The Toronto Raptors are an NBA franchise based out of the largest city in Canada. The team plays in the NBA’s Eastern Conference division alongside the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Orlando Magic.
It is widely known that the Raptors’ unique name came as a result of a naming contest held in 1995 by the team’s management to decide what would be the nickname of the new franchise. After putting the resulting entries to a vote, the “Raptors” entry was selected as the winner (probably due to the popularity of the movie Jurassic Park at the time).
The team’s jerseys are dominated by its iconic red and black colorway and its logo is a basketball with what looks like dinosaur claw marks across the lower left side. For home games, the Raptors usually defer to their default red jerseys, switching occasionally to their black alternate jersey from time to time.
Fun fact: while most people might think that the Raptors have always been the only non-American team to join the NBA, they joined alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1995 NBA’s expansion project into Canada. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee ahead of the 2001/02 season, leaving the Raptors as the sole Canadian NBA franchise. For its home games, the Raptors play in the Scotiabank Arena.
The Toronto Raptors’ history is one dotted with few recent successes amidst a myriad of historic disappointments in the league. Founded in 1995, the team played its first season in 1995/96. It wasn’t until 1998 however, following the trade that brought Vince Carter to Toronto, that the Raptors began to get noticed as a bonafide contender in the east. With its new star, the Raptors set attendance records and managed to make the playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002 seasons. The year 2000 saw the first playoff appearance for the team (which was barely five years old at the time), with 2001 being the year the Raptors would earn a spot past the first playoff round.
Following continued letdowns in the early 2000s, the team decided that a team reshuffle was in order. Vince Carter got traded and as a result of shrewd trades and draft pick bartering, future team legend Chris Bosh became the focal point of the team. With seemingly all the required pieces in place, the team managed to make the 2008 season playoffs and go on to even win the division. The next five years would prove disappointing for the franchise though and in 2010, after deciding that he’d had enough, Chris Bosh decided to leave the team and join the Miami Heat. In total, the Raptors have gone on to win seven division titles.
Masai Ujiri was brought on as President in 2013 to steer the franchise in the right direction and following another blowup, the team completely restructured, bringing in players like Damar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. These two formed an elite backcourt that saw the team through five consecutive playoff appearances – but still, no championship. It was in 2018, after deciding that he’d had enough, that Ujiri decided to bring in Nick Nurse as head coach and trade DeRozan to the Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. This proved an inspired decision, helping guide the Raptors to their first NBA championship in 2019 as well as provide sound leadership for players like Pascal Siakam and Fred Vanvleet.
Nowadays, the Raptors are an elite Eastern Conference contender and a regular playoff team. A combination of a solid back office, sound drafting, and excellent trading strategy has helped them not only stay relevant but excel in the league.