Bleacher Report Page 1 of 7
Not really sure how to sum up the fifteen year-old Toronto Raptors. By the numbers, this is a totally unremarkable franchise- just five seasons with a record of .500 or better, never eclipsed 47 wins (done twice) and five postseason appearances (11-20 playoff record). But this organization deserves to be thought of as more. More appropriately, its fans, some of the NBA’s best, deserve more. This is a group that’s seen Isiah Thomas actually make GOOD choices GM (in the draft, at least), Vince Carter (when he gave a crap) create some of the greatest highlights we’ve ever seen, Tracy McGrady show glimpses of his potential, the end of Hakeem Olajuwon’s career, Vince Carter (when he didn’t give a crap) egregiously urinate on his home fan base, and Chris Bosh telegraph his intentions to blow town- and not get killed for it.
This fan base was on the right side of VC’s other-worldly 2000 dunk contest performance and on the wrong side of Allen Iverson’s 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Kobe’s 81 and “Hedo Turkoglu: Free Agent”. In the most complimentary way possible, it’s tough to find a team that’s accomplished less but meant more to the NBA in the past decade and a half.
Page 2 of 7
The Raptors’ first-ever draft pick, Stoudamire made an immediate impact in Toronto. After averaging 19 ppg and 9.3 apg, along with 4 boards per game (not bad for 5’10”) in his 1995-96 Rookie of the Year campaign, Stoudamire produced an equally fantastic sophomore season, putting up 20 ppg, 8.8 apg and 4.1 rpg. Despite his great production, he was the centerpiece of a trade that landed him with his hometown Portland Trailblazers midway through his third season. This deal should be fondly remembered as the epitome of “selling high”, although the package Raptors received in exchange for Stoudamire (Kenny Anderson, Alvin Williams, Gary Trent and a pair of forgettable #1s) didn’t quite set the world on fire. While he put up some impressive stats, it should be noted, however, that he shot 41.5% from the field, although this was likely a function of playing NBA at 5’10”.
On the wings of his brief, good-but-not-great run in Toronto, Stoudamire remains the PG standard for the Raptors. Jose Calderon has shown flashes (10 ppg, 6.7 apg in 291 games; 12- 8.6 over the past two seasons), but has yet to consistently put up big numbers or contribute to a winner. He’s mounting a challenge to Stoudamire’s status as the Raps #1 all-time PG, but needs to put up another couple of solid seasons