CLAWING && CLIMBING - A TORONTO RAPTORS FRANCHISE
There is only one Canadian basketball team in the National Basketball Association and to all, it is clear why! Since its inception in 1993 as part of the NBAs expansion into Canada have scarcely had any success. The team officially had their first game in the league in 1995, a year after a nationwide contest had been held to decide the name of the NBAs newest team. In the end, the Toronto Raptors had been born. Canadians nationwide were definitely high on the team, merchandise sales, tickets were high up on the league. After Isiah Thomas was elected as the General Manager of the team, big things were expected of the team.
However, the team quickly met drama. After the expansion draft in 1995, the Toronto Raptors received a first pick and drafted Chicago Bulls 3-Point Specialist; B.J. Armstrong. Armstrong wasnt too thrilled to in Canada and failed to show up for some training. This prompted then general manager to trade him over to Golden State for Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander. Following this, they drafted seventh in the Draft for that year and laid claim to Damon Stoudamire, hed end up being the center of focus for this new team. Isiah Thomas had high hopes for the point guard out of the University of Arizona but Canada did not. His draft was met with boos from the Sky Dome in Toronto. They all had wanted the prospect for UCLA, but that would proven to be an even worse pick. But two years later, the young prospect Ed OBannon had retired after a less than stellar career in the NBA! Their first game happened to be against Eds new team, the New Jersey Nets and Damon Stoudamire showed his talents by recording a double with 10 points and 10 assists in the first game, recording a victory along with this. Unfortunately, they did not meet success all season long. Although they were amongst the few teams to have beaten the record breaking 72-10 Chicago Bulls, they ended up with a disappointing 21-61 record. The same season, Damon Stoudamire won the Rookie of the Year award showing signs of being a star.
The second season they drafted young center Marcus Camby second overall pick. They ended up with a better but still terrible record of 30 wins and 52 losses. Stoudamire still had a successful season, averaging close to a double double with 20 points and 8 assists per game. They oddly beat the top teams in the season including the Bulls once more but lost to the weaker ones throughout the season.
Their third season in 1997-98 brought some bad news. The owner sold his interests for the team while Isiah Thomas resigned when he failed at an attempt of buying the team. His resignation prompted star point guard Damon Stoudamire to leave the team. By February of 1998, he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Amongst the ones received from the trade, Anderson acted much like B.J. Armstrong had and found himself traded to Boston Celtics. By the end of the year they had the youngest team in the league and their record payed the price with a 16-66 record. They also had the youngest star in the league in Tracy McGrady who was 18 at the time.
The following season, the Toronto Raptors drafted Power Forward from North Carolina, Antawn Jamison only to trade him with his own former teammate in College and Tracy McGradys cousin, Vince Carter! Furthermore, they traded Marcus Camby for veteran Charles Oakley. Although they failed to make the playoffs once more, the team finally had a future with improved Tracy McGrady and rookie of the year Vince Carter.
1999-2000 proved to be the beginning of their best years. Vince Carter had boldly made a promise to bring the Toronto Raptors to their first playoffs and he did as he promised. The young phenomenon won the NBA Dunk Contest, making many new Canadian Basketball fans in the process. Unfortunately, they found themselves sweep-ed by New York in the first round.
The 2000-2001 still met success once more and the team made the playoff once more. They made several trades around the league that year, with stars such as Jerome & Alvin Williams shining through with the team. Unfortunately, cousins Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter had a conflict in spotlight and in positions, they could no longer play for the same teams. The team still solidified their spot in the playoffs, and beat New York this time around getting revenge for last year. This happened to be their best season and post season ever. Unfortunately it ended in a tearful moment when Vince Carter missed the game winning shot that wouldve propelled them over the 76ers team, Philadelphia. Tracy McGrady was then signed back in the off-season and traded.
In 2001-2002, Toronto Raptors were left as the only Canadian NBA team when Vancouver Grizzlies relocated. Going into the All-Star Break they met success but when Vince Carter received an injury stopping him from playing for the rest of the season and missing the All-Star game, things went downhill. They lost most of their games but in a season ending victory, they managed to make the playoffs. However, in another tearful post-season ending, Chris Childs attempted to grab the spotlight for himself and missed a three point. He was widely criticized for not passing the ball to the open Dell Curry but the guard repeateadly made up excuses. Chris wouldnt play another game for the Toronto Raptors.
This had been the end of their greatest years, the next season proved to be a horrible one with Hall Of Fame coach, Lenny Wilkens being fired for his care-free attitude. Furthermore, injuries plagued the team and they ended the season with a 24-58 record.
Luckily, the Toronto Raptors earned a 4th Overall Draft Pick and gained their face for six consecutive years, Chris Bosh. The season was still terrible however, still plagued with injuries on their star players. The raptors ended with a better record but still missed the playoffs that year with a record of 33-49! This also caused hte firing of General Manager, Glen Grunwald. Along with this firing went Kevin ONeil who was also a disappointment. Sam Mitchell replaced Kevin ONeil while Rob Babcock replaced Glen Grunwald.
The team moved divisions this season while Robs first moves as GM was widely criticized for drafting Rafael Araujo. This off-season, Vince Carter also a demanded a trade, displeased with the current state of the team. He was traded to New Jersey Nets and garnered world wide criticism for stating that the past few seasons he had not given it his all. They received the B.J. Armstrong treatment again when Alonzo Mouning didnt report for the training sessions and was eventually bought out of his contract. They ended up with no progress whatsoever, culminating the season with a 33-49 record once more.
The rebuilding continued with another controversial draft pick in Charlie Villanueva. Early on they received much cristicism for their horrible 1-15 start. And eventually were the victims of a vicious points assault by Kobe Bryant who set a record of 81 points second only to the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. The season finished with a 27-55 record and Bob Babcock also met the end of his tenure with the Toronto Raptors, only to be replaced by Brian Colangelo.
Brian Colangelo surprisingly started well with the team, giving them a successful record of 47 and 35. Chris Bosh shined as well posting career seasons in points per game and rebounds per game. Both Colangelo and Sam Mitchell were awarded that season with Executive of the year and Coach of the Year respectively. They met the New Jersey Nets along with rival Vince Carter that series... and it ended with Vince Carter putting his former team to sleep in a 4-2 series.
Fans were expecting a successful season in 2007-08, fans had too high expectations of course. Injuries plagued the Toronto Raptors once more as they sought to make changes in order to help the team. They failed to defend their Division Champions title, losing it to eventual finals winner, Boston Celtics. They made the playoffs only to lose to the Orlando Magics juggernaut, Dwight Howard. In the end, the season was regarded as a disappointment more than anything and once more, changes were to be made for the team.
The Toronto Raptors made changes once more, acquiring Jermaine ONeal for several stars such as TJ Ford who had been replaced with Jose Calderon. They also turned a new leaf with a new Black jersey. However, early on in the season, Sam Mitchell had not met the expectations and found himself fired from the team replaced by long time assistant and first Canadian Head Coach, Jay Triano. Changes were made once and more Jermaine ONeal along with Jamario Moon were traded for Banks and Shawn Marion. They did not make the playoffs this season. They eventually went back to their old record of 33-49. Triano was rewarded however with a three year contract.
The 2009-2010 met another shake-up in the roster. Reggie Evans, DeMar Derozan, Hedo Turkoglu were all brought in to the team. Raptors made several other changes bringing in stars like Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems, Jarrett Jack and such. They had a chance to make the playoffs but many claimed Chris Bosh gave up near the end, furthermore he met an injury and this caused the Raptors to miss the playoffs, ending another era for the Toronto Raptors.
In a controversial story, Bosh and Lebron James left their respective teams to join Dwayne Wade in the Miami Heat. Hedo Turkoglu left the team as well to join the Phoenix Suns only to be sent to the Orlando Magic the same off-season. Jarrett Jack was also traded to the New Orleans for potential packed point guard, Jared Bayless. Furthermore, Brian Colangelo was relieved of his job as General Manager of the Toronto Raptors only to sign Toronto Raptors fanatic, Jonathan Tshinanu. The young general manager is relatively unknown but promises to consistently bring progress for the team. Its back to the drawing boards for the Toronto Raptors as they figure out a way to bring success back to the North of the Border.
TheReal2KInsider (February Update)
All-Star (It'll Slowly Go Up As I Get Used To The Team)
* Credit to KomicJ for the look