Toronto Raptors

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 03:48

History of Toronto Raptors

Information about the NBA team Toronto Raptors.

The Toronto Raptors are a relatively young National Basketball Association team, which only started playing in the league in 1995. With the 1995 NBA expansion, the league accepted two Canadian teams: the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. In 2001, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee, making the Raptors the only Canadian team playing in the NBA. Although the Raptors have not garnered major success in the NBA, the team has continued to grow and mature throughout its history. As of the end of the 2007-08 season, the Raptors have had a total of five NBA Playoffs appearances and the team has won the Division Champion title once in 2007. The Raptors play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and their home games are played at the Air Canada Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The team's official colors are red, black, purple, and silver. Read on to learn more about the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto Raptors – the hatching of the Raptors

Although the Raptors only began playing in the NBA in 1995, the franchise was actually founded in 1993. The franchise was considering naming the team the Toronto Huskies, which was the name of the Toronto-based NBA team that played from 1946-47. Instead, the team decided to go with the “Raptors” to avoid confusion between the logos of the Huskies and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The name “Raptors” was chosen through a team-naming contest, which was held in 1994. An expansion draft was held in 1995, and the Raptors were able to fill their roster and start preparation for the 1995-96 season.

Toronto Raptors – rough beginnings

Much like many of the other NBA expansion teams, the Raptors had a rough time during their first few seasons. In the team's first season, they were able to win 21 games, but lost 61 to end the regular season with a winning percentage just over 25%. The Raptors' second season showed signs of improvement, with the team winning 30 games and losing 52, which was approximately an 11% improvement over their first season winning percentage. In the 1997-98 season, however, the team would end with their worst record yet. The team lost a total of 66 games and only won 16, resulting in a winning percentage below 20%. After an abysmal season, the Raptors management decided to make a few changes to their roster.

Toronto Raptors - “Air Canada”

In 1998, the Raptors would acquire one of the biggest NBA stars to ever play on their roster: Vince Carter. The Raptors actually selected Antawn Jamison as the fourth overall pick in the 1998 Draft, but the team successfully traded Jamison to the Golden State Warriors for Vince Carter. Although Carter's first season with the Raptors would be shortened due to the 1998-99 NBA Lockout, his impact on the team was immediately apparent. The Raptors went on to record 23 wins and 27 losses in the season, marking their first season with a winning percentage exceeding 40%. Still, it was not enough to get the team to the NBA Playoffs.

The 1999-2000 season would be the first full season that Carter would play with the Raptors. With his high-flying, fast-paced, and exciting style of play, Carter earned the nickname “Air Canada,” referring to his impressive leaping abilities. Vince Carter helped lead the Raptors to their first season with a winning percentage of over 50%, after winning 45 games and losing only 37. The record earned the team a spot in the Playoffs, where they were defeated 3-0 in the First Round by the New York Knicks. The blowout handed to them by the Knicks, revealed that the Raptors still lacked Playoff experience. The first round knock-out was a harsh lesson, but, in the next season, the Raptors proved that they had learned from the lesson.

In the 2000-01 season, the Toronto Raptors set a franchise record for the highest one-season winning percentage. While their 57% winning percentage did not shatter any league records, their 47-35 season record was respectable and, more importantly, it got the team to the Playoffs. In Raptors' second Playoff appearance, they were able to get revenge on the New York Knicks, the same team that knocked-out the Raptors in 2000 Playoffs. Toronto beat New York 3-2 and went on to the Conference Semifinals to face the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors stretched the series out to seven games, but were unable to beat Allen Iverson and the rest of the Sixers. The Conference Semifinals defeat would put a cap on the most successful season of the Raptors. After the 2001 Playoffs, the team would never make it past the Conference Semifinals again.

Toronto Raptors – the decline

When the 2001-02 season began, the Raptors seemed as if they were ready to make another good push into the Playoffs. Vince Carter re-signed with the team, Morris Peterson developed into a solid point guard for the team, and the Raptors were coming off of a solid performance in the 2000-01 season. The season was going well and, for the third season in-a-row, Vince Carter had the highest number of votes for the All-Star team. Before the All-Star break, the Raptors were thrashing through the season, with a great record of 29-21. Just as things were looking favorable for the Raptors, Carter suffered a tendinitis injury that would sit him out for the rest of the season. The team struggled without their star player, Carter, on the floor. Still, they were able to finish with a 42-40 record, which got them into the Playoffs. They were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in the First Round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs.

After the 2001-02 season, Vince Carter would return to play for the Raptors, but he would suffer from injuries throughout the rest of his stay with the team. The Raptors had a disappointing 2002-03 season record of 24-58, which was only a 29% winning percentage. A number of other Raptors players would also suffer from injuries throughout the season. At the end of the 2001-02 season, Raptors Head Coach Lenny Wilkens became the NBA coach with tho most losses. Wilkens was fired and the team had a new look in the next season. The team would not be able to make it to the Playoffs again until the 2006-07 season, but the team's acquisition of Chris Bosh would prove to be a great move as the player had become a premier NBA player.

Toronto Raptors – CB4 era

The Raptors acquired Chris Bosh as their fourth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and, since then, he has developed into a team leader and one of the league's best players. The team struggled during Bosh's first three seasons, and they even had a 27-55 record in the 2005-06 season. As Bosh matured, though, he quickly took the team upon his shoulders and has since led them to two Playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008. The team tied their franchise record for the best regular-season record, which they achieved in the 2006-07 season. Despite making the 2007 and 2008 NBA Playoffs, the team has been unable to make it past the First Round, losing to the New Jersey Nets and the Orlando Magic, respectively.

As of December 18, 2008, the Toronto Raptors have a 2008-09 season record of 10-15. Although they are off to a rough start in the season, they may just be able to pick-up their level of play and make it to the 2009 Playoffs.