Toronto Raptors: 30 greatest players of all-time

(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) /

19. Charles Oakley

If you didn’t have a big, bruising power forward who could punch a melon in half back in the 90s, you probably weren’t doing the 90s right.

Arriving in Toronto during the 1998 season, the Raptors trading a disgruntled young man named Marcus Camby — not the first budding star to be traded by the Raptors and certainly not the last — for the burly power forward.

Oakley brought a necessary veteran leadership to a locker room that featured a young Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. Never the most graceful player, Oakley was a tough, gritty and durable star who could add rebounding and muscle to the young core.

He started in 207 of his 208 games as a Raptor, averaging 7.9 points per game and 8.0 rebounds. By the time he joined the Raptors, Oakley was already 35 years old and in an obvious decline. In his first two seasons, Oakley only averaged 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 rebounds per contest, back-to-back career lows for the former Knick.

The stats didn’t matter though, Oakley just straight up busted faces and flung his body about like he was a Stretch Armstrong holding a grudge. Teams didn’t want to match up against Oakley in the nineties and they probably wouldn’t want to now, either.

Things have gone pretty awry for Oakley since he stepped away from basketball, most famously his bust-up at Madison Square Garden in 2017. Oakley was alleged to have yelled at James Dolan, the man who has held the New York Knicks hostage for the better part of twenty years, and refused to stop, leading to his ejection from the arena.

I’m going to decline to talk more about the controversies surrounding Oakley, instead I’ll wish the man well. Life goes beyond basketball, sometimes the reality outside of it is harder to grasp.