Next Friday will be a special moment in Toronto as one of the biggest games of the season will take place at the Scotiabank Arena between the Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs.
Roughly a month later a ceremony will take place in Miami that for some may be deemed equally as special. Both will feature two former players, who were once prominent members of Canada’s only NBA team.
Demar DeRozan. Vince Carter. Chris Bosh. Damon Stoudamire. Two of the four are still active on NBA rosters. The other two are easily listed among the greatest players to ever suit up for the Toronto Raptors.
Established in 1995, the Raptors have yet to retire a jersey to the rafters during their near quarter of a decade in existence. The only other team in the league to not have a jersey hanging in their rafters are the LA Clippers. Heck even the Orlando Magic have retired number 6 as a tribute to their fans. Aside from the obvious why, the next most important question becomes who gets the honour first in the city of Toronto?
Drafted with the seventh pick during their inaugural season, Damon Stoudamire turned the fans negative reaction to his selection into the NBA Rookie Of The Year award.
“Mighty Mouse” would spend a total of two and a half seasons with the Raptors before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers where he would spend the majority of his career. Prior to heading to the West Coast, Stoudamire would average nearly 20 points, four rebounds and a shade under nine assists per game during his 200-game career in Toronto.
After Stoudamire left town, the Raptors were in need of a face to their franchise and a draft day trade to bring in Vince Carter put the team on the NBA map.
Playoff appearances, All-Star games, dunk contests, national sponsorships and primetime game telecasts all came on the back of Carter’s talents. Let’s ignore the proclamations that Carter made when he wanted out of Canada as time heals all wounds and for those that don’t believe that Vinsanity gave the team enough are crazy in their thoughts.
Chris Bosh was the next great player in Raptors history to put his name on a list of team records. Sure he wasn’t as explosive as Carter, but the five-time Raptors All-Star was the focal point for six of his seven seasons in Toronto.
Yes the team only went to the playoffs twice during that span and did not advance past the second round, but with an average of 20, 9 and 2 and the most consistent threat on a nightly basis for the Raptors, some recognition for by his former team would be appropriate.
Sure CB4 had more success and captured two championships during his time in Miami, an achievement that the Raptors are still hoping to reach, but as an individual his numbers in Toronto exceeded those that he put up in South Beach, a place where Bosh will see his jersey lifted to the rafters later this season.
It seems like everyone across Canada was impacted by the trade that took place last summer when the Raptors seemingly out of nowhere decided to part with Demar DeRozan, their all time leading scorer and games played, who was shipped off to San Antonio for a potential rental of Kawhi Leonard.
When you look at the history of the Raptors, DeRozan’s name will be mentioned numerous times. Regardless of whether or not you believe that Leonard is a better player, the way that they treated DeRozan was unprofessional. Could the team possibly make amends by hoisting a number 10 jersey, certainly, but considering that the Compton native is only 29 years old, fans would have to wait more than a decade for that ceremony to take place.
Should the Raptors hang all of the aforementioned players jerseys in the rafters? Yes, without a doubt. Will fans one day see numbers 21, 15, 4 and 10 honored in a ceremony? Again, this shouldn’t even be a question. However it is funny to think that a player who was so beloved and then so hated will once again create history as it only a matter of time before Toronto fans see a Carter jersey hoisted above the court at the Scotiabank Arena. If only he would stop playing so he could be properly celebrated.