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Toronto's road to the NBA All-Star Game

Toronto's road to the NBA All-Star Game

Posted by PanamericanWorld on February 10, 2016

When the Air Canada Centre hosts the All-Star Game on Sunday (February 14), all eyes will be on us. For long-suffering Raptors fans, it will be a time for celebration.

A couple of decades ago, players would do almost anything to avoid playing north of the border. Toronto still isn’t every American star’s destination of choice, but its reputation as a basketball backwater is long gone. The Raps are headed for their third playoffs in as many seasons. Maybe they can even win a round this time. 

It’s time to show off our city and reflect on the long road we’ve tra-velled. Here’s an All-Star history of the Toronto Raptors. 

1995/1996: Toronto’s star player is a 5-foot-10 point guard nicknamed Mighty MouseHe wears a Jurassic Park-like cartoon dinosaur on his jersey. The team plays out of the much-too-large SkyDome and finishes with a win-loss record of 21-61. But kudos to Mighty Mouse, aka Damon Stoudamire, who plays in the All-Star Rookie Game. And to the Raptors for handing the formidable Chicago Bulls one of their only 10 losses on the way to another NBA championship.

2000: Vinsanity takes off when Vince Carter becomes the first Toronto Raptor selected for the All-Star team. He has the most votes of any player in the NBA, almost 2 million, and puts in a solid effort for the East squad. But his big moment comes in what is arguably the most memorable dunk contest of all time, when he completes a 360 windmill dunk. Alongside him for the dunk contest is his on-court partner-in-crime, distant cousin and best friend, Tracy McGrady.

February 2001: The Raptors are in the midst of their best season. People tend to forget that centre Antonio Davis joined Carter on the All-Star team that year. The Raptors enjoy their best playoff run ever, winning the first round agasint the New York Knicks, and coming up one bucket short of the Eastern Conference championship in Game 7 loss to Philadelphia. (Carter’s jumper at the buzzer bounced off the rim, crushing the hearts of Canadians everywhere.)

The mid-aughtsToronto’s reputation as an okay city to play in is on the rise thanks to an enterprising party plannerMona Halem is becoming famous for throwing the right kind of parties for athletes, especially visiting NBA teams. 

December 2004: It’s the end of an era when Carter is traded to the New Jersey Nets. For the Raptors, a disappointing return to league irrele-vance . 

February 2007: The new face of the franchise is Chris Bosh. He becomes the second Raptor voted to the All-Star Game as a starter after playing in the game as a reserve the year before. The East loses, but he contributes 11 points in 22 minutes. 

September 2013: Drake, by now an international superstar and a court-side regular at home games, becomes a “global ambassador” for the team, though nobody knows what that meansLending the franchise some cool cred and a boost from his brand, the play, meant to bolster the popularity of the stagnant franchise, seems to work. On the same day, Toronto is officially announced as host of the 2016 All-Star Game. The Raptors go on to their best season ever. 

February 2014: DeMar DeRozan appears on the cover of NOW Magazine. He plays in his first-ever All-Star Game in New Orleans, selected as a reserve, and puts up 8 points in 15 minutes.

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April 2014: The Raptors organization debuts the We The North marketing campaign. It becomes the team’s new slogan. A major PR win.

April-May 2014: The Raptors’ first playoff run since 2008 ends in a heart-wrenching game-seven home loss to the hated Brooklyn Nets. 

April 2015: The Raptors get swept 4-0 by the Wizards in the team’s most embarrassing playoff series in history. First-round knock-outs at the hands of Paul Pierce two years in a row? To borrow from Drake, that’s going back to back. But not in a good way.

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