The Toronto Raptors are a Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto. The team is a member of the NBA's Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. They play at the Scotiabank Arena, which they share with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Raptors were founded in 1995, alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. Since the 2001–02 season, the Raptors have been the only Canadian-based team in the league, as the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis, Tennessee.
Like most expansion teams, the Raptors struggled in their early years; but after the acquisition of Vince Carter through a draft-day trade in 1998, the team set league attendance records and made the NBA Playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Carter was instrumental in leading the team to their first playoff series win in 2001, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, however, they failed to make significant progress, and he was traded in 2004 to the New Jersey Nets.
After Carter left, Chris Bosh emerged as the team leader, but they continued to struggle. However, with the appointment of Bryan Colangelo as General Manager and a revamp of the roster for the 2006–07 season, they qualified for their first playoff berth in five years and captured their first division title. In the following season, they advanced to the playoffs again. In a bid to persuade Bosh to stay beyond the final year of his contract, the team had a roster overhaul in the 2009–10 season. However, their attempt to make the playoffs was unsuccessful and Bosh signed with the Miami Heat in July 2010, ushering in a new era of rebuilding for the Raptors.
Masai Ujiri replaced Colangelo in 2013 and helped herald a new era of success, led by backcourt duo Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors returned to the playoffs the following year and became a consistent playoff team every year of Ujiri's tenure. Under Ujiri, the team also won five Division titles and registered their most successful regular season in 2018. However, the team's failure to reach beyond the Conference Finals prompted Ujiri to fire head coach Dwane Casey shortly after the Raptors' third consecutive playoff defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers to conduct the high-profile trade of DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green later that summer, as well as acquiring Marc Gasol before the trade deadline. In the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Raptors won their first Eastern Conference title and made their first appearance in the NBA Finals, where they would go on to win their first NBA championship in franchise history, when they defeated the defending two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors in six games, ending their chances of a three-peat.
- 1 Arenas
- 2 Franchise history
- 2.1 Creation of the Raptors
- 2.2 1995–1999: Struggles of a new franchise
- 2.3 1999–2002: Success during the Vince Carter era
- 2.4 2002–2006: Another period of struggle
- 2.5 2006–2010: The Chris Bosh era
- 2.6 2010–2013: Rebuilding
- 2.7 2013–2018: DeRozan and Lowry era
- 2.8 2018–2019: Arrival of Kawhi Leonard and first NBA championship
- 2.9 2019–present: Pandemic-shortened seasons and Tampa relocation
- 3 Logo
- 4 Statistics and records
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Individual awards
- 7 Fanbase and Marketing
- 8 Community service
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- SkyDome (1995–1999)
- Maple Leaf Gardens (1995–1999)
- Copps Coliseum (1995–1999)
- Scotiabank Arena (formerly Air Canada Centre) (1999–present)
- Amalie Arena (2020–2021)
Creation of the Raptors
The Toronto Raptors were established on November 4, 1993, when the NBA, as part of its expansion into Canada, awarded its 28th franchise to a group headed by Toronto businessman John Bitove for a then record expansion fee of $125 million. The Raptors, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, played their first games in 1995 and were the first NBA teams based in Canada since the 1946–47 Toronto Huskies.
The initial sentiment was in favor of reviving the Huskies nickname, but team management realized it would be nearly impossible to design a logo that did not look too much like that of the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a result, a nationwide contest was held to help name the team and develop their colors and logo. Over 2,000 entries were narrowed down to ten prospects: Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers. The final selection—Toronto Raptors—was unveiled on Canadian national television on 15 May 1994; the choice was influenced by the popularity of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. The name Raptors is a common informal name for the velociraptor, a swift medium-sized dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur. On 24 May 1994, the team's logo and first General Manager (GM), Isiah Thomas were revealed at a press conference. The team's colours of bright red, purple, black, and silver were also revealed; "Naismith" silver was chosen as an ode to Canadian James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. The team originally competed in the Central Division, and before the inaugural season began, sales of Raptors merchandise ranked seventh in the league, marking a successful return of professional basketball to Canada.
As GM, Isiah Thomas quickly staffed the management positions with his own personnel, naming long-time Detroit Pistons assistant Brendan Malone as the Raptors' head coach. The team's roster was then filled as a result of an expansion draft in 1995. Following a coin flip, Toronto was given the first choice and selected Chicago Bulls point guard and three-point specialist B. J. Armstrong. Armstrong refused to report for training and Thomas promptly traded him to the Golden State Warriors for power forwards Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander. Thomas then selected a wide range of players in the expansion draft, including veterans Jerome Kersey, Willie Anderson and his former Pistons teammate John "Spider" Salley.
Subsequent to the expansion draft, the Raptors landed the seventh pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, behind their fellow 1995 expansion club, the Vancouver Grizzlies. Thomas selected Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of the University of Arizona, around whom the franchise would seek to construct its near future. Yet the selection of Stoudamire was met with boos from fans at the 1995 NBA Draft at the SkyDome in Toronto, many of whom wanted Ed O'Bannon of UCLA, an NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player.
1995–1999: Struggles of a new franchise
In the team's first official NBA game, Alvin Robertson scored the first NBA points in Raptors history, while Stoudamire recorded 10 points and 10 assists in a 94–79 victory over the New Jersey Nets. The Raptors concluded their inaugural season with a 21–61 win-loss record, although they were one of the few teams to defeat the Chicago Bulls, who set an all-time NBA best 72–10 win–loss regular-season record. With averages of 19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game, Stoudamire also won the 1995–96 Rookie of the Year Award.
In the 1996–97 season the team improved on its win record by nine games. They selected centre Marcus Camby with the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. By the end of the season, Camby earned a berth on the NBA's All-Rookie Team while Stoudamire continued to play well, averaging 20.2 points and 8.8 assists per game. As in the previous season, the Raptors were one of only 11 teams to topple the eventual 1997 Champions, the Chicago Bulls. The Raptors also defeated the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Miami Heat, all of whom were eventual Conference finalists. However, the Raptors struggled against teams who were not of championship-caliber, including three losses to the 15–67 Boston Celtics.
Early in the 1997–98 season, John Bitove had sold his ownership interest in the team and the team suffered numerous injuries and slid into a 17-game losing streak. GM Isiah Thomas resigned after his ownership bid for the Raptors failed and was replaced by Glen Grunwald. With Thomas gone, Stoudamire immediately sought a trade. On 13 February 1998, he was shipped to the Portland Trail Blazers along with Walt Williams and Carlos Rogers for Kenny Anderson, Alvin Williams, Gary Trent, two first-round draft choices, a second-round draft choice and cash. Anderson refused to report to Toronto and was traded to the Celtics with Žan Tabak and Popeye Jones for Chauncey Billups, Dee Brown, Roy Rogers, and John Thomas. When the trading deadline was over, the Raptors became the youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.6. They had five rookies on their roster, including the 18-year-old Tracy McGrady, who at the time was the youngest player in the NBA. The inexperienced Raptors struggled throughout the season and their regular season record regressed to 16–66.
1999–2002: Success during the Vince Carter era
During the 1998 NBA Draft, in what became a defining move for the franchise, Grunwald traded the team's 4th overall pick Antawn Jamison to the Golden State Warriors for Vince Carter, who was selected 5th overall. To bring further credibility to the Raptors, Grunwald traded Camby to the New York Knicks for Charles Oakley, a veteran with playoff experience. Kevin Willis, another veteran acquired from the trade, solidified the centre position, while the coaching staff temporarily rotated Dee Brown, Alvin Williams, and Doug Christie to play point guard. Both Christie and Williams became talented players in their own right; Christie developed into one of the elite defenders in the NBA, while Williams improved his play on the offensive end. New coach Butch Carter was also credited with much of the team's turnaround during the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season. Although the team did not make the playoffs, many were optimistic about the impressive performances of Rookie of the Year Carter and a much improved McGrady.
During the 1999 NBA Draft, believing that the Raptors still lacked a strong frontcourt presence, Grunwald traded first-round draft pick Jonathan Bender for veteran power forward Antonio Davis of the Indiana Pacers. In the backcourt, Vince Carter, Christie, Williams and Dell Curry at the shooting guard position and Williams and Muggsy Bogues at point guard. The rotation of Davis, Oakley, and Willis in the frontcourt and Carter's and McGrady's improvement helped the team make its first-ever playoff appearance, fulfilling a promise Carter had made to fans in the previous season. Lacking significant post-season experience, Toronto was defeated 3–0 by the New York Knicks in the first round. Nonetheless, team improvements and the rise of Carter—who emphatically won the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest—attracted many fans around Toronto, many of whom were previously not basketball fans. The season was also the first full year played at the Air Canada Centre, after having played four years at the cavernous SkyDome, which was better suited to baseball and Canadian football. Overall, the Raptors concluded the season with a 45–37 record and ranked third in the Central Division.
Still, playoff failures and Butch Carter's media altercations surrounding Camby led Grunwald to replace Carter prior to the 2000–01 season with Lenny Wilkens, a Hall of Fame coach and player with more than 30 years of coaching experience. The team roster was also largely revamped, including the signing of veteran playmaker Mark Jackson on a four y-ar contract. When Alvin Williams later emerged as a clutch performer, Jackson was traded to allow Williams more playing time. Vince Carter, who was originally assigned the small forward position, became more adept at playing the shooting guard position, and as a result, Doug Christie, the former shooting guard, was traded for forward Corliss Williamson. Williamson had a disappointing season and was replaced by defensive workhorse Jerome Williams. Although McGrady and Carter had showed impressive improvement at the same time, much of the media and fan attention was focused on Carter, who was the flashier player. Furthermore, McGrady and Carter shared the same natural position (small forward), making it impossible to keep both. Therefore, the Raptors management decided to trade McGrady to the Orlando Magic during the 2000 off-season for a first-round draft pick in a sign-and-trade deal.
As predicted by analysts, the team easily secured a playoff berth. Toronto defeated New York 3–2 in the first round, and Wilkens was praised for having Williams defend shooting guard Allan Houston and Carter defend small forward Latrell Sprewell, the two major Knicks offensive threats. The next series against the Philadelphia 76ers was a landmark for the Raptors in terms of performance and entertainment value. The Sixers relied on Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo for their respective offensive and defensive abilities, along with steady help from Aaron McKie. Toronto was the more balanced team with Carter, Williams and Davis providing much of the offensive game and Chris Childs and Jerome Williams providing the defensive pressure. Philadelphia took full advantage of the mismatch at the center while Toronto counteracted with a fast break offences with their shorter but quicker players. The series came down to the last few seconds of Game 7, when Carter's potential series-winning shot rolled off the rim, and the Sixers won the series in seven games. Carter was later widely criticized for attending his graduation ceremony at the University of North Carolina on the morning of Game 7. Despite the loss, the season is generally considered a watermark for the franchise, given the Raptors' best-ever regular-season record (47–35), and finishing second in the Central Division.
The relocation of the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001, as the Memphis Grizzlies, left Toronto as the NBA's only Canadian team. To ensure that Vince Carter would re-sign with the team, long-term contracts were given to Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams and Antonio Davis, while former NBA MVP centre Hakeem Olajuwon was signed to provide Carter with good support. The Raptors appeared to be on their way to another competitive season, with a 29–21 record going into the All-Star break and with Carter the top vote-getter for the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year. Carter then suffered a bout of tendinitis, forcing him to miss the All-Star Game and the rest of the season, and without their franchise player, Toronto lost 13 consecutive games. However, they were able to win 12 of their last 14 games, clinching a playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. The comeback featured some of the Raptors' best defencs of the season, along with inspired performances by Antonio Davis and Keon Clark.
Despite Toronto's improved defensive performances, Carter's offence was sorely missed in the first-round series against the second-seeded Detroit Pistons. In the first game, Detroit overwhelmed Toronto 83–65, largely due to Ben Wallace's strong performance of 19 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. Detroit also won Game 2, but Toronto won the next two games at home to force a deciding and tightly contested Game 5 in Detroit. With 10.7 seconds left in the game, and the Raptors down 85–82 with possession of the ball, Chris Childs raced down the court and shot a three-pointer that missed badly, apparently trying to draw a foul on the play, instead of passing to a wide-open Dell Curry. In a post-game locker room interview, Childs repeatedly insisted that the Raptors had been down four points, not three. The Raptors' late-season surge was thus marred by a disappointing playoff exit; the Olajuwon experiment was also a bust, with the 39-year-old averaging career lows in minutes, points and rebounds. Furthermore, Childs, Clark, and Curry left the team, ensuring a new-look team for the next season.
2002–2006: Another period of struggle
The 2002–03 season began with the same optimism that the Raptors exhibited in three consecutive playoff seasons, although it faded early. Carter, while voted as a starter in the 2003 All-Star Game, suffered a spate of injuries. Antonio Davis expressed disinterest in Toronto, and Wilkens' laissez-faire attitude created a team that lacked the motivation and spirit of the previous years' teams. The team was ravaged with injuries, losing an NBA record number of player games due to injury. Furthermore, the Raptors recorded the dubious honour of being the only team in NBA history to not dress 12 players for a single game in a season. Wilkens was criticized heavily by the Toronto media for his inability to clamp down on his players when necessary, especially given this was the year that Wilkens overtook Bill Fitch for the most losses by an NBA coach, with his loss total getting dangerously close to his win total. The Raptors ended the season with a 24–58 record and Wilkens was sacked. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, when the Raptors were given the 4th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and brought another star to Toronto in Chris Bosh.
Canadian country singer Shania Twain helped launch the new red Raptors alternate road uniform at the start of the 2003–04 season, and the jerseys made their debut in a 90–87 season-opening victory on 29 October 2003 against the defending Conference Champion New Jersey Nets. The Raptors were inconsistent throughout the season, partly due to injuries to key players Jalen Rose, Alvin Williams and Carter, with Davis and Jerome Williams traded early in the season for Rose and Donyell Marshall. On 1 November 2003, the Raptors even tied an NBA record for fewest points scored in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing 73–56. After 50 games, Toronto was 25–25 and in a position to make the playoffs, but injuries to key players again sent the Raptors plummeting down the standings. Rose, Carter, and Williams all suffered injuries as the Raptors struggled to a record of 8–24 in their remaining games. The Raptors fired GM Glen Grunwald on 1 April 2004, after the team ended the season three games short of the eighth and final playoff spot. The notable individual season performances were Carter's 22.5 ppg, Marshall's 10.7 rpg and rookie Bosh, a 6–10 forward-centre who averaged 11.5 ppg and 7.4 rRPGand was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. In this transitionary season, the Raptors improved their regular -eason record to 33–49.
Head coach Kevin O'Neill was fired immediately after Grunwald's termination, after making some remarks which were taken to question the team's commitment to winning. He was replaced by Sam Mitchell, a former NBA forward and assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Rob Babcock was named GM on 7 June 2004, alongside the appointments of Wayne Embry as senior advisor and Alex English as director of player development.
In the 2004–05 season, the team moved into the Atlantic Division. Babcock picked Rafael Araújo—selected eighth overall—in the 2004 NBA Draft, in a move that was criticized by fans and analysts, considering highly touted swingman Andre Iguodala was drafted with the next pick. Babcock signed point guard Rafer Alston to a five-year deal. After Vince Carter's annual charity game, Babcock implicitly revealed to the media that Carter's agent had asked for a trade, confirming Carter's discontent. The Toronto Sun reported that Carter felt he was being misled by the Raptors' hierarchy during the general manager search and had concluded that as long as the managerial structure at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. remained intact, the Raptors would never be an elite team. Carter's trade came to fruition mid-season, ending his six-year tenure.  Toronto received Alonzo Mourning, forwards Eric Williams and Aaron Williams and two mid-to-late future first round picks from the New Jersey Nets. Following the trade, Carter acknowledged he had not tried his hardest in the past few seasons. Mourning chose to not report to Toronto, forcing Babcock to buy out the remainder of his contract at a reported $10 million, leaving him free to sign with the Miami Heat. Eric and Aaron Williams were supposed to add defensive toughness and rebounding, but were generally under-utilized for the entire season. Analysts had predicted Babcock got the bad end of the deal, and the trade eventually cost him his job.
Carter's departure heralded a new era for Toronto. Bosh stepped up to the role of franchise player and performed well in his sophomore campaign, ranking tenth in the league in defensive rebounds. In contrast to Bosh's emergence, Araújo struggled to keep a spot in the line-up and became unpopular with fans and local media. Although the ACC was often well attended, due to the Raptors' 22–19 home record, their inability to win on the road (11–30) and a poor defensive record made Sam Mitchell's first year as head coach unimpressive. Additionally, Mitchell had problems dealing with Rafer Alston, who openly expressed his unhappiness with Mitchell in a post-game interview. Later in the season, Alston was suspended two games for "conduct detrimental to the team" for reportedly walking out of a scrimmage during practice. Notwithstanding the unrest, in their first season competing in the Atlantic Division, Toronto maintained the same regular season record of 33–49 as the previous season.
The Raptors continued to rebuild during the 2005 NBA Draft, selecting Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham, Roko Ukić and Uroš Slokar, with Villanueva's selection being very controversial amongst basketball pundits and Raptors fans alike. The Raptors started their training camp by trading Alston to the Houston Rockets for Mike James, and signing free agent José Calderón as a backup for James. Despite the infusion of new players, Toronto's overall 2005–06 season was a disappointment; they set a franchise record by losing their first nine games and 15 out of their first 16 games. With losses mounting and media scrutiny intensifying, the Raptors hired legendary ex-Purdue coach Gene Keady as an assistant off the bench to help develop the young Raptors team, as well as establish a defensive persona for the team.
On 15 January 2006, the Raptors set a franchise points record in a 129–103 win over the Knicks when Villanueva hit a three-pointer late in the game, but less than a week later, the Raptors gave up an 18-point lead against the Los Angeles Lakers, and allowed Lakers star Kobe Bryant to score 81 points, the second highest single-game total in NBA history. With media scrutiny intensifying once more and the Raptors entrenched at the bottom of the league in defensive field goal percentage, Toronto fired GM Rob Babcock.
The 2005–06 season was not a total disaster. Villanueva's play impressed both fans and former critics as he came in second in NBA Rookie of the Year and recorded 48 points in an overtime loss to Milwaukee Bucks, the most points scored by any rookie in franchise history and the most by a rookie in the NBA since 1997. Bosh was also named a reserve forward for the Eastern All-Star Team in the 2006 game, becoming the third Raptor after Vince Carter and Antonio Davis to appear in an All-Star Game. On 27 February 2006, the team named Bryan Colangelo, the 2004–05 NBA Executive of the Year, the President and GM of the Raptors. Known for his success in transforming a lottery Phoenix team into a 62-win offensive juggernaut, his hiring gave hope to many fans. Still, Toronto ended the season weakly when Bosh suffered a season-ending thumb injury. The Raptors lost 10 in a row after Bosh's injury and finished the season with the fifth worst record (27–55) in the NBA.
2006–2010: The Chris Bosh era
The 2006–07 season represented a watershed year for the Raptors franchise. The roster was overhauled, including the selection of 2006 NBA Draft number one pick Andrea Bargnani, the acquisition of point guard T. J. Ford in exchange for Charlie Villanueva, and the signing of shooting guard Anthony Parker and small forward Jorge Garbajosa. Bosh was given a three-year contract extension, while Maurizio Gherardini of Benetton Treviso was hired as the club's vice-president and assistant general manager.
The first half of the season produced mixed results as Toronto struggled towards the .500 mark. However, Toronto ended the regular season with a 47–35 record, securing the third seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2007 NBA Playoffs along with the Atlantic Division title, as well as homecourt advantage for the first time in franchise history. Bosh recorded career-highs in ppg and rpg and was voted to start in the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. The Raptors were also praised for their improved defense, ball-sharing and tremendous team chemistry. Colangelo, Gherardini, and Mitchell were credited with Toronto's turnaround this season, which was one of the best in NBA history in terms of league standing and defensive ranking. Mitchell was subsequently named the 2006–07 NBA Coach of the Year, the first coach in Raptors history to receive the honour, while Colangelo was named 2006–07 Executive of the Year. On 24 April 2007, the Raptors won their first playoff game in five seasons, with an 89–83 victory over the New Jersey Nets, but lost the series 4–2.
Several changes to the roster were made before the 2007–08 campaign as Toronto sought to reproduce the same form as the previous campaign. Most notably, the Raptors acquired Carlos Delfino in a trade with Detroit for two second round draft picks, and signed Jamario Moon and three-point specialist Jason Kapono as free agents. On the other hand, veteran swingman Morris Peterson joined the New Orleans Hornets. Despite being defending division champions, the Raptors were widely tipped as outside contenders for the division and conference titles. Bargnani's inability to play well consistently, coupled with injuries to Garbajosa (75 games), Bosh (15 games) and Ford (31 games), derailed the possibility of a smooth campaign as the Raptors chalked up six fewer wins than the previous season. The Raptors ceded the division title to Boston, and qualified for the 2008 NBA Playoffs as the sixth seed where they were pitted against the Orlando Magic, but were eliminated in five games. Whereas the preceding season was considered a success, the 2007–08 campaign was considered a disappointment. Weaknesses in Toronto's game—rebounding, defence, and a lack of a swingman—were brought into sharp focus during the playoffs, and changes were expected to be made to the roster.
As it turned out, a blockbuster trade was agreed in principle before the 2008–09 campaign: six-time All-Star Jermaine O'Neal was acquired from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Ford (who had become expendable with the emergence of Calderón), Rasho Nesterović, Maceo Baston, and Roy Hibbert, the 17th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, giving the Raptors a potential boost in the frontcourt. Meanwhile, Bargnani, who had spent the summer working on his interior game, was projected to come off the bench. The Raptors also introduced a black alternate road jersey for the season similar to the earlier purple design that was dropped a few seasons ago. It had a maple leaf featured on the back neck of the jersey, symbolizing the Raptors as "Canada's team". Despite the introduction of O'Neal, who brought home the rebounds and the blocks, and a much improved Bargnani, the Raptors were too inconsistent. Following a 8–9 start to the season, Mitchell was fired and replaced by long-time assistant Jay Triano. Triano tweaked with the starting line-up to no avail as the Raptors fell to 21–34 prior to the All-Star break. O'Neal and Moon were then traded to Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, but with the losses mounting, the Raptors soon fell out of the playoffs picture, and were eliminated from contention with seven games of the regular season remaining. The Raptors eventually finished with a 33–49 record and headed into the next season with a potential overhaul of the core: Marion could become a free agent; Bosh could become one after 2009–10; Parker would soon turn 35; Bargnani had his breakthrough season. On 12 May 2009, Triano was given a three-year term for the position of head coach.
The inevitable roster shakeup for the 2009–10 season began when Kapono was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for the aggressive veteran forward Reggie Evans. Toronto then drafted DeMar DeRozan with the ninth pick, enabling them to fill a spot on the wings. This was followed by the signing of free agent Hedo Türkoğlu, which in turn led to a sign-and-trade agreement involving four teams, with Toronto landing wing players Devean George (later traded for Marco Belinelli) and Antoine Wright, while releasing Marion, Kris Humphries and Nathan Jawai. Around the same time, Parker headed for the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Indiana point guard Jarrett Jack was added and Nesterovič brought back to provide cover for the big men. Finally, Delfino and Ukić were moved to the Milwaukee Bucks for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems. It became increasingly clear that Colangelo, in securing a credible nucleus for the future, was doing this to persuade Bosh to stay beyond 2010. While the Raptors were off to a sluggish start, they picked up the pace around the All-Star break, reaching a season-high six games above .500. An injury to Bosh after the break coincided with Toronto's descent down the standings from the fifth to the eighth seed, and they finally relinquished their spot to Chicago a few games before the regular season ended.
Before the 2010–11 season began, there was much anticipation around the league over the fates of an elite pack of free agents, featuring the likes of Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Amar'e Stoudemire. Bosh and James eventually chose to converge in Miami with Wade, and the sign-and-trade transaction that ensued resulted in the Raptors receiving two first-round draft picks and a trade exception from Miami. Prior to this, Toronto had drafted Ed Davis, also a left-handed power forward like Bosh. After Bosh left, Colangelo sought to trade Calderón, Evans and the disenchanted Türkoğlu for Tyson Chandler, Leandro Barbosa, and Boris Diaw, but the trade involving Chandler collapsed at the last minute, as Chandler was traded to the Dallas Mavericks instead. Belinelli was then traded to New Orleans Hornets for Julian Wright, and 13 games into the season, Jack, David Andersen, and Marcus Banks to New Orleans for Peja Stojaković and Jerryd Bayless. Bosh's first return to Toronto was received to a chorus of boos, but not as nearly as harsh as what former Raptors Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter received upon their respective returns. Without Bosh, Toronto as a team regressed and were only able to secure 22 wins in the regular season.
Dwane Casey, an assistant coach with the Mavericks, was hired as the new head coach of Toronto before the 2011–12 season. The Raptors used their number five pick to select Jonas Valančiūnas, a centre from Lithuania in the 2011 NBA draft. The season was shortened by 16 regular season games due to the 2011 NBA lockout, and the Raptors finished the season with a 23–43 record. During the 2012 off-season, Colangelo tried to lure Canadian free agent and two-time MVP Steve Nash, who had become a free agent after playing for the Phoenix Suns, to play for the Raptors. When Nash joined the Los Angeles Lakers instead, the Raptors acquired point guard Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets for a future first round pick. Lowry, combined with Valančiūnas and the 8th pick in the 2012 draft Terrence Ross, represented the next phase of the re-building process. On January 30, 2013, the Raptors acquired Memphis Grizzlies star Rudy Gay and centre Hamed Haddadi as well as Pistons player Austin Daye in a three-way deal that sent Calderón to the Detroit Pistons and Davis, along with Pistons veteran Tayshaun Prince and a second round pick to the Grizzlies. Haddadi was later traded, along with a second round pick, to Phoenix in exchange for guard Sebastian Telfair. The 2012–13 season was the first season since 2009–10 that the Raptors finished the season with a winning home record (21–20), despite their overall losing record (34–48).
2013–2018: DeRozan and Lowry era
During the 2013 off-season, new General Manager Masai Ujiri traded Bargnani to the New York Knicksfor Marcus Camby,Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a future first round draft pick, and two future second-round picks; Camby and Richardson were both waived shortly after the trade. The Raptors also added Tyler Hansbrough, D. J. Augustin, Dwight Buycks, and Austin Daye via free agency. On 9 December 2013, the Raptors traded Gay, Quincy Acy, and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings forJohn Salmons, Greivis Vásquez, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes, and waived Augustin. The Raptors were 6–12 before the Gay trade; after the trade, they went on a 10–3 run as they maintained their lead in the division, and rose above the .500 mark for the first time in almost three years. The Raptors entered the All-Star break with a 28–24 record, and DeRozan was also selected to play in the All-Star game, is only the fourth ever Raptor to do so. On March 28, 2014, the Raptors clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 after beating the Boston Celtics 105–103. On April 11, 2014, the Raptors lost to the New York Knicks 108–100, but since division rival Brooklyn lost to the Atlanta Hawks the same night, the Raptors became Atlantic Division champions for the first time since 2007. They finished the regular season with a franchise-high 48 wins (.585), going 42–22 (.656) after the Gay trade, the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors faced the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007, when the Nets were located in New Jersey. Toronto nearly advanced to the next round, but Paul Pierce blocked a potential game-winner by Lowry in Game 7. In the summer of 2014, it was revealed that the Raptors were in discussion with the Rochester Razorsharks of the Premier Basketball League about forming a partnership in which the team would join the D-League and serve as the Raptors' exclusive affiliate at the 2015–16 season at the earliest. During the 2014–15 season, the Raptors were off to their best start in franchise history: a then-Eastern Conference-leading 24–8 record.
On March 27, 2015, the Raptors clinched the Atlantic division title with a 94–83 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the second consecutive year that the Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title. On April 11, 2015, the Raptors beat the Miami Heat, Toronto's first road win over the Heat since November 19, 2008, ending a ten-game slide on Miami's home floor. The win was Toronto's 48th of the season and 22nd on the road, both tying franchise records. Four days later, the Raptors broke their franchise record with their 49th win of the season. After the 2014–15 season, Lou Williams won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, becoming the first Raptor to do so. The Raptors faced the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2015 playoffs and lost four straight games as the Wizards swept the Raptors.
On June 25, 2015, the Raptors selected Delon Wright with their first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft, along with Norman Powell in the second round. On June 29, the Raptors announced their new NBA G League (then known as the NBA D-League) team, the Mississauga-based Raptors 905, which began play in the 2015–16 season. The Raptors added DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, and Luis Scola via free agency.
The Raptors opened a new practice facility, originally known as the BioSteel Centre in Exhibition Place, on February 10, 2016. The Raptors hosted the 2016 NBA All-Star Game on February 14, 2016 and its associated weekend for the first time in its history. With a 105–97 win at home against the Atlanta Hawks on March 30, 2016, the Raptors attained their first -ver 50-win season. The following day the Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title for the third consecutive season as a result of a Boston Celtics loss against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 56–26 record became, at the time, the best Raptors regular season ever, fourth overall in the league and second only to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. Entering the 2016 playoffs as the East's second seed, the Raptors were pushed to seven games by the Indiana Pacers, but won their first playoff series in 15 years. Another seven-game series against the Miami Heat ensued, which Toronto also won. The Raptors, who were one of the four teams that never reached the NBA Conference Finals in their histories, appeared in the third round for the first time in their twenty-first season, facing the Cleveland Cavaliers, in which they ultimately lost the series 4–2. The Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals and won their first NBA championship over the 73-win Golden State Warriors, in which they became the first ever team in NBA Finals history to overcome a 3–1 series deficit and win the NBA Finals.
In preparation for their title push, the Raptors conducted a series of trades, including on February 14, 2017, when Terrence Ross and a first-round pick were traded for Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic, and on February 23, 2017, when Jared Sullinger and two second-round picks were traded for PJ Tucker. During the 2017 NBA playoffs, the third-seeded Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks during the first round in six games, but were swept by the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round in four games.
On January 1, 2018, DeMar DeRozan scored a franchise-record 52 points to help the Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 131–127 in overtime, matching the team record with their 12th consecutive home victory. DeRozan became the third player in Raptors history to score 50 or more in a single game—the others being Vince Carter and Terrence Ross, who each had 51. On March 7, 2018, Toronto became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot in the 2017–18 season, with a 121–119 overtime win over the Detroit Pistons in Detroit, and set a new franchise record in earliest playoff qualification, doing so in only their 64th game of the season. On April 6, 2018, the Raptors became Eastern Conference regular season champions, securing the number one seed for the first time in franchise history with a 92–73 win over the Indiana Pacers, in the process also setting new records for single-season wins at 57 and home wins with 33, with three games remaining on the schedule. The Raptors finished the regular season with a franchise-record 59 wins, which was the second-best overall in the league behind only the Houston Rockets.
The Raptors faced off the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs, a rematch of the 2015 playoffs. The Raptors defeated the Wizards 4–2. The Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, becoming the first number one seed to get swept before the Conference Finals since 1969. Despite winning Coach of the Year, Casey was subsequently fired as coach on May 11. Nick Nurse was promoted to replace Casey as head coach on June 14.
2018–2019: Arrival of Kawhi Leonard and first NBA championship
Toronto's roster underwent two major changes during the 2018–19 season. First, on July 18, DeRozan was traded, along with Jakob Pöltl and a protected 2019 first round draft pick, to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard was a two-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, but owing to the short length of his contract, there was uncertainty over his longer-term future with the franchise. Secondly, during the trade deadline, the Raptors traded Jonas Valančiūnas, Delon Wright, C. J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol—another multiple All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year—and signed Jeremy Lin shortly thereafter. The Raptors got off to a 6–0 start, a franchise record. Winning their 16th game on November 23, the Raptors broke their franchise record for the best start through 20 games with a 16–4 record. They reached the 20-win mark quicker than any time in their history when they won the 24th game of their season on December 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland. On January 13, 2019, the Toronto Raptors broke the record for most points scored in franchise history after beating the Washington Wizards in Washington 140–138 points after double overtime.
Despite resting Leonard for more than 20 games due to his injury from the previous season, the Raptors finished the regular season with the second seed in the East, and the second-best record in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors faced the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, defeating them in five games. In the following round, the Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in a tightly contested seven-game series. In the closing seconds of Game 7 with the game tied, Leonard hit the game-winning 15-foot buzzer-beater to lift the Raptors to a 92–90 victory—the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA playoff history. They went on to face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. After losing the first two games in Milwaukee, Toronto won the next four, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, and their opponents were the defending two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, who were making their fifth consecutive finals appearance and featured multiple All-Stars, were the favourites to win, and hoped to become the first team since the 2000–2002 Los Angeles Lakers to accomplish a threepeat. However, the Raptors earned their first NBA championship in franchise history by defeating the Warriors in six games, with Leonard being named Finals MVP for the second time in his career. In doing so, the Raptors became the first non-American team to win the NBA title and the first non-American team to win a championship in any of the four major North American sports leagues since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993, ending a 25-year-long drought from Canada-based major professional sports teams.
2019–present: Pandemic-shortened seasons and Tampa relocation
The fear that Leonard would depart after only one season materialised when he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. Nonetheless, the Raptors managed to win 53 games in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic to secure the second seed. Their winning percentage (73.6%) was the best in franchise history, and the season also saw the elevation of Pascal Siakam to an All-NBA Player and Nurse being named as Coach of the Year. In the playoffs—which began later than usual in August, at the "Bubble" in Bay Lake, Florida near Orlando—the Raptors began their title defense by sweeping the Brooklyn Nets 4–0 in the first round. They went down 0–2 against the Boston Celtics in the next round, before OG Anunoby scored a buzzer-beater to win Toronto the third game. The series eventually went to seven games, with Boston prevailing in Game 7 92–87 to end the Raptors' title defense and season.
Due to travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raptors have been unable to host games at their home venue, Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto since March 2020 and have been playing their home games for the 2020–21 season at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. On February 28, 2021, due to NBA's COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, for the first time in the season for Toronto, the game between the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls had been postponed. They did not play again until March 3, but with five players missing due to the safety protocols, including Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, as well as head coach Nick Nurse, Toronto lost 129–105 to the Detroit Pistons.
The season saw a massive regression for the Raptors, and on May 10, 2021, the Raptors were eliminated from playoff contention, ending their seven-year playoff streak, missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2012–13 season, and ended the regular season with a 27–45 record, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Statistics and records
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|1999-00||45||37||.549||Lost First Round||New York 3, Toronto 0|
|2000-01||47||35||.573||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Toronto 3, New York 2|
Philadelphia 4, Toronto 3
|2001-02||42||40||.512||Lost First Round||Detroit 3, Toronto 2|
|2006-07||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||New Jersey 4, Toronto 2|
|2007-08||41||41||.500||Lost First Round||Orlando 4, Toronto 1|
|2013-14||48||34||.585||Lost First Round||Brooklyn 4, Toronto 3|
|2014-15||49||33||.598||Lost First Round||Washington 4, Toronto 0|
|2015-16||56||26||.683||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Toronto 4, Indiana 3|
Toronto 4, Miami 3
Cleveland 4, Toronto 2
|2016-17||51||31||.622||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Toronto 4, Milwaukee 2|
Cleveland 4, Toronto 0
|2017-18||59||23||.720||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Toronto 4, Washington 2|
Cleveland 4, Toronto 0
|2018-19||58||24||.707||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
|Toronto 4, Orlando 1|
Toronto 4, Philadelphia 3
Toronto 4, Milwaukee 2
Toronto 4, Golden State 2
|2019-20||50||19||.725||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Toronto 4, Brooklyn 0|
Boston 4, Toronto 3
- 3 - OG Anunoby
- 25 - Chris Boucher
- 12 - Oshae Brissett (TW)
- 0 - Terence Davis
- 33 - Marc Gasol
- 20 - Dewan Hernandez
- 4 - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- 9 - Serge Ibaka
- 5 - Stanley Johnson
- 7 - Kyle Lowry
- 22 - Patrick McCaw
- 13 - Malcolm Miller
- 24 - Norman Powell
- 43 - Pascal Siakam
- 21 - Matt Thomas
- 23 - Fred VanVleet
- 1 - Paul Watson (TW)
- Nick Nurse (head coach)
- Nate Bjorkgren
- Brittni Donaldson
- Jon Goodwillie
- Adrian Griffin
- Alex McKechnie
- Patrick Mutombo
- Jim Sann
- Sergio Scariolo
Individual awardsTemplate:Col-3NBA Finals MVP
- Kawhi Leonard – 2019
- Damon Stoudamire – 1996
- Vince Carter – 1999
- Lou Williams – 2015
- Pascal Siakam – 2019
- Sam Mitchell – 2007
- Bryan Colangelo – 2007
- Kawhi Leonard – 2019
- Damon Stoudamire – 1996
- Marcus Camby – 1997
- Vince Carter – 1999
- Morris Peterson – 2001
- Chris Bosh – 2004
- Charlie Villanueva – 2006
- Andrea Bargnani – 2007
- Jorge Garbajosa – 2007
| align="left" valign="top" | Television
- John Saunders (Play-by-play, 1995–2001)
- Dan Shulman (Occasional play-by-play, 1995–2001, TSN)
- Rod Black (Play-by-play, 1995–2005, CTV, and TSN)
- Chuck Swirsky (Play-by-play, 2001–2008)
- Jack Armstrong (Colour, 1998–present, NBA TV Canada, Rogers Sportsnet, and TSN)
- Leo Rautins (Colour, 1995–present, CTV, Rogers Sportsnet, The Score, and TSN)
- Matt Devlin (Play-by-play, 2008–present)
- Sherman Hamilton (Colour, 2008–present, NBA TV Canada)
| width="50%" align="left" valign="top" | Radio
- Mike Inglis (Play-by-play, 1995–1998, CFRB 1010)
- Chuck Swirsky (Play-by-play, 1998–2001, Fan 590; TV simulcast of play-by-play, 2001–2004)
- Jack Armstrong (Colour, 1998–2001, Fan 590)
- Leo Rautins (TV simulcast of colour, 2001–2004, Fan 590)
- Paul Romanuk (Play-by-play, 2004–2005, Fan 590)
- Paul Jones (Colour, 1995–1997, CFRB 1010; 2004–2005, Fan 590; Play-by-play, 2005–present, Fan 590)
- Eric Smith (Colour, 2005–present, Fan 590)
| align="left" valign="top" |
Fanbase and Marketing
The Raptors have enjoyed a consistent fanbase throughout their history. From 2000 to 2002, the Raptors led the league in sellouts, but attendances dipped slightly between 2003 and 2006. This improved during the 2006–07 regular season, an average of 18,258 fans attended each game (13th in the league), which translates to 92.2% of the Air Canada Centre's seating capacity. Following the success of the 2006–07 season, Toronto became one of the league leaders in season ticket sales for the 2007–08 season.
The value of the Raptors franchise has risen over the years. With the continued popularity of the Raptors, the value of the franchise rose from US$125 million in 1998 to $315 million in 2006, $373 million in 2007, and $400 million in 2008, before falling to $386 million in 2009, according to reports by Forbes. The Raptors previously were the only NBA team with their own television channel, Raptors NBA TV, which acted as a localized version of the league's U.S. channel NBA TV. However, on October 15, 2010, the channel was renamed NBA TV Canada with a greater emphasis on NBA teams other than the Raptors. Their television ratings, however, are considerably lower than other more established Toronto sports teams and most other sporting events shown on Canadian television.
On game day, the fans are usually entertained by the Raptor mascot, the Raptors Dance Pak, and the 4 Korners Raptors Soundcrew during pre-game, time-outs, and intervals. Giveaways are sometimes bundled with tickets to encourage attendance. Further, whenever Toronto scores more than 100 points in a home game, win or loss, fans can redeem their ticket for a pizza slice at standalone Pizza Pizza locations throughout Ontario for the business day after the game that was played. This is part of a promotion made by the Raptors' official pizza sponsor.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), owner of the Raptors, sponsors public outdoor viewings of significant games for both the Raptors and the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs (also owned by MLSE) at Maple Leaf Square, a public square immediately to the west of Scotiabank Arena. During the Raptors' 2014 playoff run, fans began calling the square "Jurassic Park" (a call-back to the film from which the team name originated), and it has locally been called by both the nickname and its actual name ever since.
Partnership with Drake
"We The North" re-branding
In the lead-up to the team's 20th anniversary season in 2015 and its hosting of the 2016 All-Star Game, the Raptors began the process of re-branding itself. On September 30, 2013, Toronto-based rapper Drake was announced as the new "global ambassador" for the Toronto Raptors, thereby joining the executive committee of his hometown's NBA team. In April 2014, the Raptors unveiled a new imaging campaign developed by the agency Sid Lee, "We The North", built around a manifesto that was meant to embrace the team's trait of being an "outsider" from the "north side", and the accompanying feelings of players and fans.
The "We The North" campaign was originally to be launched during the 2015–16 season; however, the launch was hastened so it would be ready in time for the 2014 playoffs, taking into account the poor performance of Canada's other pro sports teams at the time. An introductory commercial was quickly filmed, which featured the manifesto as narration, scenes of local basketball players in various outdoor locations around the city, and ended with a scene displaying a black, waving flag with the motto written on it. The campaign was immediately embraced by fans during the playoffs and following season; the launch commercial was viewed over 500,000 times in the two days following its release, "We The North"-branded shirts and flags became a common sight at games, while Ryerson University sports marketing professor Cheri Bradish compared the campaign to Molson's former "I Am Canadian" alcohol advertising campaign in how it resonated with the country.
On December 19, 2014, the Raptors soft-launched a new logo also designed by Sid Lee, which features a basketball with claw marks. The new logo was officially implemented during the 2015–2016 season. The logo's introduction was marred by a disorganized launch, which saw a black and white version initially shown before the eventual unveiling of coloured versions later in the day, mixed reviews for the design itself, with some (especially on the black and white version) comparing it to that of the Brooklyn Nets, and despite teasing merchandise with the new logo, not releasing any until at least mid-2015. There were also alleged tensions between MLSE staff and Drake surrounding the new design—in particular, the performer had pushed for the team to change its primary colour from red to gold (a colour seen in one of the official variants of the logo unveiled that day). In a response on Twitter, Drake distanced himself from the "execution" of the new logo.
In 2018, Drake unveiled the Welcome Toronto program with the Raptors. As a part of the program, the Raptors wore "city edition" uniforms for six home games throughout the 2017–18 season. As a salute to the earlier We the North campaign, the uniforms feature a gold chevron with "NORTH" written across it. The six Welcome Toronto home games also featured an OVO-themed black and gold home court, with chevrons pointing north. In addition to the Welcome Toronto home games, it was also announced that the Raptors and OVO would donate $1 million in order to refurbish local community basketball courts, as well as another $2 million to Canada Basketball.
The Raptors Foundation was the charitable arm of the Raptors, dedicated to assisting Ontario's registered charities that support programs and sports initiatives for at-risk children and youth. The Foundation strove to lift spirits and change lives for young people by supporting local and provincial organizations that provide recreational, educational and other youth-oriented activities. Through its community ties and with the help of its corporate partners, donors, Raptors players and volunteers, the Foundation has successfully raised more than $14 million between 1995 and 2007, and reached out to thousands of other charities. The Raptors Foundation is one of three parts of the Raptors' community service program. The other projects are Raptors Community Relations and Raptors Basketball Development, both of which focus on providing basketball development programs. The Toronto Raptors lead the NBA for amount of money donated to the community. In 2008, the Foundation merged with the other charitable arms of MLSE's other teams to form the Team Up Foundation. In 2009, the Raptors Foundation merged with the other charitable arms of MLSE's other sports franchises to form the Team Up Foundation.
In 2018, the Raptors, in partnership with Drake, announced the Welcome Toronto program. The program will see the Raptors and OVO contribute $2 million to Canada Basketball over the next four years. In addition, the Raptors and OVO also announced a donation of $1 million over the next three years in order to refurbish four community basketball courts within Toronto city limits. The four courts are located at Flemingdon Community Centre in the North York district in the north end of the city, Malvern Community Recreation Centre in the Scarborough district in the east end of the city, Matty Eckler Community Centre in the Riverdale neighbourhood of the Old Toronto district just to the east of downtown, and Thistletown Community Centre in the Etobicoke district in the west end of the city.
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Golden State Warriors
2017 & 2018
Los Angeles Lakers
|National Basketball Association|