Friday night the Toronto Raptors played their 1000th game in franchise history. Of all the pro sports teams I’m a fan of…the Raptors have always been at the top of the list. From the Mighty Mouse era to the VC one….to the CB4 one, this definitely has been a roller coaster ride. Here’s my personal top 10 moments in Raptors history.
10)VC makes the guarantee.
It was the 5th of May in 1999 and the Raptors had just wrapped up a 97-86 win over the Cavaliers. Why is the date significant? It was the strike shortened season and the Raptors had just gone 23-27. After the game a rookie guard out of North Carolina grabbed a mic and addressed what remained of the crowd. Thanking the crowd
for the support all year he added a guarantee that the Raptors would be in the playoffs the next year. For the first time in their young history the team actually had a chance. With a 1-2 punch of Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter everyone in Toronto including me believed that it was the start of an era. Surely enough the Raptors made the playoffs the next year. They lost to the Knicks in a rather forgettable series for all the wrong reasons and with T-Mac’s quick departure out of Toronto at the end of the season that dream of a potential championship run died as well.
9)Raptors win first playoff series
First playoff win. Enough said. The 2nd trip to the playoffs was definitely a lot sweeter and this series was just the start of that and reflected the playoff run. The Raptors lost game 1 before coming back and winning game 2 by 20 at MSG. They lost game 3 at home but came back to win game 4. The win in game 4 was the first playoff win in franchise history. Game 5 at MSG….in another close game the Raptors finally did pull it off. I still remember that Alvin William jumper in the final seconds of the game that sealed the deal for the Raptors.
8)Playoffs vs Nets
Have a personal bias towards this one. I went to games 4 and 6 at the Continental Airlines Arena (now IZOD Center) in NJ. Even though the Raptors lost both of those games and the series those two games are the only 2 NBA games I’ve been to. The atmosphere at both of those games was electric. The amount of Toronto fans that had taken the drive down to Jersey was insane. VC getting booed every time he touched the ball…..it almost had a Canadian feel to it as by estimate at least 40% of those in attendance were rooting for the Raptors.
7)Raptors make playoffs for first time.
Enough said. The guarantee laid out by Vince Carter at the end of the previous year is followed through on. Of course that series is one I’d like to forget because of all the drama that went on.
6)VC Dunk Contest
Watching on TSN….I had the same reaction as the rest of the basketball world. The term “Half Man Half Amazing” was coined that night. It is a shame looking back that VC was at the peak of his career that night. He stole the show. The reaction he got from the crowd, NBA players all spoke volumes. He had arrived.
5)VC erupts for 51 on NBC
February 27th 2000. The Raptors are on their way to the first playoff appearance in franchise history and the US fan base starts to take notice. The stage was set on a Sunday afternoon, NBA on NBC. Noon tip off. It was the first time the Raptors appeared on national TV in the US. It was just days after his electric performance at the Slamdunk contest in Oakland, California. Anyone who didn’t know him by that point took notice that day as VC shot 17-32 from the field on his was to 51 points. No Raptor has touched the 50 point plateau in a regular season game since.
4)March 24, 1996
It was just the 67th game in franchise history…..but to me sticks out more then any of other ones that came before or after it The Raptors were 18-49 coming into the game. Respectable for an expansion team. Standing on the otherside were the Chicago Bulls who came into the game with an unbelievable 60-8 record. Trailing by 1 having last possession the Bulls in a year where it all went right for them…could not do it against the lowly expansion team. Both Steve Kerr and Michael Jordan (fadeaway…what else with time expiring that he could not get off in time) could not seal the deal. Playing shorthanded (the Raptors played just 7 men that night) against one of the greatest teams ever assembled the Raptors pull of a 109-108 win in front of more then 36,000 fans at the Skydome. For a moment time did freeze. For that split second no one had any idea whether that MJ fade away counted or not. When the realization did sink in…..the expansion Raptors were part of a small group of teams that defeated the Bulls (72-10) that year.
3)Mo-Pete for 3
“Onions…Baby….Onions!” indeed. Chuck Swirsky’s reaction says it all. Why Mo-Pete even got a chance to make that shot…no one knows as the ball should just have been heaved to the other side.
2) February 24, 1999
Game 10 of the strike shortened year and Toronto loses by 20 to slip to 3-7 on the year. Why does this make the list? This is day Vince opened some eyes around Toronto. Mighty Mouse got traded too soon…….Camby was a dissapointment….no one knew what Mo-Pete or T-Mac were at this point….did the Raptors finally have a star to call their own?
1)Raptors vs 76ers
What a series it was. Seven amazing games one after other. The nightly battle between Iverson and Carter were epic. The ball was again in VC’s hands and he got his patented falling away 3 poing shot off which I was certain that shot was going in but it wasn’t meant to be. It certainly was the peak for the franchise to this date. I am confident this years team can give us a run to match that one but being 2 inches away from the Conference Finals….this is my #1 Raptors moment from the past
Alltime Raptors team.
This is purely based on what they did in a Raptors uniform
PG – Damon Stoudamire
SG- Vince Carter
SF – Tracy McGardy
PF- Chris Bosh
C – Antonio Davis