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Sports fans love to reminisce over the days that it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.
|CNNSI.com asked if Raptors fans had any opinions on the subject. And guess what ... they did.
Click here to read a sampling of what CNNSI.com users had to say.
The Toronto Raptors sure can draft. From Day One, they were aces at assessing talent. They just can't hold onto it. When Tracy McGrady went to Orlando last summer, it completed a dubious trifecta that saw Toronto lose each of its first-round picks from '95 (Damon Stoudamire), '96 (Marcus Camby) and '97 (McGrady). Next up? '98 first-rounder Vince Carter, presumably.
| August 3,
| The Raptors trade F Tracy McGrady to Orlando
for a conditional 1st-round pick
You could say that Tracy McGrady was finally acting his age. In what should have been the summer before his senior year of college, the 21-year-old McGrady instead was off on a whirlwind free-agency joyride of free dinners, ballgames and limo rides.
McGrady's star was clearly on the rise in Toronto. Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport
Meanwhile, the organization that had coddled him for the first three seasons of his NBA career sat by a quiet telephone wondering when its prodigal son was going to call.
But McGrady blew off the Raptors, then blew them away by making it sound as if he was escaping a system that had held him down all these years and kept him hidden in the shadow of Vince Carter ... who, by the way, just happens to be his cousin. His mother even ripped Carter in a magazine article, worsening an already growing feud.
For their part, the Raptors felt McGrady had misled them into believing they had a shot at re-signing him. They already had gambled on him once, drafting the 18-year-old high schooler in 1997 even though they were heading into just their third season. By hedging on his loyalty three years later, Raptors GM Glen Grunwald probably passed on trade offers that would have netted more than a conditional first-round pick.
|| McGrady Great and Grating at the Same Time
Toronto Sun -- November 10, 2000
By Mike Ulmer
Okay, said a reporter. "You're close to Disney World. What's your favorite character?"
"Mickey," McGrady said. "I'm a Mickey Mouse man."
Try not to laugh out loud.
One got the feeling McGrady was a goner once the '00 playoffs went sour. Rick Stewart /Allsport
Yes, Tracy McGrady is a Mickey Mouse man. He is fabulously rich and well on his way to carving out a fine career now that he has escaped the noxious effects of Vince Carter's shadow.
Nearly 22 points a game, 38.6 minutes per night, both tops on the Magic. Put a 31-point performance against the Seattle SuperSonics into the mix, and you have the makings of an elite player who is just 21. He already has forked over $ 7,500 for the privilege of slapping around the Philadelphia 76ers' Eric Snow. Now all that's left is referring to himself in the third person and the Hall of Fame.
But still, so young. He can't hide the ears. Maybe he will outgrow them but not now and not for a while.
McGrady was asked by the Mickey Mouse guy about how great he could be.
"Sometimes I amaze myself," he said.
Try not to laugh out loud.
|| K. Nam, Thornhill, Ontario
Everyone in this city is still bitter over the way that he left and even more disappointed that we will never see what could have been with the T-Mac-Carter show. It's too bad that T-Mac did not have the foresight to see the possibilities of his success here but also that our trusting-to-a-fault General Manager Grunwald did not get anything in return for the superstar McGrady. With a shot at drafting Brand or Francis and names like Larry Hughes and Allen Iverson being bandied about, the Raptors suffered a blow equal to any bad trade made out there.
Tracy McGrady leaving Toronto broke my heart for two reasons. 1) The thought of him and Vince running the wings for the next 10 years had quite a "ring" to it. 2) Tracy wasn't up front with Toronto, and if he was, Jermaine O'Neal would be starting in the front court for Toronto after the trade at the deadline last year. What a way to treat a franchise that spent two years paying for a therapist to acclimatize you to the NBA out of high school. Tracy McGrady owes everything that he has become in the NBA to the Raptors and their fans, and he couldn't even be honest.
| February 13,
| Toronto trades G Damon Stoudamire, F Walt Williams and F Carlos Rogers to Portland
for G Kenny Anderson, F Gary Trent, G Alvin Williams, two 1st-round picks, one 2nd-round
draft pick and cash.
Damon Stoudamire was Toronto's first star, the first Raptor that NBC could put in front of some horrible John Tesh music and promo a Sunday game. Stoudamire was the franchise's first draft pick, taken No. 7 overall in the SkyDome, and groomed in GM Isiah Thomas' own image. He was the Rookie of the Year in '95-96.
With a mouse on his arm and a raptor on his jersey, Toronto fans thought they had the perfect beast. Jonathon Daniel/Allsport
But by '98, Isiah had left the team, coach Darrell Walker was on his way out, and assistant coach Butch Carter -- whom many thought to be undermining Walker -- was going to be promoted.
Stoudamire wasn't going to stick around for the fallout. He had lost too many games while playing for people he wanted to play for. Making it clear that he would not re-sign after the '97-98 season, the Raptors were forced to cash him in. They sent him home to Portland in a mega-deal right before the trading deadline.
Walker quit that day and Stoudamire ripped the organization. It was pretty ugly and the franchise was pretty much back at Square One.
His exit, though hard for Raptors fans, did some good, resulting in some serviceable players and a slew of picks. Though Kenny Anderson never reported to the Raptors, he and some of the other players gained in the Stoudamire trade were parlayed into players like Antonio Davis and Kevin Willis. Nevertheless, Stoudamire has been booed mercilessly every time back despite having nothing but good things to say about the city.
|| The Trigger gets Pulled:
Winds of Change Finally Hit the SkyDome
as Raptors Send Stoudamire Packing
Toronto Sun -- February 14, 1998
By Bill Harris
Typically, Damon Stoudamire was unemotional in his final moments as a Raptor.
"The only thing I regret through all this ordeal is the city of Toronto got short-changed on what could have been," said the star point guard, who was traded yesterday to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Asked if he had a final message for Raptors fans who have supported him for three seasons, Stoudamire said, "I can't say anything to make it any easier."
Damon Likes Toronto ... Messy Exit Understandable History
Toronto Sun -- November 17, 2000
By Mike Ulmer
The man who left the Toronto Raptors first, did it best.
Damon Stoudamire was back in town last night.
He is 27 now, no longer a freshman/franchise player, but a wiser and sometimes rueful man. Once a cornerstone on a staggeringly bad Raptors team, he is now a well-working part on a champion-contending Portland Trail Blazers outfit.
Damon Stoudamire was the first high-profile defection from the Toronto Raptors. In that way, he begat Kenny Anderson (who never even showed up), begat Marcus Camby, begat Doug Christie and, of course, Tracy McGrady, whose favourite Disney cartoon character, let us not forget, is Mickey Mouse.
Stoudamire was booed last night at the Air Canada Centre, which is like booing Alexander Graham Bell for obscene phone calls.
You can't blame Damon Stoudamire for bailing on the Raptors. In the pervading bleakness of the fall of 1997, Stoudamire played the trade card because he saw an imminent disaster that would take two years to fully devastate the franchise.
The name of the plague? Former Raptors coach Butch Carter.
|| Aziz Pirani, Toronto
It took the entire city by storm! It was as if the air had been sucked out of an entire nation. The day that the Raptors traded Damon Stoudamire to Portland, for what has turned out to be Alvin Williams. ... This story has no ending, only a nation that is disappointed, upset and darn upset that they traded Stoudamire for Alvin Williams. To think we could have had Mighty Mouse and Vince playing on the same team. We can only dream ...
| June 25,
| Raptors trade F/C Marcus Camby to New York
for F Charles Oakley and the rights to Sean Marks
The case of Marcus Camby is difficult to assess.
Camby didn't show Raptors fans the same confidence he found in New York. Stephen Dunn /Allsport
On the one hand, you never like to trade a No. 2 overall pick with more than a year left on his contract. And you especially don't like to trade a 20-something for a 30-something.
On the other hand, getting 35-year-old Charles Oakley was a major upgrade on the mensch scale. Camby had been largely disappointing his two seasons in Toronto -- soft, injured, a non-impact player. Oakley was the consummate pro, a heart-and-soul player, an anti-Camby.
On the other other hand, Oakley doesn't do a lot of good for a team unless it's one piece away from contending. Maybe the Raptors thought they were close, maybe they didn't. Maybe they just wanted a player who would give the fans so much effort that they wouldn't miss Camby.
On the other other other hand, how do you ignore the fact that Camby did in fact blossom in New York, reaching deeper down than people thought he could to adapt to taskmaster Jeff Van Gundy and harsh spotlight afforded by Madison Square Garde?
On the other other other other hand, Camby most likely would not have blossomed this way in Toronto, where the only players called on the carpet for their misdeeds wear maple leafs on their jerseys and blades on their feet. Oh, you play for the Raptors? That's nice, eh.
The only hard facts we have to work with here are these numbers: 38 and 100 million. Those are, respectively, the number of games Camby missed in two seasons and the number of dollars he reportedly was going to be seeking come contract time. Sounds like reasons enough to ship him out ... even if he was No. 2 overall.
"One day I might be remembered as the guy who traded away Marcus Camby," groused GM Glen Grunwald. "[But] the situation here was not good for Marcus. He'll do much better in New York. They'll demand a lot more of him."
|| The Last Word
Toronto Sun -- June 30, 1998
By Jim Hunt
I'M WITH CAMBY: Marcus Camby can't figure out why the Raptors traded him to the New York Knicks for 35-year-old Charles Oakley. In making this trade and signing Kevin Willis, Raptors GM Glen Grunwald is trading away the team's future for the present.
The two aging veterans may be a short-term fix. But you have to wonder if that's the way to build a winner. Conventional wisdom is that you do it with young players. With the Knicks, I think Camby will surprise a lot of his critics. Maybe New York will give him a new lease on life as it did with John Olerud.
The Last Word
Toronto Sun -- June 12, 1999
By Ken Fidlin
A STAR IS BORN: There is a lesson for all of us when it comes to the value of patience. It can be summed up in two words: Marcus Camby. For most of this season, it seemed the steal of the century to have Charles Oakley in Toronto and Camby riding the pine in New York.
Camby, not to mention the management team that traded for him, was flayed ritually in the New York press.
Now, with Patrick Ewing out for the season, Camby has blossomed as the No.1 reason why the Knicks are confounding everyone's predictions in the NBA playoffs. A few months ago, we all shook our heads when the Knicks signed Camby to a $ 48-million contract. What were they thinking? Well, given the market for seven-footers and Camby's emergence as a star in New York's playoff run, it is quite possible he left as much as $ 30 million on the table by signing in February.
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