The Toronto Raptors

The professional basketball team in Toronto has which dinosaur as its mascot?

And the answer: Raptor.    

The first logo of the Toronto Raptors featured an aggressive-looking Velociraptor, wearing white sneakers with exposed claws and dribbling a basketball. Today the mascot wears a jersey with the number 95 on it, honoring the year in the 1990s when the team entered the NBA.

Photo credit: Buhay Basket

While all 30 NBA teams have significant history behind their team mascots, some are more...well...unique than others. While some make reference to their cultural heritage, such as the Boston Celtics, others, such as the Brooklyn Nets, simply have a nice ring to it (not to mention a nice rhyme with the New York Jets and Mets). Test your knowledge of basketball teams with a (non-exhaustive) list of mascot naming history below.

  1. Charlotte Hornets: In 1987, George Shinn announced that the men's basketball team would be named Spirit, much to the displeasure of the fans. In response, Shinn decided to sponsor a name-the-team contest and had fans vote on six finalists. More than 9,000 ballots were cast and Hornets won by a landslide, beating out Knights, Cougars, Spirit, Crowns, and Stars. After the name won, it was noted that the name holds historical significance too, as a British commander reportedly referred to the area around Charlotte as a "hornet's nest of rebellion" during the Revolutionary War.
  2. Chicago Bulls: One theory states that as the meat capital of the world, team owner Richard Klein wanted to create a name that would reflect the city. Thus, the bulls. Another theory claims that Klein admired the durability and strength of bulls. A third theory claims that, while Klein was considering Matadors and Toreadors, his son exclaimed, "Dad, that's a bunch of bull!" And he was right.
  3. Houston Rockets: You may be able to guess the inspiration for this one. Even though the Houston Rockets used to call San Diego home, the team earned the name Rockets through a name-the-team contest for its reference to the city's theme, "A City in Motion." When the team relocated to Houston, home of NASA, it remained apt.

Learn more about basketball team name history here.


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