Favorite Raptor Moments
by Vince LeBrun
Hey Raptor fans, we have a big treat for you this week. The Raptors have been in the league for 17 years and although they haven’t been all that successful, they have provided fans with a lot of great memories. So with the help of Deny the Ball originator Andrew Dawson, I have composed a list of our top 10 all-time favorite Raptor moments. I tried to include as little Vince Carter as I could, but taking a trip down memory lane made me realize how immense of an impact he really had on our team and our city. Enjoy!
10. Raptors GM Isiah Thomas kisses Damon Stoudamire
Thomas has been criticized a lot for his poor management decisions, but it was nice to see this much enthusiasm by a GM for his 7th overall draft pick. Stoudamire lived up to the hype by winning rookie of the year honors while averaging 19 points and 9 assists per game. Unfortunately he was traded after only three years with the team.
9. Shaq meets Nate Huffman
On December 29th 2002, the struggling Raptors were in Los Angeles to face the Lakers. Toronto was weak at the center position that year. Shaq was having his way with Raptor centers Jelani McCoy and Greg Foster so coach Lenny Wilkens subbed in Nate Huffman. When Nate walked onto the court, Shaq stared at him blankly and said “Who the f–k are you?”.
7. Raptors win 12 of 14 to make the playoffs
Before the All-Star break in 2001, Vince Carter suffered one of his many (many, many) injuries and was out for the rest of the season. Despite his absence, the Raptors went on a tear by winning 12 of their last 14 games of the regular season and clinched a playoff spot on the last day. They took the Pistons to a deciding Game 5 but down three points with 11 seconds left, Chris Childs forced a bad shot because he thought they were down four.
6. Keon Clark ruins Shawn Bradley’s career
Despite claiming that he never played a game sober, Keon Clark could ball. If you’ve never seen him play, think of a JaVale McGee after 10 Red Bulls. His dunk on 7’6” Shawn Bradley was the first “throw-in” dunk I had ever seen. I think I broke my nerf net that same day.
5. Really, Michael Ruffin?
On March 30th 2007 vs. the Washington Wizards, we saw something that we probably won’t ever see again in a professional basketball game. With time winding down and the Wizards up by three, Washington oaf Michael Ruffin decided to toss the ball up in the air so that the game could end without him being fouled. The ball slipped out of his hands just enough for it to come back down into Morris Peterson’s lap with sufficient time for a game-tying three pointer. The Raptors won in overtime.
4. Dee Brown alley-oop to Vince Carter
Not only is this one of my favorite Raptor moments, it’s my top candidate for greatest alley-oop of all time. Raise your hand if you think that Dee Brown threw a terrible pass and VC just made it look golden…
3. Donyell Marshall hits 12 three pointers
On March 13th 2005, Donyell Marshall torched the Philadelphia 76ers by hitting 12 three pointers on 19 attempts, tying Kobe Bryant’s single-game record. Andrew and I watched this game together on a cold night in Quebec City, making this memory of mine even fonder.
2. Vince Carter’s first game back in Toronto
We all remember this game. I can still hear the “VC sucks” chants in my head. I had never seen a group of fans so furious at one player. Too bad he ended up getting 39 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in that game. Thanks, Vince!
1. (obviously) The 2000 NBA Dunk Contest
Back in the day, dunk contests featured six of the highest flying NBA stars. The one in 2000 included Ricky Davis, Steve Francis, Larry Hughes, Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse and Vince Carter. Nobody expected Carter to do what he did. Nobody thought what he did was even possible. Carter faced Francis and fellow Raptor McGrady in the finals, but after the first dunk, everybody knew who was taking the trophy. “It’s over ladies and gentlemen!!!”
Go Raps Go,