Did you hear? An NBA player is out for revenge against his former team! That only happens a dozen or so times a year. But this year it’s different for Raptors fans, as it’s our longtime franchise icon and all time leader in 10 different categories, who’s still very much in the prime of his career, that is seeking vengeance upon our favourite team.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) September 20, 2018
DeMar DeRozan’s tweet led me to wonder about past Raptor “revenge” games. We haven’t had too many players leave here angry, as DeRozan did; most couldn’t wait to leave, or were traded to better situations. Still, everyone likes to show their old team what they’re missing, right?
What I discovered, though, is that—although there were some thrilling games played— none of the actual traded players will be submitting their game logs to Springfield. Let’s take a look at the notable ones:
Best “Well, at Least he Didn’t Hit the Game-Winner”: Jalen Rose
Rose didn’t have a great shooting night in his Raptors revenge game, but he did get to the line 12 times (hitting 11) against the Raptors on February 15, 2006. It was teammate Jamal Crawford who hit the game-winning shot in a two-point Knicks victory. You won’t believe it, but Mike James shot five of the Raptors’ final six shots, including a three-pointer that rimmed out at the buzzer.
Best One-on-One battle: Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady wasn’t traded, but I’m making an exception here because this game featured a thrilling final minute in which T-Mac hit a potential game-winner with 15 seconds left, and then Vince Carter tied the game on a 15-footer 10 seconds later. A final McGrady buzzer-beater rimmed out, but Orlando would go on to win in double OT. McGrady shot 9-of-22 and was an uncharacteristically shaky 4-of-12 from the free throw line; Carter also shot poorly but scored 37.
Weirdest Reverse Revenge: Alvin Williams
Here’s a fun one: Alvin Williams was traded for Danny Fortson on February 9, 2000; he failed his physical, and the trade was waived. How would the non-trade affect Williams’ play? Butch Carter wasn’t about to let anyone find out! Before the non-trade, Willams started 28 of the team’s 39 games, and averaged 17.4 minutes a night; after, Butch only played him 4.3 minutes per game! Was Butch getting revenge on Alvin, for Alvin failing his physical? He only cracked double digits once: in the final game of the season, Williams logged a season-high 33. And he played all of one minute in the playoffs. Thankfully, he’d go on to much greater heights under Lenny Wilkens the following season!
Most Cathartic for Raptors fans: Vince Carter
Until DeRozan, Vince Carter was certainly the best Raptor ever traded away, and he clearly wanted out—so in some ways, vengeance should have come from the team he all but quit on. And that’s actually kinda what happened! Carter was sub-par 8-for-25 shooting, for 22 points and a -18 on the night—while the main man he left behind, Jalen Rose, scored 30 on an insane 12-of-15. The Raps won by 18. It felt pretty good.
Carter did score 39 in Toronto later that season, and of course had the infamous buzzer-beating three-pointer as part of a 42-point night the next year. So yeah. He got his, eventually.
Most Exciting Game Overall: Doug Christie
Christie shot 5-14 in his first game against Toronto, a triple-OT thriller that the Kings won 119-118. Peja Stojakovic hit the game-winner (of course). The most insane thing about this game: Seven players played 50+ minutes that night! Vince Carter played all 63. It’s amazing this guy is still standing, let alone still playing in the NBA. Gregg Popovich would break into a cold sweat just looking at that box score.
Best “Too Much Time has Passed, Let’s All Move on” Game: Damon Stoudamire
Stoudamire has the distinction of being the first great player Toronto traded away, but although he was traded before the deadline on February 13, 1998, because of the 1998-1999 lockout, he didn’t play a game against Toronto for almost two full years. Mighty Mouse shot 7-of-11, including 2-of-2 from deep and 6-of-6 from the line for a game-high 22 (and a game-high five assists) as the Blazers easily won by 24 points.
Best Missed Opportunity: Mike James
As Sean Woodley has pointed out, James used his time in Toronto extremely effectively, launching as many shots as possible in a contract year. James wasn’t traded—he left as a free agent—but if anyone would seek revenge for a team not giving him a payday, it would have been James, right? Was he mad that contract didn’t come from Toronto? In his first game against the Raptors the following season, he shot a very respectable 8-of-12 for 20 points in 31.5 minutes.
More importantly though, James had a real chance to swing the game for the Timberwolves—but he couldn’t seal the deal! With eight seconds left the T-Wolves trailing by three points, James rose up behind the arc and was fouled by T.J. Ford. But James missed the second free throw! He hit the other two, but Anthony Parker sealed the Raptors win with two FTs at the other end.
Most Embarrassing Game for the Raptors: Hedo Turkoglu
Turkoglu’s bizarre single season with the Raptors ended when he was traded to Phoenix in the summer of 2010; a couple months later he was traded back to Orlando (for former Raptor Carter and future Raptor Mickael Pietrus!). Eventually that Orlando team played Toronto, and Hedo scored a mere 6 points on 4 shots. Not enough “ball” I guess? But hey, Orlando obliterated the 13-29 Raptors by 40 so the last laugh belongs to him.
Most Embarrassing Game for the Other Guy: Rafer Alston
If anyone should have been seeking revenge, it should have been Alston, who famously feuded with just about everyone in the Raptors organization the previous season. But although he played 35 minutes, he put up a mere 5 shots and only scored two points as the Raptors won by 20. Mike James had one of his most efficient Raptor games, scoring 30 on 17 shots with seven rebounds and eight assists.
Best Overall Performance: Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay has such a laid-back personality the idea of him seeking revenge seems far-fetched. But by my reckoning, Gay had the best all-around game a former Raptor has had against the club, a 24-point, 10-rebound night as the Kings won easily. His old pal DeMar DeRozan struggled, shooting 5-for-17; Terrence Ross was a spectacular -18 in 21 minutes.
Best Performance as a Punching Bag: Charlie Villanueva
If memory serves, Charlie V is one of the few Raptors who wasn’t thrilled about being traded away. He had a solid 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting his first game against Toronto, but he was completely dominated by former frontcourt mate Chris Bosh, who scored 26 (on 12-of-15 shooting), hauled in 15 boards and added two steals and two blocks in a 17-point Raptors win. The eventual Atlantic Division champs would not be denied!
Most “Let’s All Forget this Whole Thing ever Happened” game: Andrea Bargnani
You know, Bargnani didn’t have a terrible start with the Knicks. He never shot the deep ball as well as he should have, but he did average almost 15 a night over his first 25 games. In his first game against the team that drafted him first overall, he shot poorly (6-of-17) but managed to snag 12 boards (I don’t feel like he ever got double-digit rebounds as a Raptor) and block two shots to go with his 18 points. The Raptors, just starting to gel, won by 12 and went on to win the division. Bargnani went on to this:
Did I miss your favourite revenge game, or skip over your favourite ex-Raptor? Share your thoughts in the comments!