Quick facts: Founded: 1995 Arena: Air Canada Center Division Championships: 7(2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) Conference Titles: 1(2019) NBA Titles: 1(2019) Playoffs 11 Best Record: 59-23 2017-18 Worst Record: 16-66 1997-98
NBA's return to the Great North:
What's in the name?
Not wanting to plagiarize the Wolves logo, the team held a nation wide competition to name the new team.
The success of the movie Jurassic Park and one of the films main antagonist, the velociraptors, lead to the naming of the new team to being Raptors. But much like the movies, the Raptors in the Toronto logo is not the velociraptor, but rather both are the much bigger and much more vicious utahraptor. The velociraptor was the size of a chicken, while the utahraptor was about 2 meters tall and looked much more like the dinosaurs in the film and in the Raptors logo.
A deal was reached where as the Raptors donated $5 million dollars initially to Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and $1 million to their charity for the loss of income that the Gaming Corporation would sustain, and for their part the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation banned NBA sports betting.
The rules were lifted in 2018 when the NBA started to allow online sports betting.
The Mighty Mouse Era:
The Raptors used the 7th pick on Arizona point guard Damon Stoudamire. The pick was met with boos from the new Raptors fans at the Sky Dome draft party as the fans wanted UCLA forward Ed O'Bannon. Stoudamire though, turned out to be the better player and quickly emerged as the new franchises first star.
In his first season with the Raptors he averaged 19 points per game and won rookie of the year honors. In his second season he became the first Raptor to average 20 points per game.
The Raptors struggled with Stoudamire during his tenure there and the losing started to become a point of contention for the star point guard. Two and a half years into his Raptors career Stoudamire asked for a trade and was shipped to the Portland Trailblazers.
What Could Have Been:
The Raptors actually won the 1996 NBA draft lottery but because they had the agreement they were forced to pick second. The Sixers got the top pick and selected Georgetown's Allen Iverson. The Raptors selected Marcus Camby second overall. Camby turned into one of the best defensive players in the league but he was never an all-star, while Iverson became one of the most accomplished players of his era earning 11 all-star appearances and the 2000-01 NBA MVP.
The Raptors also missed out on future MVP's Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash as well as all-stars Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Antoine Walker, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'Neal and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas.
Carter would lead the Raptors to their first ever playoffs in 2000 and in 2000 would also be the team's first ever selection to the NBA all-star game. Carter would go on to make 5 more all-stars with the Raptors and in 2001 lead the Raptors to their first ever playoff series win a 3-2 series win over the New York Knicks. The Raptors would lose in the second round in 7 games to the Iverson lead Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfortunately, the good times would quickly end for the Raptors. Carter would be plagued by injury issues and his cousin Tracy McGrady would leave the Raptors for the Orlando Magic. After six and half years with the franchise Carter demanded a trade in 2005. The Raptors traded Carter to the New Jersey Nets for less than ideal package of Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and 2 late first rounders.
The All-star game itself was a classic with the west coming just 3 points shy of scoring 200 points in a game. Paul George almost broke Wilt Chamberlain's record for most points in an all-star game (42) when he scored 41 points. and Russell Westbrook became the first player since Bob Pettit to win back-to-back all-star MVP awards.
First NBA Finals outside the United States:
First non-US Champion: