The List: 10 things John Bitove can’t live without
John Bitove, the sports nut and satellite radio mega-mogul, is merging Sirius Canada and XM Canada. Here, 10 things he can’t live without
Thinking of summer, and my Yamaha jet boat, helps me get through the winter. We wait nine months of the year for those precious three months in cottage country, when my kids and I spend all day boating around Georgian Bay, waterskiing and wakeboarding.
My game ball
I have the basketball from opening tip-off of the Raptors’ very first game, in 1995. I founded the franchise because basketball is my true passion. I played all through high school. I still go to a lot of games; my favourite player is Andrea Bargnani.
My treasured photograph
This is an old photo of my daughter Blair’s soccer team, from when she was about six, posing with our dog, a Samoyed named Pasha. I was the head coach. Blair is 17 now—this photo reminds me of how fast life moves.
My man cave
My TV room has five TVs, including one with a 60-inch screen, and I have a specially designed master remote to control it all. I had it programmed so that the screens say “Bitove Sports Lounge.” On weekends, I invite my friends over, and it’s non-stop sports from around the world.
My father-son sports memento
I kept the ticket stub from one of my son Brett’s first basketball games as a guard for the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons. It was an exciting time: they were 13-0 and ranked number one in the NCAA.
My Burton snowboard
I love to snowboard with my eldest son, JJ. We have a chalet in Collingwood, and we go to Whistler at least once a year. We challenge each other all day, racing and doing jumps and rails.
My biggest get
My satellite radio licence from the CRTC is a reminder of what you can achieve by being persistent. It was a long, three-year process to get licensed in Canada, and people said it would never happen. I have it framed on the wall of my office in Brookfield Place.
My hip-hop fix
I used to laugh at my kids for listening to rap, but I guess they just conditioned me—now I love it and listen to it in the car all the time. I like T.I., Drake and Lil’ Wayne. People think Lil’ Wayne is a short little thug, but he is actually a brilliant musician, and a brilliant businessman.
My present from Putin
President Putin gave me and my wife, Randi, a porcelain vase when we were in Moscow, the day before the vote on Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. I was chair of the bid, and even though we lost, we set the table for Vancouver to win two years later. I keep it in my home office on a shelf with a bunch of Olympic memorabilia.
My guilty pleasure
I’ve always loved fast food—I’m addicted. It got me through university and law school, and it’s why I got into the KFC franchise business in 1999. Now I have 80 KFCs in Toronto and 430 across Canada. When KFC was selling the Double Down last November, I ate two a week.