On Tuesday, Andrew Unterberger wrote an intriguing piece for The Basketball Jones, looking at the players whose jerseys have been retired, should be retired or may be retired by the various Eastern Conference teams in the NBA.

To no one’s surprise, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh made the list for the Raptors, only they made it under the “possibly” category, with no former Raptor in the “definitely” category, and deservedly so.

With Unterberger’s post sure to stir up discussion and debate among the 15 Eastern Conference fan bases, it obviously got me thinking about which players should even be considered for some sort of jersey honouring or retiring in Toronto.

Given the fact that we’re talking about a franchise that has just four winning seasons and five playoff trips in 17 years of existence, there won’t be that many names to consider. Having said that, Toronto has seen its fair share of stars walk through the Air Canada Centre tunnel in purple, red or black.

I’ll start by saying this. I think that a player should play at least three seasons, if not more, in one city to be considered for any type of team honour. Given the usual 82-game schedule in the NBA, this means that players should play somewhere in the neighbourhood of 246 games with one team to garner consideration.

This already eliminates players like Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby and fan-favourites like Jerome Williams, Donyell Marshall and Charles Oakley (though Oakley did play over 200 games with the Raptors).

Anthony Parker just misses the cut with 235 games played and though Joey Graham may have played 275 games as a Raptor, unless we’re creating an All-Disappointment team, I don’t think we’re talking about Joey G.

That leaves us with eight players – Antonio Davis, Doug Christie, Andrea Bargnani, Vince Carter, Alvin Williams, Jose Calderon, Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson – to even consider honouring.

While Andrea Bargnani may go down as a top-five player in franchise history or higher when his career is done, I don’t believe we’ve seen enough of “Andrea the All Star” as of yet to declare his candidacy for a jersey honouring. That might change in a couple of years, but not yet.

Doug Christie played parts of five seasons with the Raptors and was a member of the Raps teams that first established roots in Toronto. He was an underrated player, a great defender and should be remembered fondly by Raptors fans for years to come. But Christie made his escape from Toronto just as the team was really getting off the ground and never took part in major team success in T.O., other than the first playoff trip in 2000. As much as I liked Doug, I don’t think he’s jersey honouring material.

Antonio Davis is one of only three All Stars in franchise history, played over four seasons (310 games) in Toronto, averaged about 13 points, nine rebounds and over a block per game here and more importantly, was a key piece of the most successful period in team history.

If you read my Ultimate Raptors Rankings post on Alvin Williams or listened to our interview with him as part of RaptorBlog Radio, you know how highly we regard “Boogie.”

Then you have arguably the most beloved Raptor of all time and the man who played more games north of the 49th than anyone else – Morris Peterson.

If you ask me, Davis, Williams and Peterson represent the quintessential Raptors résumés for jersey honouring consideration, but not for jersey retiring. If the Raptors ever go the way of the Maple Leafs and either just don’t retire numbers (other than Ace Bailey’s and Bill Barilko’s) or do a mix of retiring and honouring numbers, then those three names should be near the top of the list.

Jose Calderon is in his seventh season with the Raptors and with 459 games played (third all time in Toronto), could become the franchise’s all time leader in games as early as next season, provided he stays healthy and isn’t traded by then. Calderon has averaged about 10 points and seven assists over his career, is the franchise leader in assists and has been an integral component of two of the franchise’s five playoff teams. For the most part, he’s been an above average player at his position and even got some All Star consideration and buzz for a couple of seasons, though he ultimately fell short. Like the three players I mentioned above, I don’t think Calderon has done enough to have his numero ocho retired, but as of right now, you might be able to make the argument that he is more of an “honour” candidate than anyone not named Bosh or Carter.

Speaking of those who shall not be named, there is no doubt in my mind that at some point, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh should have their Raptors accomplishments celebrated, whether by just raising a banner to the rafters or flat out retiring numbers four and 15.

They scored 19,695 points in Toronto between the two of them, were both selected to five All Star games as Raptors and combined to garner three All NBA selections (one second-team selection for Bosh, a second-team and third-team selection for Carter) while playing in Canada.

Perhaps most impressive of all, Basketball Reference’s “Elo Player Rating” ranks them both among the top 100 players of all time…seriously.

Whether you want to admit it or not, we’re talking about two guys who will get some Hall of Fame consideration. For a franchise that’s been low on success and has often been an NBA punch-line through its first 17 seasons, that’s as good as it gets.

To summarize, here’s how I would consider some of the best and most memorable Raptors players in terms of jersey honouring:

Definitely Retire: N/A

Consider Jersey Retirement/Definitely Honour: Chris Bosh and Vince Carter

Consider Honouring: Jose Calderon, Antonio Davis, Morris Peterson, Alvin Williams

Bobblehead Night and Video Tribute: Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Doug Christie, Charles Oakley, Jerome Williams

Just A Bobblehead: Donyell Marshall, Marcus Camby

What do you think of this list, and which category do you think guys like Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan will finish their Raptors careers in?

Comments (25)

  1. I think regardless of how he left, Vince will eventually be welcomed back. Realistically, we all hate him for the end but would the Raptors even be here if VC hadn’t come through and become the biggest non-hockey superstar in this town since Alomar? I don’t think so. For that, I think (somewhat reluctantly from a fans view) number 15 should go up to the rafters.

  2. Really are you serious. Bosh and Carter to get any sort of hall of fame consideration is a pretty big stretch. Really dont see any player that would deserve any sort of tribute.

    • I don’t think Bosh gets in, but VC has nearly 21,000 career points, which will weigh heavily in his favour. Even if they both miss out, I stand by the fact that someone will throw both of their names out there as potential HOF candidates, especially if Bosh can win a ring or two in Miami.

  3. Chris Bosh, I highly doubt gets HOF consideration, especially at this point in his career. He’s proven he’s not really a number one guy, and now plays the #3 guy on Miami. Hardly HOF worthy IMO.

    Vince Carter, as much as we hate him, COULD be one of the reasons Toronto still has an NBA team instead of Vancouver. The years we had with Vinsanity were by far my favourite years watching the Raptors. It’s too bad things had to end the way they did with him, or else the city would still support him if he had just left via free agency. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed, but he is certainly worthy of being on the list of the greatest players to never win a championship right now.

    Also, according to BasketballReference.com, as of now Vince Carter has an 84% chance of being in the HOF.

    • Just to take issue with one point, as someone who personally lived through Vancouver losing it’s NBA team, there is no comparison between Toronto and Vancouver. Toronto is a top five NBA market, the corporate headquarters for most Canadian companies and is a more lucrative NBA city than more than half the league. EVen in it’s early years, thee is simply too much money and too much of a population base to even consider moving the team. Especially since there is no current American city (throughout the Raptors 17 years) that is even nearly attractive a city to host an NBA team.

      Vancouver, which I think got majorly screwed, was a borderline NBA city, when it got awarded a team, and has never had great attendance for it’s sports teams.

      • It’s a top 5 market maybe as far as profitability. And I think that’s due large in part to Vince Carter’s contributions to the NBA in the city. Without that, who knows where the team would be right now.

        No matter what, it’s still a bottom 5 market as to where players would prefer to play. There’s a big difference between the two.

        A franchise may be profitable, but if it doesn’t have the ability to lure in players that can win, and the appeal to keep them, it doesn’t matter what city the team is in.

        • Toronto is a big enough city, with passionate enough sports fans to easily support an NBA city, whether or not VInce Carter came along or not.

          And where players want to play is essentially moot, in terms of profitability. Most teams can’t lure free agents. The one’s that can are either one of the rarified few (Lakers, New York, Miami, Boston) or a contender.

          Toronto is in the same boat as 20-25 other teams in the league. If they aren’t a contender, then they aren’t luring anyone.

          Luring free agents is overrated, anyway. Most good players are either drafted or traded for.

          • Whether a city is big enough or not doesn’t mean its going to be able to keep a sports team. There’s plenty of US NBA markets larger than Toronto that can’t support the NBA, but have a team. There are also plenty of US NBA markets that are smaller than Toronto, and can.

            The size of the NBA market is only half the problem. The other half of the problem lies on whether or not a player likes the city, or in this case, the country. All players become free agents at some point, and have the ability to choose where they want to play. You don’t have to be a huge fan on the NBA to realize that good players don’t stay in Toronto when they can get the same pay day anywhere else.

            If Toronto had not drafted its players like Vince Carter, you can’t say the fan base in Toronto would be even near what it is today. If they had managed the team as bad as Vancouver was early on, it’s very much possible that they suffer the same fate and move south of the border. It’s only because it’s one of the most profitable organizations in the NBA right now, that the league and owners would be dumb to move it.

            As you said, most good players are either drafted or traded. But ALL players become free agents at some point, and that’s were Toronto will never succeed. The 29 other NBA teams will ALWAYS have advantage over Toronto because of that.

          • I agree with Tim. Players want to play either on one of the historical NBA Teams (Celtics, Knicks, Lakers) or they want to be on a contender. No different then players wanting to play for the Yankees or Chi Sox. The Blue Jays didn’t have any problems attracting all-stars in the early 90′s when they were winning. It’s a BS comment that Raptors will never be able to lure big names. You watch too much ESPN.

          • BP,

            All you need to do to keep most free agents is win. Not one of the major players that left Toronto did so because it was in Canada. Not one.

            And Toronto supports sports teams. Always have, always will. Toronto is a much more viable NBA city than half the current NBA cities. It simply would never make any economic sense to move the team out of Toronto. Comparing Vancouver and Toronto is like comparing Seattle and Chicago.

            You also have to realize that Raptor attendance has remained fairly constant over the 17 years (apart from the year they were at the Skydome).

            Take a look at Toronto attendance…
            Then take a look at Vancouver’s…

            However much I think Vancouver could have supported the Grizzlies, there’s really no comparison. Vancouver has, historically, had trouble getting fans out to sporting events. If the team isn’t winning, people simply don’t go.

            Besides, without Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady possibly ends up staying, and starring, in Toronto.

        • DB, what does ESPN have anything to do with it? It’s just straight facts from following them forever.

          The Blue Jays are a different team, a different sport, different types of players. Can’t compare baseball to basketball, it’s just not the same. Just like comparing the NHL to the NBA.

          Obviously I’m well aware of guys like Jose Bautista signing long term to stay in TO, im also well aware it was on Prince FIelder’s list of teams. In fact, I believe he would have signed with Toronto if they had given him a decent contract to work with. But NBA players are much different.

          Name one big name player that the Raptors have ever lured in to Toronto as a free agent, even in their better days. Hedo Turkoglu is about as good as it gets for free agents. Everyone else was either drafted or traded away.

          • The Raptors have never been a contender, so luring free agents is difficult, but that’s the case for the majority of the NBA who aren’t contenders.

            Besides, you don’t need to lure good free agents to be a contender. You just need to keep the players you acquire and creating a winning and respected atmosphere will do that.

          • But they were a contendor when they had Carter, McGrady, Davis, Oakley, WIlliams. They were a great young team. Much like the Thunder are today, had two of the best young players in the game, and a bright future.

            They were in fact, one game away from making it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2000-2001. They went to a game 7 vs Philadelphia in the second round and lost by ONE point. Ever since then, it’s been all down hill.

            Yes, I am totally on board with the idea of tanking to land good draft picks and build a good team. But the problem is still most players don’t like the idea of living in Canada. Which makes keeping them almost as hard as it is signing them as free agents.

          • I don’t think I’d ever call a team than never won more than 47 games a contender. I think the Raptors had the POTENTIAL to be a contender, but never were. They had a good playoff run in 2001, but the fact of the matter is they never made it out of the second round and only made it past the first round once. I’d compare the 2001 team to the Grizzlies in the last playoffs. A decent team that just happened to matchup well with their opponents in the playoffs. It also helped that they were in a very weak conference.

            They had three things that did them in and prevented them from becoming a contender.

            The first is McGrady leaving due to feeling underused by Butch Carter (which he was) and wanting to get out of the shadow of Vince. He left after the team had won 45 games and got swept in the playoffs by New York.

            The second is that Grunwald acquired a lot of veterans who only had two or three good years left. It was a way for the Raptors to compete more quickly, but it meant a smaller window for success and difficulty replacing them when they hit the wall.

            Lastly, Vince’s injuries slammed the door on any chance of the Raptors becoming a contender.

          • Veterans with 2-3 years left? No…only Oakley was that old, but not the rest of the team. The starting lineup was actually fairly young, with a mostly veteran bench, as it should be. Williams, Carter, Peterson, Davis, Oakley.

            The Memphis Grizzlies? Nah, they don’t have a franchise player like Carter was. More like an old Cleveland Cavaliers team with a young LeBron James.

          • Oakley, Kevin Willis, Antonio Davis, and even Hakeem Olajuwon for big men. As well as Dell Curry and Mark Jackson. All were integral parts to the Raptor’s success. By the time they were Raptors, they were past their prime and all retired before Vince hit the age of 27, the normal peak for NBA players.

            As for the Grizzlies, it’s not the point that they don’t have a franchise player (which I agree with, unless Rudy Gay suddenly turns a corner), but the fact is they are a good comparison to the Raptors for 2001. The Grizzlies won 46 games as compared to 47 for the Raptors. Both had a good run that took them to the verge of making the Conference Finals. Both teams matched up particularly well against their opponents, which made them seem bette than they actually were. Neither were actual contenders, though.

            The main difference is that, because of Vince (and McGrady before he left) the Raptors had the potential to, one day, become a contender.

            Again, no team that wins less than 50 games should ever be considered a contender*.

            * The Houston Rockets won the title after only winning 47 games in ’95, but they had won the title the season before, had the best player in the league, at the time, and majorly underachieved as a team during the regular season.

          • Whether you agree with me or not, that Raptors team was a contender. Any team with the pieces to win can be considered a contender. Toronto had the pieces to win that particular year, and could therefore be considered a contending team by any means.

            Please do not get it confused with me saying they were a potential dynasty (which, I agree they would have been with both McGrady and Carter), because I believe that’s what you’re pointing out, but I am not. I fully agree, management moves took away that possibility of being a dynasty.

            Regardless of the roster moves made after THAT year, regardless of Vince getting injured/giving up after THAT year means absolutely nothing.

            Whether or not they had a couple players in their high 30’s, they had guys still in their prime like Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams who made this team just as capable of winning as anyone else that year. Not to mention, Antonio Davis was an All-Star that year as well.

            While I don’t think they would have won the championship against a stacked LA team, that team, could have easily went on to the NBA finals and at least won a game or two that year if they had beaten Philadelphia in that game 7. Who, also was the best team in the conference that year (even if you consider it to be weak). The fact is, they had, at the time one of the best players in the NBA in Carter.

            Whether a team has 50 wins or 47 wins, means absolutely nothing. By your reasoning, winning an extra three games with that exact same team puts them into that title contention? That simply does not make sense.

            Boston Celtics of 2009, were only 50-32 and lost in the finals 4-3. The 07-08 Cavaliers, widely considered a contender, were only 47-35. The 06-07 Cavaliers, only 50-32, went to the finals, and were contenders. The 2006 Miami Heat, were only 52-30, and they were the champs. I could go on with many more teams around the same win mark who were contenders and had great playoff runs.

            Now, why I compare the old Cavaliers team with the Raptors team is simply because they were built very similar. A team built around one young superstar player, and a mix of veteran and young players with them. They went plenty of seasons with 50 or less wins, and were widely considered a contender because of James alone, no matter what their record was.

          • I never saw that 2001 team as a contender. I never saw them getting to the FInals, just as I never saw Memphis getting to the Finals.

            As for Boston and Cleveland, both had previously reached the FInals and had proven that they had the talent to do so. Both team underachieved in the regular season (Boston due to injury), but everyone knew with the talent they had, they would be dangerous in the playoffs.

            Toronto won a team record 47 games and barely beat a ragtag New York team in the first round.

            Vince Carter was still only 24 and the team needed another season or two before I would have seriously considered them a contender.

            And unlike the Cavs, Carter was not a serious MVP candidate. He was more exciting than great. Unlike LeBron, who became one of the best defenders, as well as scorer, Vince was still a mediocre defender. Why I bring this up is because LeBron made the Cavs a contender by simply being on the team. Carter simply wasn’t that good. He possibly had the potential to be, but he never was.

            And the Cavs were poorly built, which is one reason LeBron ended up leaving. I do agree that the two teams were similarly built, but I think both teams were hurt by it.

  4. Vince – despite his accomplishments – doesn’t get his number in the ACC rafters. He whined, asked to be traded, then played his way out of town. He was a hell of a basketball talent, but players should be honoured because of their conduct both on and off the court.

    Bosh possibly, but Vince no.

  5. I guess Bosh and Carter could be honoured (I don’t think MLSE retires numbers anyway) 10-15 years down the line or something but I always hate it when teams (especially relatively newer ones like the Raptors) try to create history instead of just letting it happen just because they feel it will give them some weird type of credibility around the league.

    We’ve been a joke for two decades, if we correct it and build a winner then a question like this will answer itself.

  6. It really bothers me when teams force retiring player’s jerseys. It should be difficult to have your jersey retired. And it should mean something. Carter was a great player, but he only lead the team to the playoffs three times, and his exit gave the team a black eye. That shouldn’t be rewarded.

    Bosh couldn’t get his team out of the first round when they did make the playoffs. That also shouldn’t be rewarded.

    And rewarding fan favourites of a mediocre team just highlights the fact that the Raptors have had little success. It just reeks of desperation.

    I’m also of the belief that three years is not long enough. Unless a player wins an MVP award or leads the team to a Championship, 5 years should be the minimum. Three years is a stopover. 5 years is more of a career.

    Don’t retire a jersey because you haven’t retired one, yet. Wait until a deserving player comes along. Protect the legacy, even when there isn’t much of one.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. It just seems too desperate right now, and 10 or so years down the road they’ll be wondering why in the world they were so quick to do it.

      Retiring a jersey is the ultimate sign of respect a team or city has for a player. I think its should be a little more deserving other than just making the playoffs or being a fan favourite for a few years.

    • Great post.

      I wouldn’t go as far as to put specific provisions on what it should take to retire/honour a jersey because that is decided on a player by player basis and even on a franchise to franchise basis but the gimmick itself is really wearing thin especially over the last 2 decades as younger franchises have felt more pressure to make history instead of just letting it happen.

      The Raptors would just look bad no matter what they do (honoring players that didn’t want to play here is just as stupid as it would be to honor bit players like Alvin and JYD just so you can allude to the pathetic high point of the franchise in the early 2000s) so they might as well just shelve the ridiculous idea.

  7. just a heads-up, that Elo ranking has Vince Carter (67) ranked above Kobe Bryant (86) – not to mention Grant Hill ranked at 41st of all time.

  8. No way should Carter make it to Hall of Fame, his effort is not worthy, here in TO or elsewhere, he should still be a starter and a star but settles for coming off the bench and collecting a pay cheque. Bosh I’m not crazy about but he does have heart and puts in the effort, laugh at him for crying but he CARES! I can see hime becoming a HOFer but he disrespected the city, the team, the fans No Honours for him in TO.

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