Two things sent me on another eBay rabbit hole last week to search for Raptors merchandise. One, an announcement was made that the 1999-2000 Raptors squad would be included as one of the classic teams in the upcoming NBA 2K16 video game. (Definitions of classic may vary, considering this team won 45 games and was swept in the first round by the Knicks. But, this was the Vince Carter-Tracy McGrady team, and the first Raptors team to make the playoffs. So: classic status accepted.) Two, it's August, which means die-hard basketball fans are wandering in the desert hoping for anything to thirst on, and there's no better oasis than a site that works as both a time machine and an opportunity to toss your disposable income into something regrettable.
I tried my best to avoid any specific Vince Carter finds since we know they're everywhere.
The Holy Grail: Based on the eye test, I have questions about the authenticity of this jersey, but a Vincenzo Esposito Raptors jersey exists on eBay, which is about as close as it gets to so rare I'm not sure I even care if it's real or not since the real thing probably doesn't even exist. Bonus: it is in "near mint condition with no flaws" so if you have $80 and will be attending a frat party where obscure sports jerseys is the entrance code (I actually encountered a group of people with this request at a throwback jersey store last week, just in case you want to tag this non-fiction), this is where you need to be.
Make 'Em Say Uhh: Master P a.k.a. Percy Miller didn't play in an actual NBA game with Toronto (unless you count the five preseason appearances he made), so actual Raptors merchandise is hard to come by. But if you insist, there's a size XL No Limit Records jersey for $125, and you can add a Lil' Romeo bobblehead to the collection while you're at it.
Hero jersey: Another player with a mostly forgettable stint with the Raptors was Carlos Arroyo. But he did lead the Puerto Rico national team to a victory over Team USA in the 2004 Olympics. You can commemorate that moment with an Arroyo Team Puerto Rico jersey for $29.75, authenticity at your own discretion although you may apply the previously defined Esposito rule here.
Streetball legend: Sadly, my searches didn't yield any Vines of Rafer Alston's scuffles with Sam Mitchell in Toronto for sale. But, if you want a Skip To My Lou AND1 authentic jersey you're in luck.
The stub: Remember when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Raptors? If you don't, NBATV will be sure to remind you several times a year by replaying the game, and given that Kobe might retire at the end of the season, we'll be seeing the highlights package quite a bit this year. If you have absolutely nothing else to frame and hang in your living room, and would like to spend $656.25 on a ticket stub from the 81-point game, just click here! Bonus: a more affordable 1995 SkyDome opening night ticket for $79.99.
The programs: My favourite find from this detour, a Raptors Insider magazine program with Mats Sundin in a Raptors jersey and Vince Carter in a Leafs jersey. Also, you can start the bidding at $2.75. Any program less than $10 is worth splurging on just because it's worth the 15 minutes of flipping through for the vintage ads. Bonus: Raptors game program with Michael Jordan on the cover, and a signed program with Carter, McGrady and company.
Jerseys: I remain surprised that a lot of Jamario Moon jerseys were sold during his tenure here, but they now reside online. I don't condone spending $600 on a Damon Stoudamire jersey, but do support you giving up $55 for a Marcus Camby (full disclosure: I own one of these). Underrated and affordable purchase? A Raptors reversible practice jersey.
The Bobbleheads: I like the details on this Andrea Bargnani bobblehead, quality of player notwithstanding. For the memories: T.J. Ford. If you're looking for a set of bobbleheads, you could do worse than a trio of Jose Calderon, Chuck Swirsky and Jermaine O'Neal bobbleheads or the alumni quartet of Jerome Williams, Mo Peterson, Damon Stoudamire and Charles Oakley.
The rest: Remember when pennant banners were all the rage? They were all I collected in elementary school. They remain a thing on eBay. And, an inaugural season pin and a Zan Tabak HOOPS card can be purchased at reasonable prices. If you're into cards, I recommend: Hedo Turkoglu. Carlos Rogers. Hakeem Olajuwon. Keon Clark and Alvin Williams. Lastly: Raptors Starter pullover jacket for kids and for men.
All images via eBay