There are only two teams in the NBA without a jersey retired: the LA Clippers and the Toronto Raptors.
The Orlando Magic have the jersey number "6" retired - no, not for Patrick Ewing - but for their fans, as they retired the number for their sixth man.
There's no question that the Raptors will eventually have a handful of jerseys hanging up at Scotiabank Arena someday and many can guess who deserves to be up there, but what should the order be? Who should get the nod as the first jersey ever retired by the franchise?
Let's take a look at the order of priority the Raptors should immortalize key players and figures.
Others on this list may actually get their jersey retired before his number 7 goes up in the rafters but if things were equal, Lowry's jersey should be the first-ever jersey retired by the Raptors. It was his arrival and subsequent development that transformed the franchise into what it is today - a championship organization. Lowry is the greatest Raptor of all-time and he should be the first to break the ice.
Yes, I know he didn't score a basket or make a great defensive play, but Ujiri's contribution to the Raptors organization is invaluable. We know what he's done on the court for the franchise, building a championship roster, but what he's done off the court can't be overstated. Back in September, Sportsnet's Michael Grange had Ujiri at the top of the 20 most influential Canadian basketball figures list. Ujiri made it cool to be a Raptor fan and in the process poured gasoline on the fire that was already starting to burn within this hockey nation.
If Ujiri made it cool to be a Raptor fan, then Carter made it cool to be a basketball fan. Carter was the perfect player, at the perfect time to introduce the game to so many Canadians across the country. He's the reason many dreamed to one day play in the NBA in Canada and is the reason why so many Canadians now ply their trade in the world's best league. After Ujiri and Lowry, there's no one more deserving to be memorialized in Toronto.
He was only around for one season but he did the impossible. Leonard took the team, city and country to heights it may never reach again in hoops. Before the 2019 NBA Championship, the country hadn't seen a championship from the three major sports leagues since 1993. It was a memorable run and Leonard was the central figure of it all.
After his rookie season and the departure of Chris Bosh, DeRozan tweeted "Don't worry, I got us."
Don't worry, I got us...- DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 29, 2010
For nine seasons the kid from Compton did everything he possibly could to elevate his game, the team and the city. His number 10 jersey should be hanging at SBA.
An All-Star five of his seven seasons in Toronto, CB4 was a walking 20 and 10 guy when that mattered in the NBA. Bosh turned himself into one of the 12 best players in the league at one point. He had his best years in Miami winning championships but Raptor fans shouldn't forget how nice Bosh was before his departure.
Many can gripe about this one but few can deny what Calderon meant to many Raptor fans across the country. There was a period of time that Calderon got one of the loudest cheers when the starting lineup was announced and there was a period of time when fans bought tickets to see him play.
If you've been watching the Raptors on TV since day one, there's been one constant and his name is Leo Rautins. Leo has been calling Raptors games since the team's inceptions, on every network. From CTV to the New VR, Sportsnet, TSN, CBC, the Score - you name it, Leo was on it. It's hard to think of a great Raptor moment where Leo wasn't either on the call or giving his expert analysis after it. For that, along with his contributors to the game in Canada, he should be honoured with a banner.
Very few have written more words about the Raptors than Smith. One of the very few that have been covering the team since day one, Smith has been one of the voices of the fans for years. The tough questions, the critical articles, the ability to capture the moment. When there's been a major moment in Raptors history, Smith has been required reading. Broadcasters, Owners, GMs and coaches have all been honoured by teams before and writers go into the Naismith Hall of Fame all the time. Smith should be up there. He's been as important to the journey of this franchise as anyone.
Not everyone should get their jersey retired, but there are many who should be honoured in some way. Here's a couple of names that should get the ring of honour treatment in no particular order.
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Morris Peterson
- Alvin Williams
- Herbie Kuhn
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