Toronto Raptors

Ed O'Bannon Taught Us The Fans Aren't Always Right

basketballI just read an article about Ed O'Bannon who's suing the NCAA over its use of former student athletes' images in DVDs, video games, photographs, apparel and other material. Every time I hear the name Ed O'Bannon, I remember the lesson he taught us Raptor fans in the mid-90s.

The Toronto Raptors were an expansion team back in 1995 and we had the seventh pick in the NBA Draft Lottery that summer. The draft was held at SkyDome, so plenty of Raptor fans were in attendance. The Vancouver Grizzlies picked Bryant "Big Country" Reeves at #6 and there was no doubt who the fans wanted us to draft at #7.

Ed O'Bannon had a monster 1995 in the NCAA for UCLA. He was the key to UCLA's 1995 NCAA Basketball Championship, winning the John R. Wooden Award as well as the Oscar Robertson Trophy that year. We knew Ed O'Bannon, he was a household name, and we wanted him to be our first ever draft pick.

Isiah Thomas selected Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of the University of Arizona, and the fans at SkyDome booed. I watched it live and I remember the boos. O'Bannon went to the Nets at #9.

Stoudamire went on to win the 1995-96 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and became our beloved Mighty Mouse. O'Bannon played a couple of mediocre seasons and is now regarded as a NBA Draft Bust.

Who knew?

mightymouse

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Raptors Sign Hedo Turkoglu

raptorsThe Toronto Raptors have confirmed their acquisition of forward Hedo Turkoglu. This is likely the most significant free agent addition in the team's history, and it's no coincidence Turkoglu is a non-American.

Turkoglu's agent Lon Babby said the player and his wife Banu were intrigued by Toronto's ethnic diversity, including a large Turkish community. Turkoglu joins Andrea Bargnani, José Calderón, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Roko Ukić as non-Americans on our roster.

Toronto, a cultural mosaic with a diverse populous, has little trouble attracting players like Turkoglu. It's the Americans who would rather play elsewhere.

Welcome to Toronto, Hedo. Sadece bebeğim kazanın!

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Chris Bosh, Musician?

raptorsI follow Chris Bosh on Twitter. He just made an interesting announcement that he's signed a contract with.... Warner Music.

That's right, it's not an extension with the Toronto Raptors, an announcement most of us are hoping for, but an agreement with Warner Music Canada to produce a unique DVD and CD to be released in the fall of 2009. Chris Bosh also claims to be the first athlete in the world to launch his own application for iPhone and iPod touch on the Apple App Store.

The Chris Bosh branded CD will be a compilation of some of his favourite music along with new recordings from emerging artists. In a unique move, Chris is giving new, unsigned artists a chance to submit material for consideration on the compilation. Artists can submit their music through an interactive form on www.chris-bosh.com .

I haven't seen a Raptor this busy with extracurricular activities since Vince Carter attended his useless graduation ceremony the day of game seven of the conference semi-finals. We all know how that worked out...

bosh

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City of Losers

torontoMy city is a city of losers. At least when it comes to our primary professional sports teams. We suck.

Our Maple Leafs of the NHL are 27-28-13, which puts us 11th in the conference and well outside the playoffs.

Our Raptors of the NBA are 23-42, which puts us 14th in the conference and well outside the playoffs.

Our Blue Jays of MLB were 86-76, which put us 4th in the division and well outside the playoffs.

Our Argos of the CFL were 4-14, which put us 3rd in the division and well outside the playoffs.

Our Bills of the NFL were 7-9, which put us 4th in the division and well outside the playoffs.

There is little hope for any of the above. In fact, I'm willing to bet all miss the playoffs again next season.

Welcome to Loserville.

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1995-96 Toronto Raptors Roster

raptorsFor no particularly good reason, I wanted to revisit the Toronto Raptors' inaugural season. Alvin Robertson scored the first basket in franchise history and we went on to beat the New Jersey Nets 94-78 at SkyDome that magical opening night. I remember tuning in and realizing I was going to witness the birth of a Toronto professional sports franchise, something I didn't get to do with the Leafs or Jays.

Here's that inaugural Raptors team that went 21–61 in 1995-96

3 Zan Tabak
4 Vicenzo Esposito
7 Alvin Robertson
9 Tony Massenburg
9 Sharone Wright
13 Doug Christie
20 Damon Stoudamire
22 John Salley
23 DeWayne Whitfield
24 Jimmy King
30 Oliver Miller
32 Herb Williams
33 Carlos Rogers
35 Tracy Murray
40 Willie Anderson
44 Martin Lewis
52 Victor Alexander
54 Ed Pinckney
55 Acie Earl

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Sam Mitchell Fired as Raptors Coach

Raptors BasketballNamed NBA's coach of the year a little over one season ago, Sam Mitchell has been fired as head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He's been replaced on an interim basis by Jay Triano, a Niagara Falls, Ontario native best known for coaching the Canadian men's team from 1998-2004.

I'm sorry to see Smitch go, but this team was in danger of being left for good in that wasteland between the contenders and horrible. On a positive note, Jay Triano is now the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history.

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Raptors Raptors Raptors Raptors Raptors Raptors

RapsAs I watch the Leafs play New Jersey, I realize I missed the first Raptors game of the 2008/2009 season. I've been a big Raptors fan since day one, but during the winter they're the second best game in town. That's pretty unfair to the Raps, who have a nice team and might even win a playoff round this season, whilst the Leafers shouldn't get a sniff at the playoffs. But the Raps knew the score when they showed up 13 years ago.

As the Raptors season tips off, I just wanted to throw down a couple of Raptors notes. Firstly, I wanted to promote Doug Smith's Toronto Raptors Blog. Smith writes for the Toronto Star and has been covering Raptors basketball since our inaugural season, and I look to him for analysis and insight. His blog is interesting and informative, and I see he even live blogged tonight's game. If you like the Raps, subscribe to http://thestar.blogs.com/raptors/rss.xml.

Secondly, I thought I'd let you in on something cool Google does when you search for raptors. The first result is the box score from the most recent game, and the opponent and date of the next game. Soon I'll be Googling where I left my keys.

Raptors

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TSN2 and the Raptors

TV25 regular season Raptors games are going to be televised on TSN2. There's only one problem with that. If your cable provider is Rogers, as mine is, you can't get TSN2.

This is a great deal worse than throwing the games on RaptorsTV, because at least a Raptors fan can get RaptorsTV. The only way to get these 25 Raptor games is to change service providers to Bell or one of several regional companies, including Cogeco.

Rogers and TSN, let's make a deal.

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Jermaine O'Neal Joins Raptors

raptorsThe rumours are true. We're shipping off T. J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, our 17th pick in tonight's NBA draft and a player to be named later to Indiana for Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal.

O'Neal is a six time all-star who will greatly improve our frontcourt as he plays alongside Chris Bosh. Of course, he has to stay healthy, which is something he hasn't been able to do the past two seasons. We all know Ford had to go anyway, and although Nesterovic had a decent year last season, we need to get better at center and O'Neal should still have some gas in the tank.

The deal will be final as soon as O'Neal passes his physical. Although there are risks, it's a good move for the Raps.

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Get Out the Salami and Cheese, Chuck Swirsky Leaves Toronto

raptorsI didn't see this one coming. Chuck Swirsky is leaving his role as play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Raptors for a similar role with the Chicago Bulls. For ten years he was the voice of Raptors basketball but he's leaving us for "family reasons".

Love him or hate him, you noticed him. Swirsky was full of enthusiasm, cut from that Dick Vitale mold with the catch phrases and signature calls. He showed up in 1999, but I can't really remember who called the games before he arrived. Was it Rod Black? Was it Paul Romanuk?

I don't know who will call television games for the Raps next season, but they'll likely give Paul Jones a long look. Personally, I don't think Jones is ready for prime time. I say give the gig to Bob Cole.

Here's a little salami and cheese, Swirsky style.

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