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From 25 years ago: The birth of the Toronto Raptors (as a logo)


A naming contest had supplied the owners of Toronto’s NBA basketball team with many choices when it came to what to call their franchise.

In the end, they went with Raptors — a name distinctly tied to the mid-’90s, post-Jurassic Park era that the team was born in.

The Raptors logo quickly made its way onto all kinds of merchandise — T-shirts, caps and more. (Sunday Report/CBC Archives)

John Bitove Jr., then the Raptors’ president, described it as “the newest, freshest and hungriest look in the NBA.”

It was also a logo that the team expected to market quickly.

“We’re going to be in five continents over 40 countries in stores starting tomorrow,” Bitove said at the 1994 press conference in which the logo was unveiled.

Having a logo gave future Toronto basketball fans a connection to the team. (Sunday Report/CBC Archives)

The logo came a year ahead of the expansion draft that would give the Raptors actual players to deploy in a game.

But, like many expansion teams, the Raptors went through some growing pains.

The team won just 21 games in its first year during the 1995-96 season — or barely a quarter of the games in its schedule. (One bright spot was seeing Damon Stoudamire win Rookie of the Year honours, as seen in the clip below.)

A small player makes a huge impression when Raptors rookie Damon Stoudamire wins the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Stoudamire/Raptors footage: NBA 2:12

Four years later, in 2000, the Raptors posted a winning overall record for the first time and also made the playoffs.

Since the millennium, the team has made the playoffs 11 times, as of the 2018-19 season. So far, a trip to the NBA finals has proven elusive.

Read more at CBC.ca