June 1996: Raptors Win Draft Lottery, Pick Second
In 1994, the Bitove/Slaight ownership group won the rights to the Toronto NBA franchise. The expansion fee was $125 million USD. Just 7 years previous, the expansion fees paid by Orlando, Miami, Charlotte and Minnesota were $130 million USD... COMBINED.
John Bitove and Allan Slaight must have been pretty savvy negotiators in order to pay this astounding fee. For their money they got an NBA franchise, but one saddled with a diminished salary cap, the effort to sign up twice as many season ticket holders than the Houston Rockets already had, had to negotiate with the provincial government in order to stop Pro-Line from taking bets on NBA games, handed over 5% of the franchise to Isiah Thomas, and did not have the right to take the first pick in the NBA draft for 3 years. David Stern then pushed Bitove in a puddle and stole his milk money while simultaneously giving Slaight a wedgie.
The belief was that the NBA didn't want its most marketable stars (i.e the #1 picks) in Canada. A belief that was blown out of the water immediately when Damon Stoudamire won Rookie of the Year and was featured in Nike ads with Mighty Mouse. But a deal's a deal so...
"And with the #1 pick in the 1996 draft the Toronto Raptors do NOT select Allen Iverson, Georgetown University." -- David Stern