The Ultimate Raptors Rankings are the RaptorBlog editors’ attempt to rank the top 30 Toronto Raptors of all time. These rankings are obviously somewhat arbitrary and endlessly debatable, but they’re based on each player’s contribution, performance and longevity as a Raptor, and on how beloved they are by Raptors fans. We’ll count down a new Raptor every Wednesday on this blog.
Keon Clark’s Raptors résumé:
- Helped Toronto make the playoffs in both his seasons as a Raptor
- Second in Raptors history in blocks per game, minimum 200 blocks (1.8)
- Set franchise record with 12 blocks (in 28 minutes!) on March 23, 2001 against the Atlanta Hawks
Keon Clark wasn’t one of the most accomplished players to ever wear a Raptors uniform, but fans who watched him in Toronto from 2000-2002 would surely agree with me that he was one of the most exciting. He was all lean, coiled, explosive power — equally capable of throwing down a vicious dunk on one end and swatting an opponent’s attempt on the other end. There was very little finesse to his game — those springy legs propelled him higher than his opponents and he brought down righteous and furious anger upon them.
With his height, athleticism and natural ability, you couldn’t help but compare him to another aggressive, athletic stringbean — Kevin Garnett. Back in 2002, Bill Simmons wrote, “There isn’t a more underrated player in the league right now than Keon Clark. I’m not kidding. I keep writing this and nobody listens to me — if he played 40 minutes a game, he’d be a 20/10 guy, night after night. Mark my words.”
Keon’s finest game as a Raptor was one of his last. The Raptors were down two games to one against the Pistons in the best-of-five first round series in 2002, and Clark led the Vince-less Raptors to victory in Game Four with 19 points and 16 rebounds. After the Raptors lost the series in Game Five, Clark signed with the Sacramento Kings for one year plus a player option year, and Raptors fans were left wondering if management knew something about him we didn’t.
Whether they knew or not, the Raptors were smart to get him go. It turned out that Clark was an alcoholic and chronic weed smoker, and he loved those substances more than he loved basketball. “I never played a game sober,” he claimed during a 2007 court hearing in which he admitted to drinking alcohol during halftime of every NBA game.
Clark’s post-NBA career has been spent mostly in and out of prison, and he’s currently serving a 33-month sentence for driving under revocation — something he had been busted for three times previously. Considering that he once said, “Jail ain’t built for 6-9 guys,” you’d think he’d have learned his lesson.
But for all his natural physical gifts, he simply hasn’t been able to shake his personal demons. Perhaps it’s a little more understandable when we learn that Keon’s father is serving a 65-year-sentence for murder. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, even when that apple is rotten.