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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

May 22- The new Toronto expansion team unveils their Raptors name and logo in 1994

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

1994- On this date in sports history in 1994, Toronto unveiled their mascot to be the Raptors. The NBA announced in April of 1993 that the Professional Basketball Franchise (Canada) sent them a formal application to become an NBA franchise. In September of 1993, the NBA expansion committee recommended that the Professional Basketball Franchise would be awarded a franchise. Soon Toronto was announced to be the 28th team in the NBA. Toronto did have a franchise the very first year of the NBA which was the 1946-47 season. However the Toronto Huskies, as they were called back then, folded after a horrible first year for a variety of reasons. They finished the season with a record of 22-38 and the owners lost $100,000 over the one year. There was a group who wanted the new Toronto franchise to go back to the name Toronto Huskies.

Instead, the new Toronto franchise decided to use a different name. To come up with the name, they used media partners to get a list of 10 potential names. Some of the potential names were the Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, and Terriers. They went to a fan vote where the fans ultimately voted to become the Toronto Raptors. Some of the popularity surrounding the Raptors nickname relates to the craze behind Jurassic Park which was a huge movie hit in the mid 1990’s. The President of the Raptors, John Bitove Jr. said that the Raptors were “the newest, freshest, and hungriest look in the NBA”. The mascot was a mean, red cartoon dinosaur that was dribbling a basketball. The colors were red, purple, black, and silver. The initial reaction to the unveiling wasn’t all positive. There were some concerns that the Raptors name had no significance to Canada or to basketball. It also resulted in the team getting a lot of Barney jokes. However, Canadians and the Raptor’s fans quickly embraced the name and it has become one of the more popular NBA franchises. In 2020, the Raptors ranked in the top five for merchandising sales among all NBA teams.

The first year for the Toronto Raptors was a struggle as expected since they were an expansion team. They finished the 1995-96 season with a record of 21-61. They quickly turned it around by making the playoffs just four years later in 2000. The Raptors have been one of the NBA’s most successful teams lately. They made the NBA finals for the first time ever in 2019 where they beat the Warriors four games to two to become NBA Champions.

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Also check out yesterday's post! On May 21, 1986, Ralph Sampson hits a buzzer beater that knocks Magic Johnson and the Lakers out of the playoffs before the NBA Finals for the only time between 1982-1989. Read about that here-


“Behind the Name: Toronto Fans Help NBA Squad Find Its Identity.” Toronto Raptors, NB, 22 Sept. 2010,

“Before They Were the Raptors, Toronto's NBA Team Was Nearly the Beavers, Hogs or Dragons | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 1 June 2019

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