Trisha Shetty (Editor)

1995–96 Toronto Raptors season

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Head coach  Brendan Malone
Record  21–61 (.256)
Arena  SkyDome Copps Coliseum
Playoff finish  Did not qualify
1995–96 Toronto Raptors season
Owner(s)  John Bitove, Allan Slaight, Isiah Thomas
Place  Division: 8th (Central) Conference: 14th (Eastern)

The 1995–96 NBA season was the Toronto Raptors' first season in the National Basketball Association. The Raptors, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, played their first games in 1995, and were the first NBA teams to play in Canada since the 1946–47 Toronto Huskies. Former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas became the team's General Manager. In their debut on November 3, the Raptors defeated the New Jersey Nets at the SkyDome 94–79, but went on a 7-game losing streak afterwards. At midseason, the team acquired Sharone Wright from the Philadelphia 76ers and Doug Christie from the New York Knicks. The Raptors finished last place in the Central Division with a 21–61 record. Top draft pick Damon Stoudamire was named Rookie of The Year averaging 19.0 points, and 9.3 assists per game. Following the season, Tracy Murray signed as a free agent with the Washington Bullets, Oliver Miller signed with the Dallas Mavericks and Alvin Robertson retired.

Contents

Expansion draft

The team's roster was then filled as a result of an expansion draft in 1995. Following a coin flip, Toronto was given first choice and selected Chicago Bulls point guard and three-point specialist B. J. Armstrong. Armstrong refused to report for training and Thomas promptly traded him to the Golden State Warriors for power forwards Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander. Thomas then selected a wide range of players in the expansion draft.

NBA Draft

Subsequent to the expansion draft, Toronto was given the second pick, after the Vancouver Grizzlies, in the 1995 NBA draft. They selected Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of University of Arizona, around whom Thomas chose to base the franchise. The selection of Stoudamire was met with boos from fans at the 1995 NBA Draft at the SkyDome in Toronto, many of whom wanted Ed O'Bannon of UCLA, an NCAA Final Four MVP.

The first game

The Raptors first ever game was played on November 3, 1995, against the New Jersey Nets at the SkyDome in front of 33,306 fans. Alvin Robertson scored the first points in Raptors history, as he hit a three pointer to give Toronto an early 3-0 lead. The Raptors were led by Robertson, who scored a team high 30 points, as well as Damon Stoudamire, who had a double double in his first career game, scoring 10 points and adding 10 assists, as the Raptors defeated the Nets 94-79.

Regular season

The team played its first season in the Central Division, and before the inaugural season began, sales of Raptors merchandise ranked seventh in the league, marking a successful return of basketball to Canada. As GM, Isiah Thomas quickly staffed the management positions with his own personnel, naming long-time Detroit Pistons assistant Brendan Malone as the Raptors' head coach.

The Raptors concluded their inaugural season with a 21–61 win-loss record, although they were one of the nine teams to defeat the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls, who set an NBA best 72–10 win–loss regular season record. With averages of 19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game, Stoudamire also won the 1995–96 Rookie of the Year Award.

Highs

  • December 10, 1995, The Raptors play the Vancouver Grizzlies for the first time. The game is held at General Motors Place in Vancouver. The Raptors win the game by a score of 93-81.
  • March 24, 1996 – The Raptors beat the eventual NBA Champion Chicago Bulls by a score of 109-108. Michael Jordan attempted to win the game on the final shot. Though the ball went in, it did not count because the ball left his hand after the final buzzer.
  • March 31, 1996 – The legendary Magic Johnson played his only game against the Toronto Raptors in Toronto. The Los Angeles Lakers won the game by a score of 111-106.
  • Stoudamire's breakout year

    Stoudamire had a noteworthy rookie season with the Toronto Raptors averaging 9.3 assists and 19 points. He earned the nickname "Mighty Mouse" due to the fact he stands only 5'10" (1.77 m), and that he had a Mighty Mouse tattoo on his right arm going into his rookie season. Damon currently holds the record of having the third-highest assist average ever by a rookie, and rookie record setter for 3-pointers with 133, breaking the 3-point record previously held by Dennis Scott. Damon was ranked second in scoring among all rookies in his rookie season, and led all rookies in minutes played and assists. He received the Shick Rookie of the Month Award twice and unanimously made the Shick All Rookie First Team. That same year Stoudamire was also awarded the Rookie of the Year Award for the 1995–1996 season, receiving 76 of the 113 possible votes and the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Rookie Game. Stoudamire holds the record for being the second-lowest draft pick (seventh overall) to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award, the lowest being Mark Jackson (eighteenth overall). Damon is also known as the shortest player at 5'10" to ever win this award. He did not play the last 10 games of his rookie season due to an injury, Tendinitis in his left knee. The Raptors went 1-5 without him and finished 21-61 in his and the Raptors' rookie season.

    Lows

  • November 15, 1995 – The Raptors lose to the Houston Rockets by a score of 96 – 93. The loss culminates in a seven-game losing streak for the Raptors, the longest losing streak of the season.
  • February 29, 1996 – The seven-game losing streak was duplicated. In a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the final score was 120 – 95.
  • March 29, 1996 – The Raptors suffer their worst loss of the season. The score was 126-86 in favour of the Orlando Magic. Prior to the game, Isiah Thomas and Brendan Malone got into an argument regarding playing time for rookies.
  • Franchise firsts

    Point: Alvin Robertson

    Award winners

  • Damon Stoudamire, First Team, NBA All-Rookie Team
  • Damon Stoudamire, NBA Rookie of the Year Award
  • Damon Stoudamire, NBA Schick Rookie Game, MVP
  • References

    1995–96 Toronto Raptors season Wikipedia


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