Creating a Franchise
The Toronto Raptors were born in 1993 when the NBA received a formal application from the Professional Basketball Franchise Inc. (PBF) in Canada. In the summer of ’93, the NBA expansion committee visited Toronto to examine the PBF’s plans, which was led by high-esteemed businessmen, who were eager to get their own franchise. To help seal the deal, PBF made plans to build the team’s stadium in downtown Toronto, which would be next to the subway to ensure easy access during the cold weather. Additionally, it would be strategically placed near big businesses so that businessmen would buy box suites at the stadium. This helped the NBA finally take the leap to expand beyond the U.S. and into Canadian territory.
However, Toronto still needed a mascot. PBF kicked off the “Name Game” in 1994 – a contest to name the team and develop the logo and team colors. Over 2,000 entries were received, but there could only be one winner. On May 15, 1994, PBF announced the team would become the Toronto Raptors. That same year, the Raptors announced the addition of Isiah Thomas as the vice president of basketball operations and Bob Zufellato as a player scout. Zufellato was no stranger to the game, though. He had 33 years of coaching and player development under his belt.
When the Toronto Raptors became an official member of the NBA on May 16, 1995, they quickly hired their first head coach, Brendan Malone, who had previous experience with the Detroit Pistons.
The Toronto Raptors Throughout the Years
While the Raptors are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies as the second youngest NBA franchise (at more than 20 years old), they still have a ways to go. The team started out slow and finished with a losing record for its first four seasons. However, the Raptors found their stride in the 1999-2000 season (with a record of 45-37). Second-year small forward Vince Carter averaged 25.7 points per game that season. In 2003, the Raptors acquired center Chris Bosh, who helped lead the Raptors to finish first in the NBA during the 2006-07 season by averaging 22.6 points per game.
However, this wouldn’t happen again until the 2013-14 season, when the Raptors finished with a slightly better record of 48-34 under head coach Dwane Casey. The most recent seasons have been the franchise’s best. In 2012, the Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets. Lowry caught fire in 2015, averaging 21.2 points per game and leading the Raptors to their most winning record of 56-26. Lowry still continues to be a leading scorer, along with shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who’ve combined for an average 50.4 points per game this season.
Breaking Down Notable Changes
1995–1999 (Home): The Raptors’ home uniform in 1995 is unique: a white jersey with a cartoon raptor wearing sneakers. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs wearing shoes?
1999–2006 (Home): The jersey is changed in 1999 to a more classic look similar to today’s jersey. Furthermore, the Raptors do away with the sneaker-wearing raptor. Instead, they replace it with “Toronto” or “Raptors” across the chest over a white background.
1999–2006 (Road): Just like in the previous years, the road jersey is purple and dons the same look with “Toronto” written across the chest in white with a red outline.
2006–2015 (Home): In 2006, the home jersey changes from white and purple to white and red.
2015–2017 (Home): Still working with the same new colors – white, red, and black – the Raptors sport a white jersey with “Raptors” instead of “Toronto” written across the chest in black. The jersey has a red lining, giving it a more distinct look.
Want Your Own Toronto Raptors Jersey?
Finally, for those who love dinosaurs wearing sneakers, no worries. We’ve got you covered at Fanatics.com with a Vince Carter throwback jersey. For more Toronto Raptors gear, head over to Fanatics.com to get all swagged out before entering the Air Canada Centre.