It was 12 years and five days ago that Damon Stoudamire got his wish and was traded from Toronto.
Stoudamire, the first player drafted by the Raptors, was back in Toronto Wednesday night in the role of assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.
They don’t boo Mighty Mouse in Toronto anymore, like they once did. In fact when his accomplishments in a Raptors uniform were recognized as part of the 15-year anniversary of the franchise in a short videoboard presentation, Stoudamire received a standing ovation.
Looking back on what was a messy divorce from the team, a departure he orchestrated after GM Isiah Thomas fled the scene in November, Stoudamire’s only regret is how it was handled, both by himself and the organization.
“The whole regret that I have is not necessarily what was or what wasn’t,” Stoudamire said Wednesday night. “The regret that I have was moreso the immaturity of the way the whole thing happened.
“I think everybody, both sides included, it was just an immature situation and I’m willing and I accept my responsibility in that.”
It has been suggested in the past that Stoudamire regrets ever leaving Toronto, but if that was once the case, Stoudamire says it no longer is.
“The emotions were so high at the time and I wanted to get to a winner so bad and have a chance to win,” he said. “Going to Portland with all the young players they had, I just felt like that was a good fit for me.”
Were he given a do-over, Stoudamire suggests he would have handled things much the way Chris Bosh has handled his situation — not that Stoudamire is suggesting Bosh is leaving. Like the rest of the world, he has no idea. He just likes the way he has handled things to this point.
“I commend Chris Bosh on the way he has handled the situation,” Stoudamire said. “There has probably been plenty of times throughout that he could have went bad on the situation. I think he has handled himself well. I think he has spoken well and although he hasn’t given them the answer they wanted yet and signed on that dotted line, he hasn’t alienated (anyone) either.”
For Stoudamire, even though things did not work out the way he had hoped in Portland, he believed at the time it gave him the best shot to win.
“Sometimes you go to a situation and it works for you and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “I think the first four years in Portland were good for me and I think the last three ... I probably got out of there three years too late rather than three years too early.”
He just wishes he had left Toronto on better terms.