Toronto Raptors

How the Raptors almost became the Toronto ‘Tarantulas’

By now, everyone knows of the Toronto Raptors, but a superfan dug into the archives of the Toronto Star and explained how the “Raptors” got their name.

For the past 24 years, we’ve known Toronto’s NBA basketball team as the “Raptors.” Yes, it is a name that really doesn’t fit the area, but we’ve gotten used to it.

However, back in 1994, when the city was just awarded an NBA franchise, Toronto’s new NBA team could have been named something entirely different.

Central to this short story is Gil Meslin, an urban planner from Toronto who also happens to be a Raptors fan.

Now that the Raptors are in the NBA Finals for the first time in team history, Meslin decided to explore the team’s origins, and to do that, he turned to the Toronto Star, the city’s major daily paper.

He came across a “Name the Team” contest in the Star in April of that year, in which 10 lucky winners would receive a $500 in gift certificates to The Bay (now Hudson’s Bay), a Canadian department store chain.

Now, it isn’t unusual for new professional franchises to hold “Name that Team” contests, but this one seemed so legendary, that were openly wondering how this was kept out of the spotlight for so many years.

The name “Raptors” was among the scores of names that fans could pick from, and dino-themed names were popular that year.

Remember, Toronto got a franchise just one year after Jurassic Park dominated the big screen, so looking at it from that perspective, and you could see why “Raptors” was included.

So, after voting was concluded, the top ten names were released. The Names?

Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs (one of Toronto’s nicknames is “Hogtown”), Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers.

As the old saying goes, the rest is history, but it would have been cool to have an NBA team known as the “Tarantulas.”

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Just saying.

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