Toronto Raptors fans have that sinking feeling. The Raptors are about to lose their marquee player again. This is a road they have been down before. Whether it is Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and now Chris Bosh (likely), all the super star players that have worn the Raptors jersey have left the city and the franchise high and dry.
After being the seventh pick in the 1995 draft, Damon Stoudamire had a great run as a Raptor. Time finally came in 1998 when the team felt it was time to move on and dealt him to the Portland Trail Blazers. Unfortunately, all the Raptors could get back was a couple of role players and some draft picks.
Then came Tracy McGrady. A high school phenom, the Raptors took a chance on the tall lanky, athletic shooting guard with the ninth pick in the 1997 draft.
McGrady was a great asset to the franchise. He sold jerseys and became the face of the team that was building and starting to contend in the NBA. A year later he was paired with Vince Carter and the duo wrecked havoc on the rims at the Air Canada Centre.
Unfortunately, McGrady didn’t like the idea of sharing the floor with the new star in town (and his cousin) Carter, so when free agency finally came calling for McGrady, he decided to leave for greener pastures in Orlando.
Raptors fans felt slighted when McGrady decided to leave the Great White North for the Sunshine State. McGrady had been nurtured in Toronto as he developed from a high school player into a legitimate NBA starter and scoring threat.
By teaming McGrady and Carter together the Raptors made their first playoff appearance and fans could see the tides turning on the franchise. With two marquee players and the cache of having two of the best dunkers, the buzz around the 2000 season was huge.
Unfortunately, with McGrady leaving via free agency the Raptors could only manage a first round draft pick in a sign and trade with the Magic, this made fans just a little angry with McGrady. Upon his return to the Air Canada Center, he was greeted with a chorus of boo’s every time he touched the ball and the public address system paid hefty fines to the NBA so they could play baby crying sounds.
It was fun to have an enemy on an opposing team, but then it happened again.
Only four years later the Raptors fan base had another dilemma on their hand. The team had been struggling, but at least they still had the excitement of Vince Carter.
He was a scorer that could carry the team on any given night…that is until the 2004 season.
Carter’s play tailed off drastically in 2004 and many thought this was because of he did not agree with the direction the team was taking, in rebuilding. Management and fans were under the impression that Carter had quit on the team and then General Manager Rob Babcock pulled the trigger on a trade to New Jersey for three players and a couple of draft picks. Of those players, not one actually ended up playing meaningful minutes for the Raptors.
One of them, Alonzo Mourning decided to retire instead of joining Toronto (only to come out of retirement later).
Again, Raptors fans were jilted by the franchise player and received nothing of value in return. Tracy McGrady was no longer the most hated Raptor, that designation now fell to Carter, especially after an interview he did with John Thompson were he said, "In years past, no. I was fortunate to have the talent. You get spoiled when you're able to do a lot of things. You see that you don't have to work at it."
This was taken by Raptors fans to mean he was not trying his hardest while playing in Toronto. Although, Carter has been gone for almost six seasons and moved teams, he is still booed loudly when he makes an appearance at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto Raptors fans have been bracing for the summer of 2010 for a couple of years now, when the most recent franchise player, Chris Bosh could explore free agency and leave the team for a new start.
So with it all but settled that Bosh will be leaving the Raptors this summer it comes with a couple of questions.
Can the Raptors get anything back for their former star player? In the past, as we saw, the Raptors have not been successful in gaining any compensation for their players. This time fans are hopeful that GM Bryan Colangelo can get something in return for Bosh in a sign and trade. The best case scenario that are being floated around internet rumour boards is Joakim Noah from the Bulls or Michael Beasley from the Heat.
The other burning question is how Raptors fans will treat Bosh when he returns to the Air Canada Center next season. At the moment he will probably get a mix of cheers and boos. Unlike Carter, Bosh tried right up until taking the elbow in the face, so that will earn him the cheers, and unlike McGrady leaving when the team was good, Bosh is leaving when the team is constantly rebuilding and without a real chance to win.
Even though these are points in his favour, Raptors fans cannot help but feel like they have witnessed the development of an NBA superstar to again have him walk away in his prime.
So will Chris Bosh take over as the most hated Raptor player of all time, I don’t think so—that mantle will always belong to Vince Carter. Congrats!