When Did The Raptors Start?

October 1, 2019 | Veronica Litt

When Did The Raptors Start?

June 13, 2019 was a very good day for Canadian basketball fans. After watching the Toronto Raptors—the only Canadian team in the entire NBA—struggle for years, long-time fans were finally rewarded. Led by the newly-acquired Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors finally defeated the Golden State Warriors and won the NBA championship, literally leading Canadians to take to the streets and party in the middle of intersections, even on busy highways. But how did this lone Canadian basketball team come to exist in the first place? When did the Raptors start?

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 14: Toronto Raptors fans celebrate atop and inside a bus on Yonge St. after the team beat the Golden State Warriors in Game Six of the NBA Finals, on June 14, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)Getty Images Fans celebrate the Raptors' championship win in the streets of Toronto.

Raptors Editorial

Want Some Maple Syrup With Yer Basketball?

Even though the Raptors are the odd ones out in the NBA, basketball was actually invented by a Canadian, the physical educator Dr. James Naismith, in 1891. Because of the sport’s Canuck roots, it’s a little surprising that Canada doesn’t have more teams. An older team called the Toronto Huskies played in an early version of the NBA for one season in 1946-47, but it took until 1995 for any other Canadian teams to break into the Association.

When did the Raptors Start EditorialGetty Images Dr. James Naismith

Canada’s Jurassic Age

In 1993, a Canadian organization applied to create a professional Canadian basketball team. The next year, the NBA visited to discuss the idea of a Canuck team joining the league. The Canadian representatives agreed to host games in a nearby stadium while another arena was being built and voilà, Canada had its first legitimate basketball team, eh? But there was just one thing missing: a name.

Canada, being a friendly nation, reached out to the people and asked them to brainstorm some ideas. The Toronto Beavers (why), Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Scorpions, T-Rexes, Tarantulas, Terriers (huh?), and Towers all fell before the mighty Toronto Raptors.

Why did the city choose this particular name? The committee never confirmed their reasons, but you have to think that Jurassic Park’s extreme popularity in the 1990s had something to do with it, right?

In any case, the team didn’t just draw inspiration from a Steven Spielberg movie. In a sweet gesture, one of the newly-minted team’s colors was called “Naismith Silver.” D’aww.

When did the Raptors start EditorialJurassic Park, Universal Pictures

Dribbling Like Babies

Along with the Vancouver Grizzlies (now based in Memphis, Tennessee), the Raptors were one of the first non-American teams to join the modern NBA. And boy, did they ever make an entrance. In their first three seasons, the Raptors finished...in last place in their division...every time. Ouch.

After failing to impress for three years in a row, the Raptors finally locked down their first MVP: Vince Carter, whose skills as a guard-forward helped Toronto make it to the playoffs for the first time in 1999-2000. Since then, the team has gone through highs and lows, cresting with a sublime 2019 victory.

When did the Raptors start EditorialGetty Images Vince Carter in the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest

Goodbye Kawhi

After riding high on their first-ever NBA championship, Raptors fans were saddened to hear that Kawhi Leonard, the “fun guy” who almost single-handedly led the team to victory (and briefly became a meme thanks to his charmingly strange laugh) was leaving to join the LA Clippers. Cue all of Toronto tearfully singing “My Heart Will Go On.”

What lies in store for the Raptors? Will they go extinct without their star player? Or will they rise to the occasion with a new MVP? Only time will tell. We’ll be watching.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.