November 3, 2019 marked the twenty fifth anniversary of the Toronto Raptors. Through all the ups and downs, the Raptors fought long to make their mark on the NBA. With twenty five years under their belt (and hopefully forever to go), it’s fair to take this opportunity to reflect on the moments that have made the team that we know today.
Here are the top ten greatest moments in the Toronto Raptors franchise history:
10: Dee Brown feeds Vince Carter’s slam dunk against the Clippers
On March 8, 2000, Toronto visited the LA Clippers at the Staples Center. Throughout this season, Vince Carter averaged 25.7 PPG, shooting 46.5 per cent from the field and 40.3 per cent from behind the arc. This dunk was crazy, to say the least. Carter caught the ball in the middle of flying through the air and slammed it down with one swift motion. The pass by Brown was awful, so the fact that Carter turned the pass into a jaw-dropping play shows how amazing he really is. Carter would go on to score 23 points in this game, including the massive alley oop. He also shot the game winner, and the Raptors took this game 95-94.
9: T-Ross drops 51 points against vs. LA Clippers
On January 25, 2014, Terrence Ross tied Vince Carter for the most points ever scored by a Raptor in a single game. That night, he went 10/17 from behind the arc and was 16/28 from the field. He also made 9/10 free throws that night. Even though Toronto went on to lose this game against the Clippers 126-118, there’s no denying that T-Ross was a force to be reckoned with.
8: Lowry’s 2016 half-court shot against Miami
When Toronto was trailing 90-87 with 3.3 seconds left in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Kyle Lowry came to the rescue. From half-court, the Raptors point guard fired a bullet from downtown that forced the game into overtime. The Raptors would go on to win the series in seven games and advance to face the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
7: Terrence Ross wins 2013 dunk contest
T-Ross’s crazy dunks in the 2013 All-Star week were nothing short of amazing. In his first dunk, which was a 360 degree, behind-the-back slam, the crowd went wild. From there, the dunks took off (literally). In his last dunk, he jumped over a child and still swung the ball under his legs. He even incorporated a Vince Carter tribute dunk, which he executed perfectly.
6: Raptors acquire Kyle Lowry
In 2012, the Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Gary Forbes and a protected future first round draft pick. The trade was instrumental in building the team that we know today, and Lowry is a key player in our starting five. Lowry is now going on his eighth season with the Raptors, and has battled through thick and thin for the things that he has accomplished. Entering the 2019-20 campaign, Lowry has averaged 17.3 PPG, on 42.3 per cent from the field and 37.5 from three-point range across seven years with the Raptors. Kyle Lowry is the heart and soul of Toronto basketball, and the turn-around one the team wouldn’t have been possible without him. Also, shoutout to the Knicks for not accepting the trade for him in 2013, you’re the real MVP.
5: First game in Raptors history
On November 3, 1995, the Toronto Raptors player their first game against the New Jersey Nets. The game took place in the SkyDome and 33,306 fans attended. Alvin Roberston, the starting shooting guard, scored an early three-pointer for the first points in franchise history. Robertson went on to score a team-high 30 points. Damon Stoudamire, who was drafted by the Raptors, scored a double-double in his first career game. He scored 10 points and had 10 assists. Toronto went on to defeat the Nets 94-79.
4: DeMar DeRozan scores 52 points against the Bucks
DeMar DeRozan started off the 2018 new year by setting the record for most points scored in a game. On January 1, DeRozan went 17 of 29 from the field, 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and 13 of 13 from the free throw line. The Raptors went on to win this game over the Milwaukee Buck 131-127 in OT. Although this would be his last season with the Raptors franchise, it’s safe to say that DeMar made a lasting impact on the entire city. This game was one of the many highlights of his career in Toronto.
3: Vince Carter wins the dunk contest in 2000
Vince Carter’s performance at the Dunk Contest in 2000 put the Toronto Raptors on the map. To say that the entire crowd was astonished was an understatement. I think Shaq’s reaction is the epitome of how everyone felt that night. This night was also a staple of the Carter Era, which Raptors fans can’t ignore as one of the most significant moments in franchise history.
2: Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot against the 76ers
Four-point-two seconds. That’s all the time that the Raptors had to make a shot and win game seven. Many people thought back to 2001, when the Raptors played a game seven against the 76ers. Vince Carter missed that shot, with barely two seconds left in the game. In this type of scenario, the only person to give the ball to was Kawhi Leonard. The shot came from the corner, an off-balance three-pointer. Arguably, this shot could’ve gone either way. Nevertheless, in slow motion, we all watched the ball arc towards the net.
The ball fell into the net, the crowd erupted, and everyone in the country went crazy. Next, we saw Kawhi swarmed with people and Joel Embiid dragging his teary-eyed body into the 76ers locker room. Just like that, the Raptors had advanced to an eastern conference final.
1: 2019 NBA Champions
I feel like this one is self-explanatory. After 24 years, the Raptors finally won an NBA championship and got to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy. The pervious years yielded disappointing playoff outcomes, frustrated players, and frustrated fans.