Founded in 1995 after a growing interest in the Canadian city to have an NBA franchise, the Toronto Raptors may be a relatively young team with a rich history. The 2019 NBA champion is among the league attendance records and is famous for its vivid logos and jerseys. In this article LeafletCasino experts who review online casino websites and sports betting platforms dive deep into the history of the Toronto Raptors logo, revealing the fact that the team has always been fascinating with their appearances, from humble beginnings to being crowned champions. It started with a basketball-playing Velociraptor and purple shirts, stretching to black apparel and claws on the ball. You will get to know how the Raptors' logo evolved through the decades and how the audience reacted.
1995-2014: Basketball-playing Velociraptor
The story of Canada having a National Basketball Association team started in 1946. On November 1, the Toronto Huskies played against the New York Knicks. It was the first-ever NBA game, and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) arena earned its place in the league's history. But, the Huskies left the competition after a single season. It took almost four decades to start negotiating for another Toronto-based team to join the league.
The NBA Board of Governors awarded the franchise to John Bitove for the then-record of $125 million. The local consortium of Bitove, Slaight Communications, Bank of Nova Scotia, David Peterson, and Phil Granovsky partnered to raise the capital. Basketball wagering was a popular pastime in Ontario, but it posed a few challenges to the newly-founded franchise. The league was then strict about gambling, and the consortium had to approach the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
The provincial gambling and lottery operator agreed to stop accepting any NBA wager. Nevertheless, the Raptors had to compensate for the OLG's losses. The dispute ended with an agreement: the Raptors donated $5 million in the first three years and, moreover, paid $1 million annually to OLG's charitable foundation.
Choosing the Name
After meeting the legal requirements, the regulated association held a nationwide contest for naming the team. The initial sentiment was in favor of reviving the Huskies. Still, the management thought everything would look much like the Minnesota Timberwolves. They believe creating a logo to distinguish a husky from a timberwolf would be impossible. Thus, organizing content with 2,000+ entries they narrowed down the selection to 11 nicknames.
The Toronto Raptors could become the Towers (the content runner-up), Tarantulas, or Dragons. Back then, the Jurassic Park movie was at the peak of popularity. Velociraptor, a dinosaur species, featured in the film and influenced the final choice. Even later the dinos appeared on clothes, toys, and games.
Some of the board members thought Toronto shouldn’t wear such a symbol. And the Bitov’s kid solved the doubts: "Dad, why don't you like Raptors?". Velociraptors looked less aggressive and were fan favorites thanks to their intelligence, speed, ferocity, and pack-like mentality. The idea won the name contest, and it was time to give it a visual identity after having a name.
Designing the First Logo
Tom O'Grady, the league's then-creative director, and John Bitove cooperated on the project. Bitove wanted "a Happy Meal box of jerseys," meaning an edgy and subversive combination of colors. Together, they designed a provocative uniform to get the team noticed. O'Grady mocked up a basketball-playing dinosaur right when sports outfitters started printing images onto jerseys. The team adopted a red dinosaur logo with a purple color as their primary. The lettering was in James Naismith silver, nodding to the Canadian inventor of basketball. The off-the-charts unusual uniform should stand out from the Maple Leafs, Toronto's main competitor.
The Toronto Raptors unveiled their new design on May 24, 1994. It was a massive success, making them one of the hottest-selling brands in the league. According to reports, the kit sale revenue was $20 million within a month. Even before playing an actual game, the Raptors ranked 7th in merchandise sales.
Despite the hype, Bitove said this design was never meant to last, – the first makeover was in the late 1990s. Bitove sold his stake, and the Raptors lined up with league tradition. First, in 2009 the logo changed the purple color to red.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) bought the club in 2014, MLSE then hired an advertising agency to redefine Toronto's identity. The now-famous We the North campaign created a new logo and team colors.
2015-present: The tracks of sharp Raptor’s claws on the ball
Evolved from a mere league member to the proper title contestant, the Toronto Raptors entered a fresh phase. After changing the team colors to black and red, the rebranding included a new emblem. Following a series of alternative logos we'll discuss later, Sid Lee presented a sleeker and more stylized claw-shaped basketball.
The campaign's slogan is meant to show the Raptors representing and connecting the entire nation of Canada. The timing couldn't be more brilliant: HBO's blockbuster Game of Thrones series featured the noble House of Stark, Wardens of the North. Often challenged by the Southerners, they stood proud and overcame all obstacles. Sid Lee wanted the Raptors fans to feel the identical devotion and emotions. As a result, the campaign proved the team spirit, commitment to excellence, and competitive nature. Furthermore, since The Big Smoke referred to Toronto as nothing to show, the rebranding combined with a league title proved the opposite.
The league was changing its landscape, and the We the North campaign fitted perfectly. The new Toronto Raptors logo retained red but incorporated silver and black, giving a more sophisticated and dynamic appearance. In the emerging digital age, it was ideal for smartphone app icons. In 2020-2021 the logo was refined again, eliminating the silver color and the red rim, as well as changing the ball color to red.
During the mid-2000s, the Toronto Raptors wanted to establish the team among the highest achievers, part of their efforts were experimenting with alternative logos. The team signed Vince Carter in 1998, who took the Raptors to the playoffs in 2000. The then-Rookie of the Year, gold-medal Olympian, and slam dunk champion contributed to the dino's fame. Although his iconic dino jersey is a fan favorite, the franchise started to use "Toronto" or "Raptors" more.
Also, they brought a couple of reinvigorated logos, Dino and early ball are prominent examples. Moreover, the claw appeared as a supporting element. Finally, the team partnered with Drake, a popular musician from Canada, he became linked with the brand's identity and unleashed several design iterations. The acclaimed OVO brand and Gold Owl logo stand out, proving fruitful cooperation between all parties.
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