The Toronto Raptors are at the top of their game and since the 2013-2014 season, they have been coming on strong with the playoff debuts heating up the team and the fans. But do you know everything you should to be the ultimate mega fan? Catch up on the facts here as we flash through the Raptors history and everything you need to know.
The Toronto Raptors were established in 1995, the same year as the Vancouver Grizzlies. The NBA had decided it was finally time to expand into Canada and add these two Canadian teams to their roster. Toronto joined the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division and later became the only official Canadian team to play in the NBA when Vancouver relocated to Memphis to become the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001. The Raptors originally played their home games at the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) until they were moved to their current home, the Air Canada Centre in 1999.
The Raptors struggled fairly hard in their initial years in the NBA. That was until Vince Carter joined the team and started to get some attention. With Vince, the team made the playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002. That is when the attendance started to kick into gear, and the fan base really started to take off. During this time, they only advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals once in 2001. Without playoff progress Vince Carter was eventually traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2004 leaving Chris Bosh to step into his shoes.
With five years of struggling to make the playoffs, the Raptors wouldn’t make a comeback until 2006 – 2007 after a roster revamp and Bryan Colangelo’s start as President and General Manager. That year felt like all the glory of the Vince Carter days with 47 wins and the Atlantic Division title in their hands. But they couldn’t hold it. In 2007-2008 they only made the first round of playoffs and wouldn’t find their full potential until 2013-2014.
We the North
Masai Ujiri stepped in as General Manager in 2013 and put the team to work. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors were in full force again. They returned to the playoffs to win the Atlantic Division title and win the franchise record of 48 games.
With the power team, fan support that had been generating over the previous years, and the rapper Drake stepping in as the teams Global Ambassador, the Raptors were beginning to make serious headlines. And when the marketing rebranding of their image that took place in 2014-2015 incorporated the trendy motto “We the North,” the Raptors were making a storm not just in Canada but across the globe.
The Fight for Glory
Once set in motion, the Raptors have been like a freight train in the Playoffs. In 2014-2015 they won another franchise record of 49 games but were unable to make it past the first round of the playoffs. That was until the next season in 2015-2016 where they not only won a franchise record of 56 games, but also finished in second place for the first time in Raptor history, facing against the strong Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals who would take the NBA title.
All the excitement in the city is back and better than ever, even though the Raptors eventually fell in the playoffs to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If you can’t make it down to Jurassic Park at the ACC next season, check out the game at Rally Sports Bar at any time, where the beer is flowing, the BBQ is sizzling, and the Raptors are roaring.