Barring injury (or disinterest from named participants), there will be no Toronto Raptors representation at the All-Star Game for the first time since 2013.
That may be a jarring fact to those whose memories only span back through this recent seven-year stretch in which the club netted 12 All-Star selections, but a season without a Raptor named to the mid-season exhibition is really nothing new. Prior to this decorated seven-year period, the organization had earned just 11 All-Star nods in the 18 seasons of their existence.
That’s not to say they didn’t deserve more. Some may feel that Fred VanVleet was snubbed out of his first career All-Star appearance this year, but he’d hardly be the first Raptor to get overlooked.
For so many years, Toronto served as something of an NBA outpost, so you had to really make your mark to get noticed (see Carter, Vince). Those who quietly went about producing – and who may well have earned a nod if they put up the same numbers while playing in LA, New York or Boston – risked being ignored by the largely American media base.
While VanVleet wasn’t necessarily a lock, his miss does present an opportunity to look back on some Raptors who had a legitimate right to gripe about being left out.
These are the three of the most notable All-Star omissions in Raptors history
No. 3: Damon Stoudamire (1995-96 or 1996-97)
A rookie earning an All-Star nod has literally become a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, happening once in the 2000’s (Yao Ming, 2003) and once in the 2010’s (Blake Griffin, 2011). It’s understandable that coaches were reluctant to include Stoudamire in his 1995-96 Rookie of the Year season, especially since it doubled as the first campaign in franchise history.
Stoudamire put up numbers (18.4 points, 9.1 assists pre-All Star) that were influenced by high usage (a whopping 41.3 minutes per game) during his rookie season
The Raptors’ poor record hurt Damon Stoudamire
Still, that didn’t fully explain future years in which Mighty Mouse was also overlooked. In 1996-97, Stoudamire averaged 20 points and 8.4 assists in the season’s first half, but still wasn’t named.
Instead, Terrell Brandon got an East guard spot while averaging slightly more points (20.3) and far fewer assists (6.2). In a head-to-head battle that immediately preceded the 1997 All-Star Game, Brandon had 25 points and four assists while Stoudamire had 19 points and 10 assists in an 89-84 Raps’ win.
Stoudamire would have his trade request granted the following season. But while he continued to stand out in Portland, Memphis and a brief late-career stint in San Antonio, he never came any closer to achieving All-Star status.