This upcoming 2013-2014 season is sure to be a memorable one for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are heading into their 19th season in the NBA. Nostalgia never hurt anyone, so what better way to celebrate a relatively unsuccessful franchise than by reminiscing on the past? This top 10 list isn’t about the “what ifs” in Toronto Raptors history. This list focuses on the what-have-you-done for Toronto Raptors history. Additionally, we made coaches and GM’s eligible to spice things up.
Some things that were taken into consideration for this list were duration with the team, performance and their impact on the franchise. Hopefully there’s’ no hard feelings in regards to those left off the list, because having to leave any credible Raptor out is a heart-wrenching task.
Oak missed the cut, but he was still an important figure in Raptors history. He came to the Raptors past his prime, but large in part served as Vince’s bodyguard. Oakley’s storied career brought a championship pedigree and veteran leadership to a young team.
A player who was often overlooked, Doug Christie was the best perimeter defender in Raptors history. He had his best seasons statistically as a professional while with Toronto, he is also the franchise leader in steals.
Not the most skilled player in franchise history, but what Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams lacked in skill, he made up for in heart and sheer energy. Jerome also loves Toronto and continues to be involved in the community.
10. Bryan Colangelo
This was one of those love/hate selections. When first recruited to the Raptors, Bryan Colangelo seemed like the franchise’s savior as the Executive of the Year with Phoenix.
Dearly and truly, I was never a fan of the Toronto Raptors becoming the Euro-league all-stars but the 9-player overhaul for that season seemed to work. The Raptors tied a franchise record in wins, won the Atlantic division for the first time in franchise history and secured home-court in the playoffs. These were all new areas of success that the Raptors and their fans haven’t experienced, so there was good reason to be excited with what Colangelo brought to the organization.
The amount of bad decisions Colangelo has made as GM can’t go unnoticed, yet the amount of positive moves he made for the organization does. Moving forward with the current roster, Colangelo has positioned the team to make a resurgence in the league and become relevant again. The Raptors may be strapped for cash, but they aren’t lacking in talent and potential, so yeah, thank you Bryan. We should also thank Bryan for grooming Masai Ujiri (who was his assistant with the Raptors once upon a time) and waiting on Jonas Valanciunas because those two will surely be on this list one day.
No promises for the future, just the somewhat personal side of Bryan Colangelo.
9. Alvin “Boogie” Williams
One of the main pieces that came over from Portland in the Damon Stoudamire trade, Alvin “Boogie” Williams became a fan favorite for his hard-nosed guard play. He was truly a Raptors warrior, playing through injuries on many occasions and refused to back down from a challenge. His game always seemed to elevate in the playoffs, providing leadership in the back-court while being a consistent, two-way threat.
Alvin’s love for Toronto and the organization never went unnoticed; sticking around since he was traded to the team in 1998 (if you don’t count the 10-game stint with the LAC). His last few seasons were ravished by injuries, but he still played with passion. Eventually, he became an assistant coach, then he became a scout until he was let go this past summer. Alvin sits second in assists, fourth in games played and tied for third in playoff points. For the Raptors, it’s especially hard to find a player this loyal, so we should be truly grateful for the contributions Alvin “Boogie” Williams has made as both player and personnel for the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto Raptors/Toronto Maple Leafs cross-promotion. Could you see Quincy Acy dropping the gloves in a re-make?
8. Jose Calderon
Jose Manuel Calderon is statistically the best point guard in Raptors history. He holds the franchise record for assists (1979 assists ahead of second-place Alvin Williams), second in games played, fifth in scoring, first in free throw percentage and second in triple-doubles. For Jose, Toronto was home in many ways, and as fans we could sense his genuine love for the city and the Toronto Raptors organization.
Jose outlasted many other point guards during his time with Toronto, creating the most beautiful and re-occurring problem the organization has faced these past few years. T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack, Jerryd Bayless and even Kyle Lowry had to bow down to the timeless Spaniard, but all good things come to an end.
Whether he was starting or coming off the bench, he never let ego become an issue and always played hard for the name on the front of the jersey. His defense may have driven Raptor fans mad, but his vocal leadership and ball distribution made up for it. It wasn’t as if he was half-assing it either; Jose was simply challenged at moving his feet laterally.
Considering all he gave to the franchise, it will be nice to see him play for a successful team in the NBA.
The Best of Jose Calderon in Toronto.
7. Antonio Davis
Apart from Rafer Alston, I believe Antonio Davis is the only player to have two stints with the Toronto Raptors. Davis was probably the truest big man the Raptors have ever had. He was the man in the middle who brought toughness, leadership, rebounding and other intangibles to the team. He was without a doubt one of the keys to Raptors success during the glory days. When Vince was out, Davis was the man to go to (see 2001-2002). Davis was a perennial starter, close to a double-double average during his five seasons with the team. Davis also saw his best production as a pro while with the Raptors, earning his lone All-Star appearance.
Like many other Raptors he left on a bitter note, but the organization did bring him back a few years later in the Jalen Rose trade for a whopping 8 games until he got injured, then waived. It might’ve been the nostalgic presence he brought, it might’ve been the fact that Rob Babcock was slow. Either way, Antonio Davis was one of the few Raptor greats to actually finish his career in a Toronto Raptors jersey. Antonio Davis is the franchise leader in playoff rebounds and blocks. He also holds the record for most total rebounds in a season at 787.
Antonio Davis career mix
6. Lenny Wilkens
Lenny Wilkens is the only coach that actually made the list. And yes, over Sam Mitchell.
Not only did Wilkens have the highest winning percentage of any coach in Toronto Raptors history, but he also led the team to a couple playoff berths, including one where the Raptors actually advanced. As the coach with the second most wins (and most losses) in NBA history, he was able to manage the multitude of veterans that the Raptors had amassed at the time.
In three years with the Raptors, Lenny was able to bring the team to back-to-back playoffs, as well as coach the team to their first ever series victory. His record as the Raptors bench boss was 113-133 (.459). In the 2001-2002, Vince Carter had shut himself down for the season; things were looking bleak yet Lenny and the Raptors pulled out wins in 12 of their last 14 games for the franchise’s 3rd consecutive playoff berth, only to lose to the Detroit Pistons.
His final season was something out of a nightmare. The team went 24-58, and the Raptors set two NBA records. The first one was having an absurd amount of player injuries, totaling to 519 games with the other “record” being not dressing 12 players because of those injuries.
Lenny wasn’t the most assertive or aggressive in terms of his attitude and demeanor, but he commanded respect from his players by simply being there. Charles Oakley, Mark Jackson and Kevin Willis all helped to bring along the younger players, however the importance of a coach being able to relate to his team as a former player is something that truly can’t be measured.
Lenny’s Hall of Fame speech. Truly inspirational.
5. Morris Peterson
There’s really nothing bad you can say about Mo Pete because he’s probably one of the most, if not the most liked Toronto Raptor ever. Peterson was the king of the circus shot, a true Ironman (playing 371 consecutive games), and the franchise leader in games played and three pointers made. He made the All-Rookie first team, and also was ejected for slapping Vince Carter in the face. What isn’t there to love about this guy?
Anytime he got the ball for the corner three, you know the shot was going up. He was a great defender (only second to Doug Christie) and an amazing teammate.
Mo Pete was never an All-Star, but he gave the best years of his career to the franchise that drafted him out of Michigan State. His highest scoring output was when he averaged 16.8ppg in 2005 but statistics always don’t measure the worth of a player. Mo Pete wore his heart on his sleeve and gave everything he had to the Toronto Raptors. Not only did he love playing for his team, he loved playing for the city.
There was never a dull moment with Mo Pete and the media. These are the days of Raptors history that are missed ever so dearly. Thank you Mo Pete for being as positive off the court as you were on the court.
Mo Pete & Cabbie. Next to Kobe, Mo Pete had the best interviews with Cabbie.
4. Damon Stoudamire
Mighty Mouse was his name, and basketball was his game. As the first ever Toronto Raptors draft pick, Damon Stoudamire did not fail to impress. He impressed not only Toronto but the entire NBA with his larger than life play. Stoudamire was the first face of the franchise, which meant he set many first time records. He was productive enough during his 3 year Raptor stint that some of his records still hold up to this day. He was the first rookie of the year in franchise history in a year that he nearly averaged a double-double in points and assists (19.3 PPG & 9.3 APG). He is still the franchise leader in average minutes played per game in a season at 41.5 MPG, and that 9.3 APG holds the highest average in franchise history.
Stoudamire’s game helped raise awareness that basketball had arrived in Canada and provided Toronto with some recognition. At 5’10, Stoudamire represented the underdog, while playing for the biggest underdog at the time. Although he was part of the worst times in franchise history by a winning standpoint, he did lead the Raptors night in and night out. It may go overlooked but Stoudamire holds the franchise record with 3 triple-doubles. He was also the leader of the team that gave one of those ten losses to Michael Jordan and his 72-10 Chicago Bulls team.
When the Toronto Raptors beat
Michael Jordan the Chicago Bulls.
3. Chris Bosh
Christopher Wesson Bosh. CB4. Blane Harrington. All of whom make up the most productive player in Toronto Raptors franchise history. Maybe if Bosh had more of an impact on a larger scale (like winning), he may be sitting slightly higher on this list.
As the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft, Bosh made quite a name for himself with the Toronto Raptors. Once Vince Carter was shipped out, Bosh became the man, and he definitely stepped up to the challenge. When the Chris Bosh era ended in Toronto he finished as the franchise leader in minutes played, points, rebounds, blocks, double-doubles and free throws. His production earned him 5 trips to the All-Star game; he led the team to back-to-back post-season berths, was selected to the All-NBA Third team and was the only Raptor to be selected as the Eastern Conference player of the month.
While Bosh is one of the few Raptors that left everything on the court, he also had quite the personality off the court. As the face of the franchise he was generally open with the media (except when dodging questions about free agency).
After failing to surround him with another star, Bosh owed nothing to the franchise after spending seven solid seasons in Toronto. While it was tough to see him go, it was definitely justifiable. Love him or hate him, Chris Bosh was the man during his tenure with the Raptors, and earned his place as a Raptor great.
The All-Star plea
2. Vince Carter
Vince Carter aka Air Canada or Vinsanity earned his spot due to his high-flying in game antics and the fact that he revolutionized Toronto basketball, putting the Raptors on the map.
As a Raptor, he was the leading vote getter four times for the NBA All-Star game, becoming one of eight players in NBA history to receive more than two-million votes. This feat alone speaks volumes in comparison to how Chris Bosh essentially begged for the fans to vote for him. Carter was definitely one of the most electric players in the league; he was one of those players that actually made fans across the league want to see the Raptors play.
Vince holds a number of Raptors records, including the highest point per game average in a season at 27.6ppg (he averaged 23.4ppg for his career with Toronto). Carter was also the leader of the team that went to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals team and took former MVP Allen Iverson and his Philadelphia 76ers to seven games.
Vince Carter was the face of the Toronto Raptors franchise since he stepped on the court, and nobody has matched up. He won the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest that changed the world forever and produced some of the best highlights we have ever seen. Need I mention that he jumped over a 7’2 Frenchman in the Olympics and was on two video game covers?
There will never be another Vince Carter, for he was legitimately the Toronto Raptors only true superstar. When he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame and has his jersey retired, try not to take into account his bitter exit, as Vince Carter was much more than just a basketball player – he was an icon.
Back when times were good.
1. Glen Grunwald
Glen Grunwald is the best thing to happen to the Toronto Raptors organization thus far (obviously other than getting the franchise). His effect on almost everyone else on the list is what solidifies his position at the top of the list. By far, Grunwald is the best general manager in franchise history.
He had major ups and downs in the front office, especially towards the end of his tenure, however Grunwald is probably the reason that the Raptors are still in Toronto.
His transactions allowed the Raptors to get their first taste of success in both the regular and post season. The teams that played the Knicks and the Sixers had a tremendous amount of heart accompanied with an exciting brand of basketball.
Grunwald acquired Alvin Williams in the Damon Stoudamire trade, picked up Kevin Willis, drafted Antawn Jamison who was then immediately flipped for Vince Carter, swapped Marcus Camby for Oak, and signed Dell Curry, Mugsy Bogues and Mark Jackson as free agents. Additionally, he hired HOF coach Lenny Wilkens, signed the biggest name free agent to date in Hakeem Olajuwon, acquired defensive anchor Keon Clark through trade and eventually drafted Chris Bosh.
When you look at his transactions, Grunwald essentially only gave up a disgruntled Damon Stoudamire, rookie Antawn Jamison and Jonathan Bender (who never saw the court for Toronto). Take notes – that is what you call good asset management.
Want to get excited for what Toronto Raptors playoff basketball should be like? Then look no further.
Now you’ve read our Top 10, who would you include? Let us know your inner most thoughts and feelings; don’t forget to comment below.