Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why the Raptors Live in Toronto

If I was completely ignorant of the NBA and was asked to match team names with the cities or locales they represent, I wouldn't think twice about sticking "Utah" with "Raptors." Not only is it logical, as Utah is one of the great dinosaur-bearing states, but it sounds right. There is a dinosaur called Utahraptor, after all. But I'd be wrong. Toronto gets the Raptors and Utah gets the Jazz. The fact that Salt Lake City isn't exactly known for its vibrant jazz scene would confuse me, especially coupled with the fact that glacier-scoured Ontario is not exactly a hotbed of Mesozoic fossils. So what gives?

It's pretty simple, really. In the seventies, a struggling team called the New Orleans Jazz - that's a sensible name - was bought and moved to Salt Lake City, and it was decided that the name would stay.

In the mid-nineties, the NBA decided to expand into Canada. One of the new teams was called the Vancouver Grizzlies. Another sensible name. The other team, however, was named by a national contest. The world was still trying to kick a powerful post-Jurassic Park hangover, and voila. The Toronto Raptors were born.

Their mascot, you'll be happy to know, is simply known as... The Raptor. Also, I wish that there were more photos of me from my teenage years. I was a big Chicago Bulls fan, but even after I stopped caring much about basketball, I got myself a Raptors tee shirt. I mean... it's a fricking sports team named after a fricking dinosaur.

UPDATED: My wife pointed out that Utah is not a "city," per se, so I changed that language. And added the bit about my handsome Raptors tee. And, my wife is awesome.


  1. I'm not an NBA fan, nor have I ever really cared for Basketball, but after a few decades of osmosis I can pretty reliably match an NBA team to its home city. But I thought the Grizzlies was a hockey team and I've never even heard of the Raptors.

    NBA marketing fail?

  2. The NBA has a way of doing that... I think I'd been watching for a few years before I realized there was a team called the Kings. My interest waxed and waned with one Michael Jordan, mostly because I grew up near Chicago... and he was kind of a big deal.

    If I ever name a sports team, I'm totally calling it the trilobites. Or the crinoids. I ain't even going vertebrate.

  3. The European football (soccer) system has an interesting way to spread suspense throughoiut the league. Relagation. THose at the bottom are in danger of dropping down into the second league. This widens participation down to an amateur level, and makes it exciting not only at the top of the charts, but also at the bottom.

    As for the Raptor...

  4. I live in Toronto and I remember when the name was picked. I thought it was a bit trendy at the time, but the bigger scandal were the colours: silver, red, purple and black.

    Every other team in Toronto has blue and white. The Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey) the Blue Jays (Baseball) and the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League (blue white and silver). Even the University of Toronto has blue and white.


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