By Lorenzo Tanos
Unlike the Toronto Huskies, who took part in the first-ever BAA game (in a losing effort) and lasted all of one season, the Toronto Raptors, at least, had staying power, if not overwhelming success in the NBA. So far, the team has won just one division title, and didn't do too well either in the 2012-13 NBA regular season, no thanks to subpar and/or injured seasons from Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry. We're down to our last few NBA teams to cover in our weekly trivia articles, and here are the Raptors, still one of the NBA's newest teams after 18 seasons.
1. Who was the Raptors' first pick in the 1995 Expansion Draft, and did he play for the team?
Chicago Bulls point guard B.J. Armstrong was picked first in the 1995 Expansion Draft, but this vital cog in the Bulls' first three-peat would end up traded to the Golden State Warriors for Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander after he refused to report to training camp. Not that the Warriors at the time were much better, but moving from the Bulls to the expansion Raptors, apparently, was Armstrong's idea of "from the penthouse to the outhouse."
2. And who scored the Raptors' first-ever points?
Former NBA All-Star guard Alvin Robertson had seen better days, and had missed the previous two seasons with back injuries when he joined the Raptors for the 1995-96 season. He started off strong, scoring the Raptors' first points and totaling 30 points in his comeback game. But the former defensive ace scored in single digits in the four games thereafter, and ended the season with just 9.3 ppg in 32.2 minutes per outing. Sadly, expansion didn't help much and Robertson was out of the NBA the following season.
3. Yet another ace point guard refused to report to Toronto after being traded to the Raptors midway through the 1997-98 season. Who was he?
Kenny Anderson was the centerpiece of a February 1998 trade that sent Damon Stoudamire, Walt Williams and Carlos Rogers to the Blazers, but he would refuse to report and was eventually swapped to the Boston Celtics in a seven-player trade.
4. What year did the Raptors make their first Playoffs appearance?
In 1999, Toronto made a wise move swapping their fifth-overall pick to Indiana for Antonio Davis – that pick turned into lottery bust Jonathan Bender. Davis, on the other hand, would make a key contribution to the Raptors, as cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady led the way for the Raptors' best season to date. The team went 45-37 and got swept by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2000 Playoffs.
5. What interesting distinction did the Raptors achieve in the 2002-03 season?
The 2002-03 season was a rebuilding year for the Raptors, as they finished 24-58 and showed legendary head coach Lenny Wilkens the door, apparently for being too nice and for failing as a motivator. But the Raptors were also short on manpower for most of the year, as they became the only NBA team so far not to dress 12 players or more in any one regular season game.
6. What year did the Raptors have their last season above the 50% win-loss mark?
2006-07 can be considered a very memorable season for the Raptors, as they clinched the Atlantic division with a 47-35 record, saw Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo named Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year and benefited from strong seasons from Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford, Anthony Parker and rookie Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors, unfortunately, were eliminated in the first round of the 2007 Playoffs by the New Jersey Nets.
7. Which Raptors coach fittingly became the first-ever Canadian-born head coach in the NBA?
Jay Triano was an unquestioned Canadian basketball star who scored 2,616 career points for Simon Fraser University, played ten years for the Canadian national basketball team and even got selected n the eighth round of the 1981 NBA Draft. NBA fans, however, remember him as the man who coached the Raptors from 2008 to 2011. Triano failed to make the Playoffs in his three seasons coaching the team, and is currently one of the Portland Trailblazers' assistant coaches.
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