COMMENTARY | The Toronto Raptors have been in the NBA for less than 20 seasons, but narrowing this bracket down to eight players was a challenge due to the fact some of the franchise's players have racked up plenty of personal accolades while others have endeared themselves to fans for their passion on the court and loyalty to the franchise.
What made doing this bracket tough to flush out is the fact the three top players to ever put on a Raptors jersey -- Chris Bosh, Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire -- all left town under circumstances that have resulted in all them being booed mercilessly whenever they have returned as visitors. Only Stoudamire has been able to earn some goodwill by telling the media he regrets leaving Toronto.
Because of this there's a clear divide in the minds of fans between players they love and hate. However, despite some fans loathing Bosh, Carter and Stoudamire, it's clear that trio is the best to ever play for the team.
Here's how I would seed the top Toronto Raptors of all time:
1. Vince Carter
2. Chris Bosh
5. Alvin Williams
6. Damon Stoudamire
8. Antonio Davis
(1)Vince Carter vs. (8) Antonio Davis: The man who earned the nickname Air Canada is easily the most talented player to play for Toronto. However, just as quickly as the city embraced him, it was just as quick to disown him when he pouted his way to New Jersey in a trade that devastated the franchise. Even though Davis was an All-Star during his playing time in Toronto and continues to be appreciated by fans, there's no doubt Carter had a larger impact on the franchise. I easily give the edge to Carter.
(4) Morris Peterson vs. (5) Alvin Williams: This is one of the few matchups where fans will like both options. Peterson returned to Toronto last weekend and was embraced by the fans while Williams has been on Toronto's coaching staff the past few seasons. Both players left the team on good terms and had a lasting impact on the franchise. While Williams was loved because of his heart and leadership, he didn't have quite the impact that Peterson had on the court or the same kind of longevity. Peterson ranks first in games played, 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted. He is also second in minutes played and steals. I'm giving the slight edge to Peterson.
(2) Chris Bosh vs. (7) Andrea Bargnani: Here's where things get interesting. If you were to talk to fans at the Air Canada Centre or hit up message boards and ask which current or former Raptor they loathe, I guarantee Bosh and Bargnani would be near the top of the list. The ironic thing is Bosh leads or is near the top of all the franchise records, while Bargnani isn't too far behind. Bargnani is second in made 3-point field goals and attempts, third in made field goals and free throw attempts, fourth in games played, and fifth in minutes played. The big knock on Bargnani is he doesn't rebound, yet he still ranks third all-time in rebounds. Even though I just tried to sell Bargnani, the obvious and easy pick here is Bosh.
(3) Jose Calderon vs. (6) Damon Stoudamire: Calderon ranks in the top three in games played and leads the team in assists but besides that, he hasn't done a lot to help the team win games. You know, the reason they actually play the game. Calderon's defense was always a question mark and his reluctance to shoot when open allowed teams to sag off of him. Stoudamire, despite all his warts, helped hockey fans fall in love with the game of basketball. He was named Rookie of the Year and instantly claimed the hearts of pint-sized fans. I'm going to make a controversial call here and have Stoudamire advance instead of Calderon.
(1) Vince Carter vs. (4) Morris Peterson: Sorry, but this is no contest. The two were former teammates and even though Peterson left on good terms, Carter's impact far exceeds Peterson's. Heck, you can even buy Carter's argument that basketball in Toronto would have had the same fate as in Vancouver if he hadn't been here . Can Peterson say the same thing? No. I'm giving the edge to Carter.
(2) Chris Bosh vs. (6) Damon Stoudamire: Trust me, I was tempted to give Stoudamire the edge here. However, Bosh stuck around a lot longer that Mighty Mouse and Toronto's record books prove it. Bosh ranks first or second in minutes played, made field goals, free-throw attempts, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, blocks, and points. There's no way I could keep Bosh out of the final.
(1) Vince Carter vs. (2) Chris Bosh: Yes, I know it's anti-climatic to have the top two seeds meet in the finals, but have any other players meant more to basketball in Toronto? Carter is viewed as public-enemy No. 1 in Toronto, but he is the player every basketball fan attaches to the city.
Even with the Game 7 debacle against Philadelphia or the pouting to get his way out of town, Carter is still head and shoulders above anyone else to put on a Raptors jersey. He put Toronto on the map with his dunk contest win and being the prominent member of the best teams in the history of the franchise. What did Bosh ever do in Toronto besides rack up stats on teams that never went anywhere? Not much. At least Carter took the team to the cusp of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ryan McNeill lives in Toronto and has covered the Raptors for the past five season with media passes. You can follow him on twitter @ryanmcneill.
- Sports & Recreation
- Toronto Raptors
- Chris Bosh
- Vince Carter
- Damon Stoudamire
- Andrea Bargnani
- Morris Peterson
- Jose Calderon