All but one NBA team is based in the United States. That one outlier is the Toronto Raptors, a relatively new basketball team that was established back in 1995. So how did a team with a history dating back just 25 years clinch the NBA Championship in 2019? You’re about to learn about the history of the lone Canadian NBA team, including information about the early years, logos and jerseys, the stadium where they play, and where the team stands now.
The Beginning Years
The Toronto Raptors aren’t the first professional basketball team to represent Canada. Before the Toronto Raptors and the former Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis), there were the Toronto Huskies. The team played for one season between 1946 and 1947 before professional basketball would return to Canada nearly half a century later.
The Toronto Raptors were officially created by Canadian businessman John Bitove in 1993. The team was then led by former NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas, as well as former Pistons assistant coach, Brendan Malone. The first Raptors roster would officially be filled in the 1995 NBA expansion draft.
The name “Raptors” comes from the wildly popular film, Jurassic Park, which was released just two years earlier before the franchise joined the NBA. Before the Raptors played their first season in the NBA, the team formally adopted four team colors: Black, silver, red, and purple. Over the years, the team colors would become more apparent in Raptors jerseys and logos.
Not surprisingly, the Toronto Raptors struggled immensely during their first few years on the court. The team ended their first NBA season with a dismal 21-61 record, but they were somehow able to remain victorious over some of the best teams in the league, like the Chicago Bulls.
The Toronto Raptors struggled to fill their roster with veteran players during its first few years. Finally, in the 1998 season, the Raptors saw the entrance of NBA veterans like Kevin Willis, ultimately leading to an uptick in performance over the next few seasons as a team.
The team logos of the Toronto Raptors has changed a few times since the team was established back in 1995. One thing remains steady between the different logos: The colors black, red, and silver.
1995 - 1998
The Toronto Raptors have had an extensive history of changing their jerseys every few years since 1995. The team seems to change its logos much more consistently than its logo.
The initial jersey for the Toronto Raptors was used between 1995 and 1998 as the Raptors played at the SkyDome. The jersey looks very similar to the team logo at the time, which includes all four team colors and a Raptor playing basketball.
1999 - 2007
The 1999 season at the Air Canada Centre marked the reveal of the second known jersey for the Toronto Raptors. This jersey was significantly more simple, with a purple overtone and the name “Toronto” on the front.
2008 - 2014
In 2008, the team seemed to have let go of the purple and transitioned over to a similar-looking red jersey instead. This jersey replaced “Toronto” with “Raptors.”
2015 - Today
The most recent Toronto Raptors jersey was released in 2015. This jersey is mainly white with “Raptors” printed in black lettering on the front. However, there seems to be a new jersey coming down the pipeline for the 2020 NBA season.