The Toronto Raptors are a notable representative of the NBA. The team is the only one that competes in the league outside of the United States. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
How did the Toronto Raptors get into the NBA? Toronto joined the NBA in 1995. The main reason is that it is one the most recognizable cities in Canada and at the same time the United States wanted to expand its reach outside its borders.
The Raptors were not the only team that joined the league in 1995. The Vancouver Grizzlies also became new members, however, they relocated to Memphis and are playing as the Memphis Grizzlies at present.
Canada and the US in the NBA
Before we move to the Toronto Raptors, we should delve a little deeper into the roots of the origins of basketball. James Naismith, who was an American sports coach and contributed to inventing basketball, was actually from Canada. When the league was in the development process in 1946, the first match between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Huskies was held, which the former won. Thus, it goes way back to the past when the Canadian team competed in the league.
A lot of people would be curious why Canada has a team in the United States. We have partially answered this question above, but to complement, the US wanted to expand its reach and Canada was the most suitable option, as it is located in the north of the country.
Marketing plays an important role
Toronto is one of the most developed cities not only in Canada but also in the rest of the world as well. A lot of people are watching basketball in Canada. They like the NBA and certain teams, thus when you have a native team competing in the world’s best league, it is spectacular. Having a Canadian team in the NBA increases viewership and hence revenue. This is another major reason why the United States allows the Raptors to compete in the league. For some Toronto has already become an inherent part of the US, when it comes to basketball.
Why are Toronto called the Raptors?
Toronto are called the Raptors and there is a reason behind this fact. When the team was first created the authorities allowed fans to choose the name for the club. Steven Spielberg’s famous Jurassic Park inspired fans, which back then was a box office success, hence the team were called the Raptors. During Toronto’s games, you will often see a mascot that is wearing a dinosaur’s mask on the face.
The case of the Vancouver Grizzlies
Alongside the Toronto Raptors, the Vancouver Grizzlies were the second team to join the former in the NBA. However their presence did not last long – in 2001, they relocated to Memphis and Toronto remained the only team that represented Canada. The Vancouver Grizzlies, unlike the Raptors, did not have enough popularity, attendance, which resulted in their decline. Partially, this helped Toronto a lot. With clever management, draft picks, money spending and acquiring good players, they improved step by step and won the first championship in the franchise’s history back in 2019. It was the first major tournament they have won since 1993.
Does Toronto have another team in the United States?
In addition to having a team in the NBA, Toronto also has a club in the NHL, which is called the Toronto Maple Leafs. The club is decent but not as strong as its NBA counterpart. The Toronto Raptors in the past few years have been a strong contender to win the NBA title, which is not always the case with the Maple Leafs.
Interestingly, they do not have a team in the NFL. Canada has a national football league on their own, named the CFL, thus entering the American market would be extremely difficult. Furthermore, fans from Toronto usually support the Buffalo Bills team.
How the Toronto Raptors won their First Championship?
The Raptors were forced to wait for a long time to claim their first championship in the NBA. Before 2019, they struggled to get past LeBron James, who shattered their chances of reaching the Finals. After signing Kawhi Leonard, trading Demar DeRozan and firing Dwane Casey, they managed to reach the NBA Finals, where they played against the Golden State Warriors. They won the series 4-2, but it should be noted that injuries took a major toll on the Warriors. The team lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. With Leonard leading the team efficiently, they clinched the title.
Drake – a symbol of the Raptors
As you will frequently see American director Spike Lee attending matches of the New York Knicks, another example is Canadian rapper Drake. In almost every match, you will see him in the front row, rooting for his favourite team. Drake is another reason why Toronto does well in terms of marketing and revenue. Having such a well-known face attending contributes positively to the team. He is always in the spotlight during matches.
Will other Canadian teams join in the future?
The expansion of the NBA is something that the authorities have been contemplating for a long time. Adding new teams not only from the United States but also from outside the country is a possibility. Right now, no official decisions have been made yet, but with mutual consent and agreement, in several years we will likely see fresh teams from Canada. Right now only the Raptors represent their home country.