SLAM: Damon Stoudamire’s Journey of a General
The tattoo was an iconic symbol of its generation. Like Iverson’s cornrows, Mutumbo’s finger wag or Stockton’s shorts. The Mighty Mouse tat on Stoudamire’s right bicep is more than just a piece of ink. It’s a representation of the struggle derived from years of sweat and determination.
“I still take on that whole Mighty Mouse persona today,” Stoudamire said. “That shaped the person I am. No matter what life brings, you just have to weather the storm and stay the course.”
For Stoudamire, that course has always consisted of the game he loves. The 5-10 guard from Portland, OR, has embraced every step and misstep along the way. For him, it is about the struggle. It is about the grind to the top. He lives for that moment when you are knocked down and people are waiting to see if you will get back up.
He quickly quieted the boos when the Toronto Raptors selected him seventh overall in the 1996 Draft. With a kiss on the head from GM Isaiah Thomas, Stoudamire was handed the keys to the expansion franchise, and within weeks fans were asking, “Ed O’Bannon who?”
Something about the crafty lefty, in his Jurassic Park-themed pinstriped jersey, drew attention. His range kept defenders honest, yet his quickness allowed him to slice into the lane with his patent spin move and teardrop finish. His low center of gravity and wicked double crossover injected life into a city where basketball was a mystery. He was the complete package with the heart of a general.
You could see the twinkle in Thomas’ eye as he watched Stoudamire earn Rookie of the Year honors. When the Raptors drafted Marcus Camby the following year, it looked as if the pair would be the cornerstones to a new era in Canada. But during the ’98 season, Thomas resigned as GM and Stoudamire was shipped to the Trail Blazers.