Charles Oakley

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At 6-foot-9, 245 pounds the one-and-only Charles Oakley was loved by his teammates and fans throughout his 19 NBA seasons with Chicago (1985-88; 2001-02), New York (1988-98), Toronto (1998-2001), Washington (2002-03) and Houston (2004). His force as a power forward with the Knicks defined him as one of the NBA’s top rebounders and defensive player. Those traits were evident in his relatively short but highly influential and franchise-building moments with the Raptors. Obtained for Marcus Camby in 1998-99, Oakley was essential in bringing leadership to a club with budding superstars Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady ready to lift the Raptors to never-before-seen heights. The Raptors were 21-61 as an expansion franchise in 1995-96 and 16-66 in their third season. But with Oakley on board, they went 23-27 in his first season, then 45-37 in 1999-2000 as the club reached the playoffs for the first time in its five seasons. After losing in the Eastern Conference first round that year, the Raptors went 47-35 in 2000-01, reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals. Among his NBA honours, Oakley made the All-Rookie First Team in 1986, All-Star and All-Defensive First Teams in 1994 and All-Defensive Second Team in 1998. The decorated star out of Virginia Union didn’t only garner respect for his exploits on the court, he also ranks as one of the most quotable pro athletes of all time. Among his many pearls of Oakley-isms are the likes of: “Potential is like a summer crop … if it don’t rain, it don’t grow” and “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it” and “People say you’re old. Old ain’t nothing. You’ve got new cars that break down and old cars that pass them!” There are many more, of course, as his sage advice, respect for the game and playing to win encapsulate the fascinating world of Charles Oakley.