The List: Ranking the most badass enforcers in Raptors history

They haven't been in Toronto long, but where do P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka rank on the list of the most bad-ass enforcers in Raptors history?

Apart from reminding us of what a ninny Lance Stephenson is, Tuesday night’s late-game shenanigans — when the Pacers guard ran up the score with a layup in the dying seconds and angered many Raptors players in the process — also provided a clear reminder that this current Raps roster boasts what I argued to be the greatest collection of enforcers the team has ever had in Serge Ibaka, DeMarre Carroll, and P.J. Tucker.

But where do those three individually rank all-time? Here’s a definitive and ultra-scientific ranking of the most badass enforcers in Toronto Raptors history:

1. CHARLES OAKLEY

No surprise here. Oakley’s prime years as an NBA enforcer — setting the bar for the extremely physical Knicks teams of the early ’90s, and watching Michael Jordan’s back in Chicago with the Bulls — may have been behind him by the time he reached Toronto, but Oakley surely didn’t disappoint as a Raptor.

2. JERRY STACKHOUSE

Sure, he never suited up for the Raptors as a player, spent just one season as an assistant and is currently the head coach of the Raps’ D-League team, but Stack has been ranked by at least one outlet as the single most terrifying NBA player of our time.

There are countless Stackhouse fight stories, the most famous probably being the time he beat up then-Jazz rookie Kirk Snyder after a game in which Snyder had delivered a pair of cheap shots to him. Not wanting to get fined for fighting on the court, Stack instead waited until after the game.

“I ain’t even shower,” Stackhouse told Grantland in 2013. “I put on some sweats, some sneakers, and I went and stood in the tunnel. As soon as [Snyder] came out, I fired on him. I got a couple. That was it…It probably lasted 20 seconds.”

Bottom line: don’t mess with Stack.

Here’s he is speaking at length about his reputation as a scrapper, and also mentioning of another name on this list, Tyler Hansbrough, (the good stuff begins around 1:45)

And here’s how Stack dealt with Shaquille O’Neal during the 2006 NBA Finals. As this “piece”, titled The Top 5 Times Jerry Stackhouse Beat Down an NBA Player, notes: “…check out [O’Neal’s] teammates. They steered clear of Stackhouse like he had contracted the bubonic plague.”

3. ANTONIO DAVIS

Davis boasted the ultimate blend of toughness and talent, and balanced his role as both an enforcer and go-to star as well as anybody during his impressive time in Toronto.

Here he is after his Raptors career ended, backing up a Bulls teammate who received a hard foul from then-Wizards centre Brendan Haywood:

And I particularly LOVE this moment, in which Davis, then a member of the Knicks, jumps into the stands when he sees his wife being confronted by fans:

4. SERGE IBAKA

Recency bias? Perhaps. But there’s no doubting Ibaka’s status as a bona fide tough guy, or the fact that if you were formulating an all-time back-alley team, Ibaka would make the cut. He doesn’t back away from a challenge, stands up for his teammates (as we saw Tuesday night), and, as we all saw during his fracas with Bulls centre Robin Lopez, will not be disrespected:

5. P.J. TUCKER

Exactly as advertised. Since being acquired by the Raptors at the trade deadline, Tucker has been every bit the reliable enforcer-type we expected who, like Davis and Ibaka, also provides a legitimate spark with his productivity on both ends of the floor.

As a member of the Suns, he famously clocked Blake Griffin in the face when the Clippers forward pulled him to the ground after some physical post play, smiling as he left the court after being ejected. And, of course, on Tuesday night he reminded us all that he too won’t allow himself or his team to be disrespected.

6. JAMES JOHNSON

His second-degree black belt and 7-0 MMA record means that Johnson is legitimately not scared of getting into it with just about anybody in the NBA (or, you know, on Earth). It creates the perfect mindset for an enforcer, and during his two stints in Toronto Johnson proved he would have his teammates’ backs and could not be intimidated. (Bonus points to Chuck Hayes, who barely missed the cut on this list, in that clip.)

7. ALVIN ROBERTSON

Robertson was a four-time all-star with the Spurs and Bucks before joining the Raptors for their inaugural season in 1995, where he played more than 30 minutes a game. Robertson was notoriously unafraid of matching up with the likes of Michael Jordan, but by all accounts he was more straight-up crazy than an enforcer-type per se. Still, he cracks the list and is definitely the type of guy you’d want on your side when it goes down. Just ask former Raptor John Salley:

Alvin Robertson was the scariest player I ever played against. He would beat the shit out of anybody. If you told me to put together a team of all the old-timers, it would be Alvin Robertson and Sidney Moncrief—just tough dudes.

8. TYLER HANSBROUGH

Raptors fans (more specifically, Jonas Valanciunas) know all too well what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Hansbrough’s physical play.

But he’s the archetype of the “hate him until he’s on your team” type of player. In his short stint as a Raptor Hansbrough never shied away from confrontation, and you know he’d stick up for his teammates (sure, in the video below he’s looking out for his little brother, Ben, but the point remains):

9. REGGIE EVANS

An enforcer in the classic mould, Evans was an admirable rebounder during his NBA career but earned his reputation as someone unafraid to get into it with opponents.

Here’s what then-head coach Jay Triano had to say when the Raps acquired Evans:

“Reggie has got the opportunity to be the guy that the fans embrace. They like the hard-working guys that do the gritty stuff. He’s that type of guy. We haven’t had a guy like that in the past, a guy that will step up for his teammates…a team enforcer.”

Here’s what a bunch of opponents said about what it’s like to go up against Evans under the glass.

10. RASHO NESTEROVIC

Maybe not as predictable as some of the other names on this list, but Nesterovic definitely earned the respect from his teammates during his time in Toronto.

Last summer I interviewed Amir Johnson and asked him to name his starting five back-alley team from his Raptors tenure. After quickly rolling off DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Reggie Evans and Alan Anderson, he paused.

“So I need one more guy…You know what? I’m going to go with Rasho Nesterovic. Rasho man, he was a big body and although he wasn’t as athletic it didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to let anybody get to the basket, man. He had his signature hammer foul, that’s what I called it. He might not block your shot, but he’d get you with that hammer foul.”

Honourable mentions: Jackie Christie, Kevin Willis, Chuck Hayes, Popeye Jones, Michelle Carter.

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