15 Things You Never Knew About The Toronto Raptors
The team will surprise you.
Photo cred - OneMethod
As of December 1st, the Toronto Raptors have an Eastern Conference best 13-4 record and have the second-highest points per game total in the NBA. And they did it all without Rob Ford. There's no denying this season marks the Raps best start since... well, ever, and while much of the squad's success could be attributed to Drake's lint-rolling ways, Toronto just happens to have a deep roster. They put chemistry first, live by #WeTheNorth, and really couldn't be a weirder more unique group.
Coach Casey Was A Blue-Collar Kentucky Wildcat
We'll never know if his hiring was Drake's doing (it likely was) and if it was for business or for pleasure (definitely pleasure), but Dwane Casey was a Kentucky Wildcat long before his years as an NBA coach. As a guard, he led the University Of Kentucky to an NCAA Tournament Championship in 1977-78 and even served as the team's captain during his senior year. Casey also led a hard-working life off-the-court as he did odd jobs in coal mining and tobacco farming to eventually obtain a degree in business administration.
The Rookies Have A Combined 15" Wingspan
Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira are both from Brazil and neither one of them is old enough to rent a vehicle (Caboclo is just 19), but they also have insane wingspans for a pair of first-years. Nogueira is a gangly 7'0 center and Caboclo is a 6'9 forward with an inhuman 7'7 tip to tip - attributes that make the rookies potential rebounding machines for an organization that can't seem to replace Chris Bosh.
Landry Fields Does A Mean Lionel Richie Impersonation
The former Stanford standout and New York Knickerbocker can hit a three with ease, but he can also belt out a tune. Earlier this year, Landry Fields appeared on the ABC show "Sing Your Face Off" and as a contestant, he temporarily broke the sports world with a rendition of Lionel Richie's "Dancing On The Ceiling". Better yet, he did so in costume - fake jheri curl and all.
Photo cred - Raptors Republic
Greivis Vasquez And Kevin Durant Were High School Classmates
There's no doubt Drake's a little jealous of Vasquez. Though he was born in Caracas, Venezuela, the Raptors guard moved to the United States to pursue a high school education at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland. There he played alongside NBA MVP Kevin Durant, helping the Montrose Christian Mustangs post a 43-5 record in his junior and senior years. Basketball aside, one can only guess what their high school prom photos look like.
Greg Stiemsma Is A Huge Sons Of Anarchy Fan
"Goldie Blocks" is mostly known for his stout play at Wisconsin and for being on the receiving end of punches and blocks during his NBA tenure, but he's also a diehard fan of the FX show "Sons Of Anarchy". Surprisingly, the biker persona fits. Stiemsma spends most of his spare time doing manlier than man things such as driving trucks and ice fishing.
Chuck Hayes Was Known As "Mr. Basketball" In High School
Another former Kentucky Wildcat, the San Leandro native Chuck Hayes has a quite a reputation on the West Coast. As a senior in high school, the forward was a Parade All-American and was given the title of "Mr. Basketball" in California while en route to leading his team to the state championship game. The honor is still recognized even today, but so is his free-throw stance which is still ugly.
Tyler Hansbrough Is A NCAA Record Holder
If you're a college basketball fan, then you're well aware of Tyler Hansbrough's success at the collegiate level. The former North Carolina Tar Heel holds a number of ACC records and even had his number 50 jersey retired in 2010, but he's also the NCAA all-time record holder for Most Free Throws Made (Career) with 982 in 2005-2009. Hansbrough's also no fluke as the big man made 304 free throws alone in 2007-08.
James Johnson Has A Black Belt In Karate
Ever wondered where James Johnson's sheer ferocity comes from? Look no further than his lineage. Born of Samoan heritage, Johnson grew up around martial arts as his father, Willie Johnson, is a black belt and a seven-time kickboxing champion while is mother, Vi, is a five-time nationals champion. James is also a karate black belt who sports a 21-0 record in competitive martial arts.
Photo cred - LP
Patrick Patterson Once Worked At Sportchek
Though it was more to celebrate the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, Patterson recently went undercover as a Sportchek employee at a store in East York, Toronto. The Raptors obviously documented the whole thing and while noting the power forward's despise for #10, it also revealed that Torontonians aren't intimidated by athletes. Especially 6'9 athletes that crush Twix bars all day.
Lou Williams Is A Part-Time Rapper
"Sweet Lou" has been a saviour for the Toronto Raptors this season given his court play and it's only a matter of time before the guard makes it rain in the booth. Williams has a history in hip-hop - from his cameo in Bow Wow's edition of "MTV Cribs" to having a verse on the Meek Mill track "I Want It All". Now if only he can get on a track with Jimmy Brooks of "Degrassi" fame...
Jonas Valanciunas Started Playing Pro Ball At Age 16
Born in Utena, Lithuania, the 22-year-old center started playing professional basketball in 2008 when he was just 16-years-old. Valanciunas first played for Lithuania's junior national team in the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship in Italy where he took home the Gold and MVP award, eventually repeating both honors in the 2010 FIBA Under-18's and the 2011 FIBA Under-19's.
Terrence Ross Is Just A Nerd At Heart
#TRossFlight31 may be all flash with his love for dunking and slamming down a Sprite after every game, but in reality, he's the biggest nerd on the team. The Raptors' two-guard maintained a 3.7 GPA while attending the University of Washington and for a period of time, he pro-actively had an interest in pursuing a career in forensic science and criminology.
Amir Johnson Is Just Full Of Charity
Having grown up in a sports-minded family - his cousins, Kevin and Kaelin Burnett, are both linebackers in the NFL - Amir Johnson has been highly involved in community work outside of basketball. While he's hosted back-to-school programs and visited hospitals in the Toronto area, he also helped promote the release of Drake's last album, buying out two local stores solely to hand out CDs to random strangers in the 416.
Photo cred - Triangle Offense
Kyle Lowry Is An Ambassador For Chinese Basketball Shoes
What's likely the weirdest factoid on this list just so happens to involve one of the weirdest endorsements in the NBA. Kyle Lowry's game as a point guard should be satisfactory enough to attract Nike, Sprite, or even Wheaties, yet as of today, it's the face of Peak Sports, a company in China that manufactures basketball sneakers. It might be wrong to say this, but generic FTW?