Since the birth of the Toronto Raptors baseball organization in 1995, the Toronto Raptors have had their fair share of star players. Sometimes these players reached stardom in Toronto, or sometimes they ended up leaving before they reached the peak of their abilities.
In 2016, DeMar DeRozan chose to re-sign with the Raptors - the only NBA team he's ever known. This helped to beat the perception that star players hate playing in Toronto and will either request a trade or leave in free agency. This perception was also beaten more recently when Toronto re-signed two more of its' star players in Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.
This has not always been the case, however, especially in the team's early years and into the early 2000s, several notable players expressed their displeasure with being a Toronto Raptor. Whether it was due to playing in a foreign country or simply not having faith in the organization, plenty of former Raptors couldn't wait to get out of town. Hopefully, DeRozan and Lowry have now changed the perception of what it's like playing in Toronto and representing the entire country of Canada. This article will explore 15 of the most notable Toronto Raptors who hated playing for the Raptors.
17 Damon Stoudamire
Damon Stoudamire is recognized as being the first ever draft pick made by the Toronto Raptors. He ended up spending 4 years with the team, before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in 1998. Despite being a fan favorite nicknamed "Mighty Moose" and having a few good seasons with the Raptors, the circumstances leading to his trade were less than friendly.
When GM Isiah Thomas departed the team, Stoudamire clearly felt the team was not close to becoming a winner and so he requested a trade. He was probably right, as Toronto was in fact mired in mediocrity at the time of his departure. In a 2009 interview in Toronto, Stoudamire said he felt he wanted to get to a winner to have a chance to win and Portland afforded him that opportunity.
16 Kenny Anderson
Speaking of the 1998 trade of Stoudamire, Kenny Anderson was one of players heading to Toronto. Anderson had struggled during the 1997-98 season, but was adamant about not wanting to ever play for the Raptors. Glen Grunwald, the team's former VP of legal affairs and later GM, said Anderson didn't communicate much with the team:"I explained to him
how much we liked him as a player and how much we'd like him to be part of our future here," Grunwald said back in '97. "I told him we have a new arena coming and new ownership and a group of young, talented guys." But Anderson wasn't interested.
Several days later, Anderson was ultimately traded to the Boston Celtics in a seven-player trade. The few days Anderson spent as a Raptor were undoubtedly marked by unhappiness as Anderson never reported to the team.
15 Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay was arguably one of the most hated Raptors in recent team history. Based on comments he made to the media following his 2013 trade, it seems as though he did not enjoy his brief tenure with the Raptors either.
In a 2014 interview, Gay said that he feels like he took the fall for a lot of things and that he was unfairly blamed for the team failures. He further contended that he was frequently mistreated, with the implication being that Gay was glad that he was traded to the Sacramento Kings. At least for Toronto's sake, trading the star forward away seemed to pay dividends, as the pieces they received in return eventually helped them land Serge Ibaka this past season.
14 Lamond Murray
Lamond Murray played for the Raptors between 2002 and 2005, most of which was spent battling various injuries that plagued him. While this would probably not endear Murray to most of the Raptors fanbase, it appears as though Murray also did not enjoy his time spent as a Raptor.
In a 2012 interview, Murray commented on the stigma that was associated with playing with the Raptors during the time he played for them. When asked about the stigma of playing for the Raptors, Murray compared it to a veteran player, such as himself, being sent off to Siberia to finish their career: "There used to be a stigma similar to what went on with the Clippers. If you are a veteran player and you get traded to Toronto, and you are on your last legs in the league".
13 Alonzo Mourning
Alonzo Mourning was a part of the much-maligned (at least in Toronto) trade of Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets in December 2004. Mourning refused to even report to Toronto, who was not considered to be a contending team, and was eventually bought out. It was later reported that Mourning even agreed to 'give up' around $6 million in the buyout just so that he would be able to play with another team other than Toronto.
Mourning was adamant about his desire to play for an immediate contender and did not see that opportunity happening in Toronto. Toronto's GM at the time Rob Babcock, claimed the reasoning was also medical related, saying: "He's going through a lot of medical things with his kidneys, evaluations and so forth," Babcock said, "things they do on a regular basis, and some stuff that they may have concerns with."
12 John Salmons
When John Salmons was a free agent in 2006, there were reports he had a verbal agreement on a contract with the Toronto Raptors. Salmons reneged on a reported 5-year/$23 million sign-and-trade deal that was supposed to send from Philadelphia to Toronto. At the time, Salmons changed his mind and determined that Toronto would not have been the right place for him, because of 'divine intervention'.
As it would turn out, Salmons ended up being forced into becoming a Raptor in the 2013 Rudy Gay trade with the Sacramento Kings. Considering he spurred the Raptors at the last minute several years prior, it would make sense that he probably did not want to become a Raptor as a veteran entering his last few years of his career. Salmons also probably was not pleased when his playing time was reduced after being traded to the Raptors - having averaged 24min/game with the Raptors compared to 30min/game with the Kings.
10 Antonio Davis
Antonio Davis was traded to the Toronto Raptors in December 1999 and ended up playing there until 2003. During this tenure with the Raptors, Davis was able to develop a reputation as being a team leader and became an All-Star in 2001. Despite all these on-court successes, Davis eventually did not want to be a Raptor.
In 2001, Davis actually admitted that he wanted to play for an American team instead, because of the value he placed on the education his children receive. He went so far as to hire a teacher for his children specifically for them to learn about America and American history: "Canada teaches a lot of different things -- the metric system. . . . Every day, they're singing the Canadian national anthem. . . . There are some different things they need to learn."
9 Marcus Camby
Marcus Camby was selected in the 1996 draft by the Toronto Raptors and played there until he was traded to the New York Knicks in 1998 for Charles Oakley. By all accounts, he had a tenuous relationship with then-Raptors manager Butch Carter. His character was questioned following legal scandals and he was involved in a defamation lawsuit with Carter. It should be safe to say that, through all of these circumstances, Camby likely did not enjoy his time as a Raptor. The back and forth comments continued between Camby and Carter, as Carter would file a lawsuit against Camby for what he deemed was defamation. The league responded to him by saying: "The idea of a coach suing a player over his public comments seems unprecedented and inappropriate."
8 Jalen Rose
Jalen Rose was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Toronto Raptors during the 2003-04 season; a trade he certainly was not pleased with. On his ESPN radio show, Jalen & Jacoby, he claimed that no good NBA players really want to play for the Toronto Raptors. He said that when he was traded to Toronto, he was introduced to what he called the "Queen Elizabeth tax hike". Rose blamed Canada's high tax rates for being the reason why no talented NBA free agents will voluntarily play for the Raptors. "You can't name me a player — an all-star calibre one at that — that as a free agent signed with the Toronto Raptors outright, because it does play a factor," Rose told Canada's CBC News.
6 Rafer Alston
Rafer Alston actually played in Toronto on two different occasions. He was traded to Toronto in 2003, before being traded to Miami shortly therafter. It was when Alston signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors in 2004, when the controversies started. In February 2006, various Toronto newspapers reported there was a 'physical altercation' between coach Sam Mitchell and Alston. Mitchell benched Alston during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, citing 'conduct detrimental to the team'. Alston abandoned the team by leaving the arena during the fourth quarter. The Raptors were committed to Sam Mitchell as Head Coach, and Alston was eventually shown the door.
Alston was stuck in his ways and they just so happened to conflict with Sam Mitchell's philosophies. It was evidently not a good relationship and despite on-court successes, Alston's relationship with the Raptors turned sour quickly.
5 Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh was arguably one of the most successful Raptors in history, and was credited with putting Toronto on the map between 2006 and 2010. Chris Bosh left Toronto in 2010 to join forces with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in Miami, consequently forming a superteam. Although Bosh agreed to leave through a sign-and-trade, Bosh made it clear he was not happy in the last few years in Toronto. He expressed how he had a desire to play for a championship calibre team, and felt Toronto was not in that position nor were they able to surround him with the right talent to win. Bosh also made a few remarks how he felt like playing in Toronto was essentially like playing in a cage.
4 DeMarre Carroll
DeMarre Carroll signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2014, but hardly played due to various injuries. In July 2017, Carroll was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in what was essentially a salary dump. In an interview with Toronto news sources following the trade, Carroll expressed how he knew the trade was imminent and that he was not going to be a Raptor much longer. Carroll specifically complained about there being a significant lack of trust within the Raptors' clubhouse. He criticized the organization for being too focused on iso-basketball and he believes a reset is not possible because once adversity hits, they will return to iso-basketball. Carroll 's game does not mesh well with the Raptors' emphasis on iso-basketball so he was never really able to fit in with the way they play.
3 Vince Carter
Vince Carter was arguably one of the greatest Toronto Raptors and experienced a considerable amount of fame while playing for the Raptors. However, he is often booed whenever he returns to the Air Canada Center as a visitor because of the way Carter left the team. Carter became disillusioned with the franchise when it selected Rob Babcock as General Manager rather than Carter's preferred choice, Julius Erving. This led to Carter feeling misled by the organization and demanded a trade because he felt the Raptors will never be true contenders. As it turned out, Carter was eventually traded to the New Jersey Nets in December 2004. Looking back on his time in Toronto, Carter did a lot to help the franchise, but there's no doubt his souring on the team led to a decline and prevented what could have been one of the better stories of the 2000s.
2 Hedo Turkoglu
During the brief time he spent in Toronto, Turkoglu was never one of the more popular Raptors. Based on interviews with the media following his July 2010 trade to the Phoenix Suns, it could be safely assumed Turkoglu did not enjoy his time in Toronto either. Turkoglu harshly criticized by saying that there is something wrong with the Raptors organization and that Toronto is a place where no player ever wants to go.
Turkoglu was also critical of Raptors GM Brian Colangelo for talking poorly about Chris Bosh after he left for Miami during that same summer: “If he was feeling this way, why not have the guts to say it during the season? Why not say it to Chris? Now that Chris has left, it’s not nice to say those things. Chris has been a franchise player and he did a lot of good things for the Raptors,” Turkoglu said. “I don’t think Chris is the type of player to quit on his teammates.”
1 Andrea Bargnani
Andrea Bargnani is arguably one of the most hated Toronto Raptors of all time. He failed to live up the hype and expectations associated with being the first overall pick of the 2006 Draft (ahead of players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and Rajon Rondo). Toronto media and Raptors fans frequently villified and critized the Italian. In a 2012 interview with an Italian newspaper, Bargnani apparently called the Raptors "pretty much the worst team in the NBA" and that Toronto will never be a winning team.
Coach Dwane Casey attempted to downplay the controversy by saying that there was a language issue and it got all lost in translation. Needless to say, where there is smoke, there's fire, and it can almost be assured that Bargnani was not happy to be a Toronto Raptor. Even if those comments made to the Italian newspaper were 'lost in translation', the frequent vilification of Bargnani would not make him want to be a Raptor. Bargnani was later traded to the New York Knicks on July 10 2013.
We've also published a list of the Top 15 most hated Toronto Raptors, so be sure to check that out!