Toronto Raptors: A look back at other firsts in franchise history

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 09: DeMar DeRozan
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 09: DeMar DeRozan /
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Positives from the inaugural season

Although it was a pretty bad season for the team, there were a number of positives storylines in the Toronto Raptors’ inaugural campaign.

The Raptors finished third in attendance in the NBA, with an average of 23,178 fans (950,330 in total). Playing in the cavernous SkyDome certainly helped skew those numbers, as attendance would spike for marquee matchups, but overall there appeared to be a solid fanbase for Canada’s first NBA franchise.

Stoudamire’s rookie campaign gave Raptors fans something to cheer for, in what was an otherwise fairly forgettable season. The 5 foot 10 point guard, who gained the nickname “Mighty Mouse,” averaged 19 points, 9.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 77 games.

And possibly the biggest upset of the season was on Mar. 24, when the Raptors upset Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls (who were en route to their first of three consecutive NBA titles). Chicago entered the contest 60-17, while Toronto was only 17-49.

Before that Sunday afternoon game at the SkyDome, the Raptors had struggled against Chicago, losing all three contests, being outscored 322-301 in total. But the Raptors played up to their opponents that day, sneaking out a 109-108 victory in front of 36,131 fans.

Stoudamire led Toronto with 30 points and 11 assists and was only outscored by Jordan, who put up 36. Doug Smith from the Toronto Star recalled how Jordan was unable to keep up with the Raptors’ rookie during the game.

"Stoudamire was the undisputed leader. The Raptors guard took every loss personally, and it wasn’t unusual to see him near tears after any number of close-but-not-good-enough performances. He battled all comers. “Damon Stoudamire was being guarded by Michael Jordan the entire series (of games between the teams) and Michael couldn’t keep up with Damon as far as quickness and speed goes,” then Raptors head coach Brendan Malone said."

It was a memorable day for the franchise, in what many would recall as a modern day David vs. Goliath scenario.