It was almost impossible for the Chicago Bulls to lose a game during the 1996/97 season; however, Damon Stoudamire had one of the best games in his career to make sure the Raptors handed out a surprising loss to the Bulls.
Mighty Mouse had an immediate impact
His nickname was Mighty Mouse, and the Toronto Raptors drafted him as the 7th overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft. Damon Stoudamire immediately impacted the team and did a great job in his first season when he set a record in threes for a rookie with 133 threes made. One of his best games that season came against none other than the Chicago Bulls, who were crushing everyone that faced them along the way.
After two home victories against Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls went to Canada, where the Raptors hosted them in the legendary SkyDome. Bulls were welcomed by 36,000 fans, a record for the number of visitors to the Raptors game that still stands today.
Stoudamire destroyed the Bulls in that game, scoring 30 points with four rebounds and 11 assists. Although Jordan (36 points, nine rebounds, 14/22 shot) and Kukoč (23 points, nine rebounds, four assists) were fantastic, the Raptors, especially Stoudamire, did not let the Bulls secure another win.
It was a special moment for the Raptors
Stoudamire's teammate Tracy Murray, who had a great game with 24 points, said it was a much-needed win for them in a predominantly very disappointing season.
"It was something special, it really was. And in a year where you couldn't say that a lot, at least not on the basketball court" said Murray
John Salley, who played for the Bulls that season said the Raptors' win came as a surprise, and it was mostly because other players on the Bulls didn't take them seriously enough. The Bulls were already preparing for the playoffs, and the Raptors were the last of their concern.
"We relaxed, to tall you the truth, because we were playing the worst team in the league said Salley. It was springtime, and most guys are phoning it in. We took them for granted."
After six consecutive victories, the Bulls were defeated by 109:108 in this unforgettable game. Although they did not catch up on the playoffs in that season, this Raptors team remained only one of the nine teams that won the game against probably the best and most iconic team in NBA history, the 72-10 Chicago Bulls.
In his rookie season, Stoudamire averaged 19.0 points, 9.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He was named Rookie of the Month twice during the regular season and received 76 out of a possible 113 votes to win the Rookie of The Year award. Stoudemire's rookie season is a rarity because it was statistically the best in his career.