I think we can all agree that “Toronto Raptors” is kind of a silly name for a professional sporting franchise. It’s not just that the name was clearly influenced by the popularity of “Jurassic Park,” that the raptor’s natural habitat seems to be in the Mongolia and China regions of the globe, or that the mascot is based on a number of anatomical inaccuracies … wait, it’s all of those things. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler are like, “Really?”

But it’s not just us American expats who have moved to a strange land who think the name is dopey, it’s also NBA players. And they’ve been thinking it since the very first season the team took the court. Here’s an account from Tynan Grierson, who was working for the Raptors on the court during an early game against the Knicks that was meant to honor the very first NBA game ever played. It’s got a lot of terrible language in it because the quotes are coming from Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason, so please be warned.

Flash forward to the first season of play for the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club (wince) and I’m now working for the team. I’m sandwiched between behemoths Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, leaning heavily on my shirt, tie and hands-free headset to convey an authority I obviously lack. I crane my head skyward to cue Ewing into place and lose track of the 98 year-old Jewish man (not much more than 5 foot 7 from hunch-to-toe) struggling to shuffle alongside stride-for-stride.

All part of a pre-game ceremony to commemorate the first ever NBA game, played in Toronto 50 years prior. Surviving members of the 1946 New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies were paired with their current counterparts; much the way Premier League soccer marches players onto the pitch hand-in-hand with children to symbolize playing a kid’s game, albeit on a grand stage. I gesture to Charles Oakley that he’s free to move to center court and he restrains himself from driving me into the floor like a railroad spike, tightening his giant fist and dragging his own frail franchise forefather in-tow.

All the while, Oakley can’t stop himself barking profanities at the Raptor players across the floor; “Those jerseys come with cum stains on ‘em? Cause they’re the gayest f—in’ things I’ve ever seen.” This in contrast to Anthony Mason’s muttering; “Dinosaurs, brotha? If I was you, I’d f—in’ kill myself.”

Of course, Oakley would go on to wear the Raptors purple and red while Mason would sport teal pinstriped jerseys during his time with the Hornets. What goes around comes around.

That being said, I’m not going to be the one to tell these guys they both looked silly later on in their careers. You can if you want, but I value my life.

Comments (15)

  1. I have to question this guy’s credibility.
    I’m only going by my own fading memory here, but I’m pretty sure I was at that game, and it was in the Raps’ second season, not first. And if I’m not mistaken, the Raps wore Huskies jerseys that night, so there wouldn’t have been gay purple jerseys to mock in the first place.

  2. Charles Oakley needs Grant Hill and Jared Dudley to call time out on him for those comments.

  3. I was at the game as well. The Raptors definitely wore Huskies jerseys that night.

  4. I’ve always loved the team’s name even though the early uniforms were hideous. A group of quick, fearless and savage prehistoric predators always seems like a very appropriate thing to name a basketball team after. Huskies just run around and get whipped all day.

    “hold on t’ya butts!”

  5. It’s always been true some people claim they have got use to the name but it was horrible back then. Marketing people who should not be employed came up with this horrible name based on Jurassic park and the Vancouver team and the Phoenix Hockey team got some terrible jerseys also from those marketing people.

  6. The Raptors seem to get a lot of heat for what really isn’t a bad name at all. The history behind is certainly dubious, but “Raptors” has a nice ring to it. There can be no doubt the inaugural jerseys and colours were horrific to look at, but the basketball claw logo primarily used nowadays is one for the ages – sleek, aggressive and aesthetically pleasing.

    Also, when it comes to NBA team names, you can do a hell of a lot worse than the Raptors – Wizards, Magic, Thunder, and the worst of all time – Bobcats.

  7. Just with to the Huskies and be done with it.

  8. Some folks may be too young to remember that the 90′s was an era of some of the most horrific colour combo’s ever in the history of mankind. The stuff you’d see makes my parents olive coloured appliances and orange tile look fashionable. Looking with todays eyes the jerseys may be tacky, but back then, they were pretty conservative. Watch an episode of Miami Vice for evidence. I mainly remember feeling like we were one step removed from being the mighty ducks in terms of bad marketing tie-ins to Jurassic Park.

  9. I always liked the Raptors name and logo, and i don’t mind their current uniform design, but everyone else seems to hate it

  10. “Raptors” always has and always will be a horrible marketing idea. It is not improved by the fact that there are equally craptastic concepts out there. Although the comments here do speak for the perpetually sorry state of this franchise: “Hey, we’re no worse than the other worst teams in the league, right guys?”

  11. All I know, the marketing worked on me.

    I remember being so excited when Jurassic Park came out.

    I had always been enamored with dinosaurs as a kid. I was, at the time a hockey fan.

    Then the Raps came to town and I switched over to basketball, and have been a HUGE fan of the game ever since.

  12. Charles Oakley should just come out of the closet already, the self-loathing homophobe he is. Then he wouldn’t have to be Mr. Tough Hate Gays!

  13. Or maybe the whole dinosaur name was just an analogy to reflect that Toronto has been around since the beginning (First ABA game was played in Toronto)…once you look at it that way, the name doesn’t seem so bad.

  14. Team was named using naming contest. At least they didn’t go with beavers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Raptors#Creation_of_the_Raptors

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