Being the reigning NBA Champions, there is a lot of interest in the Toronto Raptors Jersey this season. With the Raptors looking like they will make the play-offs again, even without superstar Kawhi Leonard, it makes sense for us to put together a jersey guide for Toronto Raptors.
How many Jerseys will the Toronto Raptors play in during the 2019/20 NBA season?
The Raptors have 5 different official Nike jerseys this season. They include the Association jersey in White, the Icon Jersey in Red, the Statement jersey in Black with red trim, the Drake inspired City Jersey in Black and gold and back due to popular demand and to celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary is the Hardwood Classic nights jersey, the infamous Dinosaur jersey in White!
Does Drake own the Raptors? How come he gets his own jersey?
Rapper Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham is perhaps the most famous Raptors fan in the world; however he doesn’t currently own any stake in the team. The team is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and entertainment, the group that also owns the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team.
Drake is however the team’s official “global ambassador” he started in this role in 2013 and since then much to the annoyance of rival teams has been a visible presence on the Raptors side-lines. Due to this partnership this year’s city jerseys have been given a Black and Gold theme that ties in with the rappers OVO (Octobers Very Own) label. Such are the ties between Drake and the Raptors that they have even renamed their practice facility the OVO Athletic Centre and the OVO Owl logo proudly adorns the outside of the building next to the Raptors logo.
Why have the Raptors bought back the Dinosaur?
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the team the Raptors have bought back one of the most iconic jerseys in NBA history. The Dinosaur jersey was a 90’s favourite and worn by the team from their inception in 1995 until 1998. It was made famous first by the team’s original superstar ‘mighty mouse’ Damon Stoudamire and then by highflyers Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. With so much nostalgia and fans clamouring for its return, the Raptors acted on the opportunity to bring back the Dino for this special anniversary year.
When did the Raptors stop wearing Purple?
The big red raptor left the jersey in 1998, with the Raptors switching to the Purple fronted, Black backed jersey with red detailing that was made famous by Vince Carter in the 2000 Dunk contest.
The Raptors wore this jersey until 2008. At this point the team were purchased by Maple Leaf Sports and entertainment. The new ownership group wanted to mark their new purchase and now that the team were a staple of the NBA, they wanted to showcase the only Canadian team left in the league as a team for the entire country. And so, Raptors moved to a Red, White, Silver and Black colour schemes.
Which Player should I get on a Raptors jersey this year?
After the departure of NBA Finals MVP Kwahi Leonard, many questioned what sort of title defence the Raptors would be able to mount with a collection of role players and aging veterans. There were plenty of rumours that GM Masai Ujiri would look to rebuild and cash in his veterans for draft assets. However the emergence of Power forward Pascal Siakam has allowed the Raptors to stay at the upper echelons of the Eastern conference and together with his blossoming game and savvy gamesmanship of proven contributors such as Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol the Raptors still look like the most likely team to cause an upset against the East leading Milwaukee Bucks.
Siakam wears number 43 and the Hardwood classic jersey is a winner on and off the court.
If you’re looking for a more flashy pick, you could look at Fred VanVleet, a product of Wichita State University, VanVleet went undrafted but bet on himself to earn a spot in the league after accepting turning down opportunities to play in the G league and instead electing to go to the Raptors summer league squad with no guarantee’s off making the final roster and a battle against 5 other prospects to take the final slot. VanVleets gamble paid off and now he’s enjoying a breakout season as he averages over 17ppg with 6+ assists. The only issue is that his strong play is gaining the interest of other teams in the league and it looks at if VanVleet could be the headliner free agent in a weak summer class, leading to the possibility that another team could overpay him to leave the Raptors this summer.
If you were looking for more international flair, Spanish legend Marc Gasol would of course also be a solid choice.
Who is the best player to ever wear the Raptors jersey?
For a team with only 25 years in the league the Raptors have been blessed with a plethora of stars. The first franchise superstar was Damon Stoudamire, mighty mouse rocked the number 20 jersey and was the Raptors first ever draft pick, he replied the Raptors faith by winning the Rookie of the year award (Still the shortest ever winner at 5ft 10). After 2 and half years Stoudamire was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.
After Stoudamire came the Vince Carter era. Carter was drafted 5th by the Golden State Warriors in the 1998 draft but was traded to the Raptors for his good friend and North Carolina Teammate Antwan Jamison. Carter followed in Stoudmires footsteps and won the Rookie of the year award while playing for the Raptors. After only two seasons in the league Carter led the Raptors to their first ever playoff appearance. He took them a step further in 2001 leading the team to 47 wins and their first ever playoff series win. During 7 seasons with the Raptors, Carter average over 23 points, and 5 rebounds per game. He led the team to the playoffs for their first ever appearance and the year after led the team to their first ever playoff series win. Unforgettably be also won the 2000 dunk contest with an array of dunking that had never been seen before. However, despite all the accolades Carter left the Raptors under a cloud in 2004 when he was traded to the Nets. The majority of Raptors fans appeared to hold a grudge against Carter after his departure and it wasn’t until 2014 when this cold relationship began to thaw. The 2014 season was the Raptors 20th Anniversary season to mark the occasion of Carters return with the Memphis Grizzlies the Raptors played a video montage of his Raptors highlights during the first quarter.
Pre-game it was heavily speculated that the Raptors fans would boo during this tribute. As the video started some fans did indeed boo Carter, however as the highlights continued the boos turned to cheers and the montage ended with the sell out crowd raising to their feet in a standing ovation. With old wounds healed Raptors fans could once again embrace Carter as probably their greatest player ever.
One potential spanner in the works to Carters claim as the greatest ever Raptor would be Kwahi Leonards one season masterpiece in Toronto. Leonard arrived in Toronto from the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2018. He was traded for fan favourite and beloved teammate DeMar DeRozen. A new player arriving at the expense of such a local hero would usually mean a rocky introduction for the incoming player, especially one that had spent the previous year refusing to suit up and left team mates puzzled why he would not go to battle with them in the Playoffs. However, Kwahi was a former finals MVP and had the distinction of beating long time Toronto nemesis Lebron James in a playoff finals. Leonards lone season in Toronto ultimately finished with the NBA Championship being bought home to Toronto, the first time the trophy had been won by a team outside of the USA. Kawhi also claimed the finals MVP. However, his decision to leave the Raptors after the finals has made his time in Toronto feel rather transactional. The Raptors fans still appreciate Kwahi but have once again been left heartbroken and so it’s probably a little too early for them to elevate Kwahi to the position of their best ever player.