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What's In a Name?
Toronto's basketball franchise is in need of a name change. But to what?

Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers;
these were the ten options voted for by Canadians to name the Toronto basketball franchise in 1994. If I remember correctly, I voted for the Bobcats (and look how that name worked out for Charlotte). The final outcome was, obviously, those small purple dinosaurs, the Raptors. Sure we all loved Spielberg’s 1993 film, Jurassic Park, (I went to see the movie like three times in the theatre) but it’s 2012 now and let’s face it: there hasn’t been another cool dinosaur movie since the turn of the century. (Jurassic Park 2, come on!)

So, what’s with that name anyway? The Raptors? I think it’s about time we consider some new options for our played-out mascot.

I asked around to get some ideas about new names. Here are a few of the suggestions:

Adam from Parkdale: How about the Toronto Sprites brought to you by Sprite?

Hey Adam. I love the idea of naming our team after a tasty beverage, especially one so refreshing. Their slogan“obey your thirst”would undoubtedly intimidate the hell out of opponents.

Matt from the Danforth: I like Drake a lot, and he likes basketball, so how about just naming the team after him?

That’s such an awesome and cool idea, Matt. Drake is way cooler than dinosaurs right now and he’s actually from Toronto; I mean, when was the last time you saw a real live raptor in this city? (Other than the lady with the weird claw hands outside the Eaton Centre.)

Mark from the Beaches: How about the Beiges? What’s more exciting than beige?

Not quite sure I feel you there Mark. Better luck next time.

But in all seriousness, I really don’t see how a re-branding of the team could hurt at all. There are much better names out there that would represent more than just an unfortunate moment in pop culture history. Here are my personal five favourite name replacements to our say goodbye to the dinosaur of yore:

5. Toronto Hunters

I’m not talking about human hunters here, but referring to hunter horses, those evolved from fox hunting that are now primarily show horses. These horses are trained to run for long periods of time so they can jump over obstacles. We are talking about basketball here and having a jumping horse does actually fit in with the dynamics of the sport.

4. Toronto Glide

OK, so no real Toronto significance other than the fact that it sounds good and it has more to do with basketball than a dinosaur. It’s also more inventive than calling them the Dunks or the Hoops or something generic. As a side note: I would love to see Clyde the Glide present for this renaming ceremony.

3. Toronto Hogs

The Hogs was one of the final ten team names included in the original 1994 voting, and a great option in my opinion. Toronto earned the nickname Hogtown back in the early 1900s thanks to William Davies‘ prolific meat packing plants, and having a name like The Hogs would have historical significance and give us a cool mascot. I know Raptors are mean, but I wouldn’t want to mess with a tough, angry pig either.

2. Toronto Towers

This is almost a no-brianer: we should just accept the inevitable and make the CN Tower our mascot. After all, it’s a symbol of Toronto and the name has a multiple levels of meaning in the context of basketball, suggesting height and, in a punny way, “tower”-ing over one’s opponents. (Just don’t tell Calderon.)

1. Toronto Huskies

The Huskies lasted for just one season in the BAA back in 1946-47 before folding two years prior to the league’s merger with the NBL to form the NBA in 1949. Technically this was Toronto’s first NBA team, so why not just take their name? Back in 1994 the name was scrapped because management thought it would be too hard to differentiate their logo from the Timberwolves. When Minnesota had their original logo, which featured a husky-looking figure, I understand the argument, but when they switched their current logo in 1996, the wolf became quite distinctly wolf-like rather than the generic dog used previously. The Raptors have since made the move to wear throwback Huskies jerseys at certain games and the fans, myself included, seem to love them. In a league where  the Suns and the Heat are able to make their logos look different, I’m pretty sure we could adopt a husky that we could differentiate from Minnesota’s pet wolfwhile celebrating a piece of basketball history in the process.

Nick McIsaac is Toronto Standard’s sports writer. Follow him on Twitter (for everything sports related) at @nickclass.

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