cat and maybe 40 or 50 more. And we loved it every time we got to our absolute favourite… there was something about the plethora of minor and major seven chords that made every part of song we attempted from the Bacharach songbook an absolute blast.

It must have been over three hours later that we finally stopped.

We had so much fun and before I left, Guy took our picture together on the back patio.

And as I was leaving he told me that “it felt so good, that’s the best day I’ve had in a while.”

That meant the world to me and I couldn’t wait to do it again.

But we never got the chance.

I’m listening to Oscar on ‘Tracks’ right now, knowing that I have to stop writing pretty soon, and finally starting to realize why I’ve had so much trouble finishing this tribute.

Deep down I’ve felt like if I just keep writing, which is something Guy and I shared from the day that Jeff Rud introduced us, that somehow everything would go back to the way it always was.

I know it won’t.

But in our own way, we still do kind of check in with each other a lot.

I know you’re pretty busy watching your Bays and your Vikes this week my friend.

And I miss you Guy. We all do.


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4 thoughts on “Guy MacPherson (1962-2024) To my basketball-writing brother: I’ll miss you at the B.C.’s this week… but I know you will be watching!

  1. Howard, I think this is one of the best pieces you have ever done! Very personal and filled with emotion that you seldom share with the public. What a tribute! Guy reached out to me a couple of years ago asking for a password so he could access the BCHSBBA website and report the game scores and team stats for Killarney Secondary who his son Louis was playing for. Without fail the game score and meticulously done stats were posted on the website within hours of the completion of the game. Now I understand.

  2. Beautiful article Howard. You paint a great portrait of a very great human being. We miss you Guy!

  3. Howard, I have been a longtime admirer of the consitent high quality of your writing. With this tribute you have truly exposed the quality of your heart. Now my admiration has moved toa higher plane.

  4. Great article Howard I really enjoyed this one, from the heart for sure. You should check out a great book by David Thorpe called “Basketball is Jazz” I think you would really like it.

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