The Toronto Raptors started the decade irrelevant, rebuilding after losing another star player. As 2019 comes to a close, they’re defending NBA champions. What are their biggest game-changing moments from the 2010s?
It is incredible to think about how much things can change over 10 years, in our personal lives and especially in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors started the decade, 15 years into their existence under Jay Triano, with a 40-42 season. They briefly tanked before undergoing sweeping change towards an era of unprecedented success with many firsts.
Top of the Eastern Conference regular-season standings in 2017-18. First Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. First NBA Finals in 2019. First-time NBA Champions. Even now, with a changed roster, the Toronto Raptors are still in the battle for the top of the Eastern Conference amid times of uncertainty.
It was never always this way, though. The Raptors have gone through their share of heartache en route to success.
Once a perennial afterthought, a place from where star players fled, the Raptors end the 2010s a model of consistency and innovation. That’s a reputation once only reserved for the almighty San Antonio Spurs (who end 2019 barely in the playoff picture). Wrap your head around that.
So how did we get to this point?
Starting from the bottom, let’s look at six of the most important moments in this decade-long journey towards success in ‘The Six.’