Player Haters Ball: The Five Most Despised Raptors Of All Time

Brett FulmoreCorrespondent INovember 24, 2008

5. Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas is the only individual on our rankings who never actually suited up for the Raps, but the negative impact he had on the franchise and the hatred in which fans hold for him is high enough to get him on our list. 

Shortly after the announcement that the NBA was coming to Canada in the form of franchises for Vancouver and Toronto, Isiah Thomas emerged as a part-owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Raptors. It seemed like a slam-dunk. 

These were the days before Thomas was considered a sexual-harassing, CBA crashing, bad coaching, poor managing, throw-your-own-daughter-under-the-bus type of guy. He was a Hall of Famer, one of the 50 greatest players in history and appeared to have a business savvy that few could match.

Thomas started out fine, helping draft Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady in his first two years with the Raptors. But when his bid to buy a majority of the team began to sputter, Thomas packed up and bolted out of town faster than you can say "accidental sleep medication overdose."

Thomas' departure left the team in disarray and led to Damon Stoudamire requesting a trade shortly thereafter. Any type of momentum that the Raptors had built up in their first two and a half years was brought to a definitive halt. 

When Thomas returned in 2003 as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, he once again drew the ire of Raptors fans when he got involved in a dust-up between Al Harrington and Morris Peterson. The two exchanged words and a shoving match ensued before Thomas sprinted onto the court to go after Mo-Pete. Lenny Wilkens ended up holding him back like a Jerry Springer security guard while Thomas uttered threats at Peterson. What a jerk.

Needless to say, I experienced a strange sense of satisfaction while watching Zeke's career spiral down into the toilet. Does that make me a bad person? Probably. What can I say? I guess I'm just a hateful dude. 

4. Rafael Araujo

"Hoffa" elicits a different kind of hate than the other people on this list.

He never turned his back on the city. He didn't demand a trade out of town or embarass the team with his off the court antics. He never isolated or feuded with teammates although he very well could have been trying to, it's just that no one could understand his broken English so they let it slide. He was just plain terrible. Horrendous even.

I still remember the night when the Raps selected Araujo in the 2004 draft. Andre Iguodola, widely considered to be a top five prospect that year, had slid down a few spots and was available when Toronto went on the clock with the 8th overall pick. I thought he was a lock. 

A few moments later, David Stern waddled over to the podium and announced, "With the eighth overall pick in the 2004 NBA entry draft, the Toronto Raptors select...Rafael Araujo."

Welcome to the Rob Babcock era in Toronto. 

Babs would later go on to cement his legacy as one of the worst general managers of all time with some other equally-as-boneheaded moves, but this was his first big splash and arguably (although their is plenty of competition) his worst. Not only did he miss the opportunity to draft one of the more promising players in the draft, but he looked him over for a 25-year old center who was a borderline first-rounder at best. 

Despite the Raptors insistence on starting Hoffa over the next two seasons, probably to somehow justify Babcock's selection and prevent a fire-wielding mob from storming his neighbourhood, Araujo was as big of a flop as we all initially feared. 

He'd average less than three points and three rebounds per game in his two seasons in Toronto, with the Raptors record during that span being as disappointing as their starting center. This was arguably the lowest point for the franchise, a period of time that the Araujo pick became somewhat of a centerpiece for. 

Next time you see a Toronto fan, ask him about the man they called Hoffa. They might laugh, they might cry. They might start shaking uncontrollably before plowing their fist through a nearby window. The only thing I can guarantee is that you won't hear anything nice.

3. Damon Stoudamire
Stoudamire provided a lot of firsts for Raptors fans. 
He was the team's first ever draft pick, and shortly after, he would become the first Raptor to win a post-season award by snagging Rookie of the Year honors. He was a top 10 assist guy during all three years in the T-Dot, providing the team with a star to build around.
But when the aforementioned Isiah Thomas left town during the 1997-98 season, Mighty Mouse was quick to follow. He demanded a trade immediately after Thomas split the scene, forcing Toronto to move him to the Blazers for what can only be described as, a mixed bag of crap. 
Stoudamire would become the first of many Raptors players over the years who would force management's hand and demand a trade out of Canada. When it comes to such infamy, fans usually remember the first and the last...and in this case, Stoudamire started a trend that has crippled the franchise ever since. 
2. Rafer Alston
When Alston washed up on the shore in Raptorland during the 2002-03 season, there was little to smile about as a supporter of the franchise.
Vince Carter and Antonio Davis, our two best players, missed significant periods of time that season. Lenny Wilkens could barely stay conscious for an entire game and at one time or another during the season, the following players donned a Raptors uniform:

Zendon Hamilton, Art Long, Nate Huffman, Damone Brown, Mamadou N'diaye, Michael Bradley, Chris Jefferies, Jelani McCoy, Greg Foster, and Jermaine Jackson (Tito was always a better defender, by the way).
So when Alston emerged as a sparkplug during the second half of the season, turning a 10-day contract into 47 games in the process, the fans rallied behind him. His stats were modest (about eight points and four helpers per game), but the style and excitement he brought to the ACC was much more important. It was a small victory in a season where they were very scarce.
After spending the following year in Miami, Alston would return to Toronto in 2004-05 with a freshly inked five-year contract in hand. This wasn't the same Skip to My Lou that captivated the T-Dot audience only a year earlier however. 
His second stint with the Raptors was a disaster from the start. Stories about Alston's poor attitude swirled all season long, but a string of events involving Sam Mitchell in the winter months brought things to a whole new low.
The story goes like this: Alston and Mitchell had developed quite a hate for each other throughout the season, beginning with Mitchell benching his point guard in a December game after picking up a technical foul. Alston said after the game that he didn't want to be in Toronto and was even considering quitting the NBA because of the incident. 
Things seemed to settle down until late January when Alston stormed from a Raptors practice, picking up a two game suspension for his outburst. Now, this is where things get a little crazy...
In his first game back from that suspension, the two clashed again in the first quarter of a game against Cleveland, resulting in Alston taking a prolonged seat on the pine. Alston would not emerge from the locker room for the second half and was seen being whisked into the team bus (crying like a bitch I might add) during the fourth quarter. 
Reports emerged afterwards that the two exchanged much more than four-letter words and petty insults during the halftime fracas. A Raptors security guard was quoted that the two engaged in a "fist fight" with Mitchell getting the better of the exchange (that explains the tears). 
If there's a sure-fire way to get yourself traded, "throwing down with your head coach" ranks pretty high on the list, wouldn't you say? To no one's surprise, Alston was shipped to Houston that summer for Mike James... But the damage had already been done. Toronto finished 33-49 and Alston took his place among the most hated Raptors of all time.

1. Vince Carter

I had this article almost complete on Thursday night, but I hadn't gotten around to the finishing touches until today. 

Well it just so happens that in between Thursday night and Monday Morning, the hate in which I hold for Vince Carter grew exponentially. I decided to scrap what I had for Vince and start over. How couldn't I?

VC's performance on Friday night in Toronto not only took my loathing of Carter to previously unreached levels, it also made me begin to question my faith in sports. 

There's nothing else I can think of that VC could have done on Friday to have screwed over the Raptors and their fans any more, nor can I think of anyone else who deserved to do it less. Apparently the rules of karma do not apply to Vince. 

I guess I forgot how much I actually disliked the dude. How he watched the team destruct while openly tanking it and pursuing his own personal agenda. The whining. His loud-mouthed mother. The fact that the Raptors got close to nothing in the trade with NJ.

I was starting to forget all of the drama, my heart softening ever so slightly to the point where I could even watch a Nets highlight package without the urge to burn a UNC No. 15 jersey on my front lawn. 

Well, needless to say...Friday night re-opened old wounds and revitalized my utter hatred for the man.

Vince Carter can go screw himself. 

VC's latest chapter in Toronto has firmly placed him amongst the greatest villains in Canadian Sports history. Arguably the biggest disappointment in our country's sport scene since Ben Johnson, I'm starting to wonder if he's been placed in the league to single-handedly destroy the Raptors franchise. Because a few more years of this and I actually might not be able to take it any more.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be out on the lawn. 

Honorable Mention: Doug Christie, Marcus Camby, John Wallace, Tracy McGrady, Antonio Davis, Hakeem Olajuwon, Eric Williams, Carlos Delfino.


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