1995–96 Toronto Raptors season
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 second-year forward 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.
|1995–96 Toronto Raptors season|
|Head coach||Brendan Malone|
|Owner(s)||John Bitove, Allan Slaight, Isiah Thomas|
|Place||Division: 8th (Central)|
Conference: 14th (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
Following the season, head coach Brendan Malone was fired, Tracy Murray signed as a free agent with the Washington Bullets, Oliver Miller signed with the Dallas Mavericks and former All-Star guard Alvin Robertson retired.
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.
|1||B. J. Armstrong||Point guard||United States||Chicago Bulls|
|3||Tony Massenburg||Forward||United States||Los Angeles Clippers|
|5||Andrés Guibert||Forward-Centre||Cuba||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|7||Keith Jennings||Point guard||United States||Golden State Warriors|
|9||Dontonio Wingfield||Forward||United States||Seattle SuperSonics|
|11||Doug Smith||Forward||United States||Dallas Mavericks|
|13||Jerome Kersey||Small forward||United States||Portland Trail Blazers|
|15||Žan Tabak||Centre||Croatia||Houston Rockets|
|17||Willie Anderson||Guard-Forward||United States||San Antonio Spurs|
|19||Ed Pinckney||Forward||United States||Milwaukee Bucks|
|21||Acie Earl||Centre||United States||Boston Celtics|
|23||B. J. Tyler||Point guard||United States||Philadelphia 76ers|
|25||John Salley||Power forward||United States||Miami Heat|
|27||Oliver Miller||Centre||United States||Detroit Pistons|
Subsequent to the expansion draft, Toronto was given the seventh 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.
|1||7||Damon Stoudamire||Point Guard||United States||Arizona|
|2||35||Jimmy King||Shooting Guard||United States||Michigan|
Toronto Raptors roster
The first gameEdit
The Raptors’ first ever regular season 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.
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.
- 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, one of only ten losses the Bulls would suffer that season. 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 yearEdit
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 2–8 without him and finished 21–61 in his and the Raptors' rookie season.
- 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.
Record vs. opponentsEdit
|1995-96 NBA Records|
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
Point: Alvin Robertson
|September 18, 1995||To Toronto Raptors
|To Golden State Warriors|
B. J. Armstrong
|February 18, 1996||To Toronto Raptors
|To New York Knicks|
|February 22, 1996||To Toronto Raptors
|To Philadelphia 76ers|
1996 second-round pick
1997 second-round pick
|Player||Date signed||Former team|
|Alvin Robertson||October 5||Detroit Pistons|
|Thomas Hamilton||October 6||none|
|Tracy Murray||November 1||Houston Rockets|
|Dwayne Whitfield||February 23||Golden State Warriors|
|Dan O'Sullivan (10-day)||April 9||Shreveport Storm (CBA)|
|Player||Date signed||New Team|
|Doug Smith||October 4||Boston Celtics|
|Jerome Kersey||Golden State Warriors|
|Thomas Hamilton||October 18||Boston Celtics|
|Dwayne Whitfield||November 2||Toronto Raptors|
|John Salley||February 2||Chicago Bulls|
|Herb Williams||February 23||New York Knicks|
|Dan O'Sullivan||April 18||Scavolini Pesaro (Italy)|
- 1995-96 Toronto Raptors
- Laying the Groundwork for the NBA in Toronto, nba.com/raptors, accessed 16 June 2007.
- New Jersey Nets at Toronto Raptors, basketball-reference.com, 3 November 1995, accessed 20 August 2015.
- 1995-96 Standings, nba.com/history, accessed 16 June 2007.
- Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors, basketball-reference.com, 24 March 1996, accessed 16 June 2007.
- Damon Stoudamire Info Page Archived 2007-07-12 at the Wayback Machine, nba.com, accessed 16 June 2007.
- "Rookie Award To Stoudamire". New York Times. May 16, 1996. Retrieved October 13, 2017.