Damon Stoudamire (left) and Marcus Camby (right) wore the Raptors
' purple "Dino" jerseys in the mid-1990s. (Mitchell Layton & Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
Although the Toronto Raptors have yet to release specifics regarding their re-branding efforts, the organization announced Thursday that they will be bringing back their original, purple "Dino" jerseys for select games during the 2014-15 season. The throwback uniforms will coincide with the organization's 20th season in the NBA.
“We are excited to bring back a piece of team history as part of our 20th Anniversary celebration,” Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “Our fans have shown affection for the original purple uniform and I think our players will enjoy the chance to wear them next season.”
Toronto entered the NBA as an expansion franchise for the 1995-96 season and wore their original "Dino" jerseys through the 1998-99 campaign. The purple "Dino" jerseys featured a large, red Raptor dribbling a basketball while wearing a white jersey and sneakers. The word "Raptors" appeared in big, stylized silver lettering with black trim and the player's jersey number was located over the heart. Two jagged lines completed the jersey top, and that pinstriped look extended to the shorts, which also featured the team's "claw" logo on the side.
Although the purple jerseys were originally Toronto's road uniform, the Raptors plan to don the uniforms during select home games next season. Specific dates will be announced later, but that didn't stop Raptors forward Amir Johnson from teasing the new (old) look on Instagram.
Here's a look at the jersey and shorts via SportsLogos.net.
The Raptors' original purple "Dino" jerseys. (SportsLogos.net)
The Raptors organization has gone through a series of logos and jersey designs over the years, with red and purple generally serving as the dominant colors. The team currently wears white jerseys with red trim at home, red jerseys with black trim on the road, and black jerseys with red trim when they need an alternate look. The organization's primary logo currently features a red dinosaur dribbling a basketball while wearing a white jersey; the alternate logo sports a white claw and basketball design inside a red circle. Both can be seen below via SportsLogos.net.
The Raptors' current primary logo (left) and alternate logo (right). (SportsLogos.net)
Shortly after Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) president Tim Leiweke was hired last year, the longtime sports executive made it clear that the Raptors' branding would be reevaluated. Back in June, Leiweke said the organization would consider the possibility of a nickname change, but he told reporters in September that the "Raptors" moniker would remain. Leiweke then introduced Drake as the Raptors' "global ambassador" last fall and promised a "new day" and a "new age" for the organization, which would be influenced by the Toronto-born rapper's vision and ideas.
"There's a reason why we are now going to submit to the league a new application for new branding and a new image and new colors," Leiweke said. "Drake will be an ambassador and help us forge this new vision, this new buzz, this new excitement for where we're taking this organization. ... Masai and I sat down and talked to [Drake] about what he views our image and our brand ought to be. I think he sees the world the same way we do, and I think we want to activate him in the thinking of what kind of buzz, what kind of brand, what kind of logo and what kind of future we create for this organization going forward."
Multiple reports in December indicated that the Raptors were weighing the possibility of a black-and-gold color scheme, which is utilized by Drake's OVO Sound record label. That look would reportedly go into effect for the 2015-16 season if it is selected.
You know how they are working on the “re-branding” of everything to do with the [Raptors], right? Maybe new colours, maybe a new logo, maybe all kinds of things different for the 2015-16 season. Well, how about this: Black and gold. Now, I’m not suggesting it’s a done deal and a lot of different people and companies are coming up with a lot of different looks and styles but I was told on the weekend that black and gold is definitely something being considered. ... This is by no means a done deal and there is still time for them to tinker and change and do whatever they have in this grandiose [plan] to re-invent the organization.
The Raptors then hosted a "Drake Night" for their Jan. 11 game against the Nets. The promotional artwork for the game includes the Raptors' logo and the OVO Sound logo in black and gold.
"I’m really out here with the people, I’m in touch with what they want to see," Drake said in September. "I really just want excitement for this team. I want us to be one of the biggest teams in the league.”
The Raptors hosted a "Drake Night" in January. (Raptors.com)
The New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats both recently underwent re-branding efforts. The Hornets became the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this year, adopting a blue/red/yellow color scheme, and the Bobcats are set to become the Charlotte Hornets, with a teal and purple look, at the conclusion of this season.
Toronto and the Air Canada Centre will host the 2016 All-Star Weekend. The Raptors currently sit atop the Atlantic Division with a 33-26 record and are on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.