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.
15 15. Isiah Thomas
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.
14 14. Brendan Malone
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.
13 13. Sharone Wright
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.
12 12. Dwayne Whitfield
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.
11 11. Zan Tabak
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.
10 10. Damon Stoudamire
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.
9 9. Carlos Rogers
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.
8 8. Alvin Robertson
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.
7 7. Tracy Murray
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.
6 6. Oliver Miller
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.
5 5. Martin Lewis
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.
4 4. Jimmy King
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.
3 3. Vincenzo Esposito
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.
2 2. Acie Earl
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.
1 1. Doug Christie
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.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!