When Toronto’s new NBA franchise chose its name in 1994, it settled on Raptors — which beat out Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas and Terriers for the title — in part because of the popularity of Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Jurassic Park, a box-office smash and the highest-grossing movie of 1993.
Then, when the Raptors finally took the court for the first time, in 1995, they did so wearing a unique uniform that featured a ridiculous cartoon dinosaur — duds that are either the best or worst of all time, depending on whom you ask.
In the 18 years since, the Raptors have maintained a loyal fan base despite reaching the playoffs just five times, but it’s been mostly a lot of this:
Not surprisingly, the Raptors’ name has grown somewhat stale in that time, and as a result, it may soon become extinct, according to new Raptors CEO Tim Leiweke.
Speaking with members of the Toronto media Tuesday alongside new Raptors GM and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, Leiweke had this to say, via the National Post, when asked about potentially changing the team’s name:
“We’re definitely going to take a look at it. It doesn’t mean we’re committed to it. It means it’s a good conversation. I saw those generic uniforms today in the paper. … That won’t be the uniform, by the way. I can assure you of that. I think we need to have this conversation.”
So a fresh moniker isn’t necessarily imminent, but it sounds like there could certainly be one on the horizon. The Hornets will be changing their name to the Pelicans this year, and the Bobcats will soon be bringing the name Hornets back to Charlotte, so there’s certainly some precedent in such a move.
As for where the Raptors go with their new name: I’d stay away from pop culture references this time. The Toronto Taylor Swifts will never, ever, ever strike fear into the hearts of opponents and Toronto Avengers seems a little contrived.
They need to really put some thought into what it should be, and for the sake of all of us, I hope they’re a little more clever with the new name than the old one.