The Inaugural 1995-96 Toronto Raptors Roster: Where Are They Now?

In November 1993, it was announced that the NBA would be expanding into Canada with the creation of the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. While the Grizzlies have since moved to Memphis, Tennessee, the Raptors have stayed put for 20 years now. The Raptors have not won a championship since debuting two decades ago, but they have made the playoffs on multiple occasions, with four division titles.

The team, which was owned mostly by John Bitove and Allan Slaight, played their first season in 1995-96. There were low expectations for the inaugural season, and those expectations were certainly met when the team finished with a paltry record of 21-61, earning them a last place finish in the Central Division ahead of only Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto certainly didn’t have much star power in 1995-96, though some fans were excited that they selected former All-Star B.J. Armstrong in the expansion draft. Armstrong would never see the court for the Raptors, but plenty of players did in 1995-96. Now the question is, what are those players (along with the head coach and GM) doing now? Here is the 1995-96 Raptors, and an update of what they are currently doing.

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15 Isiah Thomas

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The Raptors needed to bring in a big name for their front office, and they did just that when they selected former 12-time NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. Thomas joined the Raptors as the Executive Vice President in 1994 and was in charge of helping make draft selections that would include players like Tracy McGrady and Damon Stoudamire.

Thomas left the Raptors in 1998 after getting into a dispute with management. He would then go into broadcasting before becoming an owner in the CBA. Thomas then wound up as the coach of the Pacers from 2000-03 and then the Knicks from 2006-08 after spending time in the front office. From 2009-12, Thomas was the head coach of Florida International. More recently, Thomas was the source of controversy as he applied to become an owner of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. He didn’t get consideration, but is still the President of the franchise.

14 Brendan Malone

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Taking over the head coaching duties for an expansion team is never easy, but that’s the task that Brendan Malone had to take on. Malone had been an assistant at Fordham, Yale and Syracuse throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Before becoming the first head coach of the Raptors, Malone had only had head coaching experience in high school and at the collegiate level with Rhode Island.

The 1995-96 season was the only one in which Malone was hired to be the head coach. Malone became a career assistant afterward, heading to New York (twice) and Indiana before joining the Cavaliers coaching staff in 2004-05. You might remember that Malone was the interim head coach for the final 18 games of the season. After that, Malone joined the Magic coaching staff for five seasons. He would then spend a year away from basketball before joining the Detroit Pistons staff and he's still with them for the 2016-17 season.

13 Sharone Wright

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Sharone Wright was a lottery pick the year before the Raptors debuted, going to the 76ers in 1994 out of Clemson. Wright was traded to the Raptors midway through the 1995-96 season for some players that you probably have never heard of. Wright played in just 11 games during the season, but he made a pretty big impact by scoring 16.5 points per game and adding 5.2 rebounds.

Wright left the Raptors (and the NBA) after the 1997-98 season after a car accident left him with serious injuries. Wright would eventually recover and he was playing basketball overseas in 2002 with the Hong Kong Flying Dragons. Wright played for five more international teams, ending his career in 2008 in the Netherlands. Wright has been retired for the most part, but still hosts basketball camps in his native Georgia. He is spending a lot of time on the golf course, as well, enjoying the quiet life that most former players don’t get.

12 Dwayne Whitfield

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The former Jackson State University product Dwayne Whitfield was drafted 40th overall by Golden State in 1995 and was subsequently traded to the Raptors as part of the B.J. Armstrong deal. If you don’t remember Whitfield as a member of the Raptors in their first season, you aren’t alone. Whitfield appeared in just eight games during that season, averaging 5.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game.

Whitfield’s 1995-96 season with the Raptors was the only time he ever saw an NBA court as he was released in July of 1996 and then never picked up by another team. Whitfield would head overseas to play for many different teams in countries like Italy, China and Mexico. There don’t seem to be any stats for Whitfield’s post-NBA career and there isn’t much in the way of what he has been up to. Even after searching for him on social media, there doesn’t seem to be much information, so there’s no telling where he is these days.

11 Zan Tabak

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Croatian seven footer Zan Tabak was a second round pick in 1991 by the Houston Rockets, but didn’t play in the NBA with the team until 1994. The Raptors selected Tabak in the expansion draft, and he saw his minutes go from 4.9 per game to 19.9. In Tabak’s first season as a Raptor, he scored 7.7 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds per game.

Tabak bounced back and forth between Europe and the United States after leaving the Raptors in 1998. Tabak had stints with the Celtics and Pacers, and he retired in 2005 with Unicaja Malaga. Tabak immediately became a coach, landing his first head coaching job with Sant Josep Girona in 2011. Last season, Tabak had his fifth head coaching gig with Maccabi Tel Aviv,and in 2016 it was announced that he would be the new head coach of Sevilla in Spain after winning the 2016 Israeli Cup.

10 Damon Stoudamire

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Damon Stoudamire became the Raptors’ first ever draft pick when he was selected seventh overall in 1995 out of Arizona. Stoudamire was undoubtedly the star of the team when he averaged 19.0 points, 9.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. His performance that year landed Stoudamire a spot on the All-Rookie Team and even the 1996 Rookie of the Year Award.

After the 1997-98 season, Stoudamire became a member of the Portland Trail Blazers until 2005, then spent his final few seasons with the Grizzlies and Spurs, retiring in 2008. Since then, Stoudamire has found himself in the coaching circuit. Stoudamire was the director of player development at Rice before becoming an assistant at the University of Memphis (twice), the Grizzlies and his alma mater, Arizona. In 2016, it was announced that Stoudamire would become the next coach of Pacific and the upcoming season with the Tigers will be his first as a head coach.

9 Carlos Rogers

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Not to be confused with the NFL cornerback of the same name, Carlos Rogers was the 11th pick out of Tennessee State in 1994 by Seattle, though he started playing with Golden State. The Raptors acquired Rogers in the B.J. Armstrong trade and the 1995-96 season would be his only full one as a Raptor. Rogers averaged 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, appearing in 56 games.

Rogers’ playing career in the NBA would last longer than some of his fellow teammates, as he was on an NBA roster each year from 1994 to 2002, ending his career with the Indiana Pacers. Rogers, who was a fan favorite after offering to donate his kidney to his ailing sister, has kept up with his philanthropist ways since retiring. Rogers has been spotted volunteering his time and money on multiple occasions, including an appearance on Oprah. For the most part, though, Rogers has been very quiet.

8 Alvin Robertson

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A former lottery pick in the famed 1984 NBA Draft, Alvin Robertson was once a star in the NBA with San Antonio, making three All-Star Game rosters and then doing it again in 1991 with Milwaukee. Robertson had back problems, which caused him to miss the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. He gave it one more try with the expansion Raptors and scored 9.3 points per game while adding 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

The Raptors would be the last team that Robertson played for, as he was a member of the Florida Beachdogs of the CBA for one season. Robertson had a brief return to basketball in 2000 with the San Antonio Bombers, though his problems off of the court have gotten the best of him in recent years. Robertson was arrested in 2010 for sexual assault of a child, but was found not guilty of the charges in 2015. Regarding the charges, Robertson said in late 2015 that the accusation “ruined” him and that he “lost everything.” Now, the troubled former NBA player is trying to get his life back in order.

7 Tracy Murray

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Tracy Murray was a former first round pick that spent his first three seasons in the NBA with Portland and Houston, only notching 18 starts. Murray found a temporary home in Toronto for the 1995-96 season when he played in all 82 games, including 37 starts. Murray had the best season of his career, collecting 16.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, both of them being career highs.

Thankfully, Murray’s post NBA career hasn’t been shrouded in mystery or crime like the last few players on our list. Murray’s playing career ended in France in 2007, and he quickly became an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA D-League. In 2011, Murray became an assistant with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA for one season. Since 2015, Murray has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff and has returned to UCLA to finish off his degree.

6 Oliver Miller

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Arkansas alum Oliver Miller was one of the more established players on the 1995-96 Raptors roster after having spent two seasons with the Suns and another with the Pistons. Miller came over to the Raptors in the expansion draft and spent one season with the team where he averaged 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Compiling a list of all of the teams that Miller played with after Toronto would take way too much time, but just know that it’s more than a dozen including stints in the CBA and a brief NBA return in 2003-04. Miller had some troubles in his post playing career after pistol whipping a man at a barbecue, landing him an assault conviction. In 2012, Miller was sentenced to one year in county jail and has been on probation ever since. The most recent update from Miller came from Mesa, Arizona, where he was selling used cars with Superstition Springs Chrysler.

5 Martin Lewis

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Unlike Jimmy King, our next entry, nobody knew who Martin Lewis was in college. Lewis played with two different community colleges in Kansas and was then drafted in 1995’s second round by the Warriors, but only ever played with the Raptors. In the 1995-96 season, Lewis averaged 4.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game over just 16 appearances.

After the 1996-97 season, Lewis was out of the NBA and didn’t return to professional basketball until 2001. He spent the 2001-02 season with two different teams in the NBA D-League and one in the USBL before calling it quits. Out of all of the former Raptors on the list, Lewis has certainly led the quietest post-playing career. Not even the Raptors were quite sure what their former player was up to when they recently looked back on their 20th anniversary, so please provide us with any updates if you see this man.

4 Jimmy King

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A high profile player in college with Michigan, Jimmy King was selected in the second round with the Raptor’s first ever draft class. In his rookie season, King played in 62 games (with only one start) and averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Before he could return to the next season, King was traded away.

King was never really able to land on his feet in the NBA after 1997 when he departed from the Denver Nuggets. King played with a multitude of teams, but they were all in smaller leagues that included the CBA. King’s playing career came to an end in 2005 after spending time with Guaiqueries de Margarita, and he started working for Merrill Lynch while doing broadcasting for University of Michigan basketball games on the radio. Now, King runs a nonprofit organization called H.Y.P.E. to mentor youth in Detroit.

3 Vincenzo Esposito

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Vincenzo Esposito had a chance to be drafted in 1991, but no team selected him so he returned to his native Italy to play professionally. Esposito would become the first free agent ever signed by the Raptors in 1995. In the inaugural season, Esposito played a total of 30 games, scoring 3.9 points per game and adding 0.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists.

The 1995-96 season would be the only one that Esposito spend in the NBA. Esposito moved back to Italy where he had a very long basketball career. He had 15 different playing stints in Italy, and his career finally ended in 2014 while a member of Imola. Esposito became a coach in 2009, and he has coached five different teams since then. Esposito is currently the head coach of Pistoia Basket 2000, a job that he first took in 2015 after he left Juvecaserta.

2 Acie Earl

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Acie Earl was picked up with the 19th pick in 1993 out of Iowa by the Celtics and he was traded to the Raptors during the team’s first season. That year would mark the pinnacle of Earl’s NBA career as he averaged 7.5 points per game, and even threw a 40 point performance in there against the team that drafted him.

Earl would play with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1997 before leaving the NBA for good. Earl would spend seven years outside of the United States playing basketball for many different leagues, and then became the coach of the Tijuana Dragons of the ABA in 2004 before switching over to the Cleveland Majic in 2006 of the WBA. Now 46 years old, Earl is in charge of Venom Sports Training, which helps children under 18 years old hone their basketball skills. Acie is also a teacher with the University of Iowa in the American Studies department specializing in basketball coaching.

1 Doug Christie

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Doug Christie was originally drafted 17th overall by the SuperSonics, but went over to the Lakers in a trade due to a contract dispute. After two seasons with Los Angeles, Christie found himself with the Knicks until the 1995-96 season when he was traded once again, this time to the Toronto Raptors in their first season as a franchise. Christie found a lot more success in Toronto than in his previous two stops, starting nearly every game he played in as a Raptor, and he scored 10.1 points per game over the remainder of the inaugural season.

Christie remained a strong defensive option in the NBA after leaving Toronto and eventually retired during the 2006-07 season. Christie has had an interesting time since his playing days ended, including having his wife announce that the couple would be producing an adult movie. Christie also joined up with Dennis Rodman to bring basketball to North Korea by playing a game against the Senior National Team.

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