In Toronto, court is about to be in session, but the jury is still out.
No, Gals, we're not talking about the court of law, but the gleaming, wood-surfaced, painted battleground where the likes of NBA stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant reign.
For the Toronto Raptors, the start of the 2013-14 Season means a lot of continued rebuilding and a lot of further discussion on redefining the Raptors. Since Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment brought in new president and CEO Tim Leiweke in April, it's all anyone in the city's been talking about.
Or is it?
It's hard to put our finger on just how much fans care about the proverbial losing team. They managed a good amount of success in the Vince Carter days of the late '90s and early 2000s, and even started to look towards the championship with a couple of runs at the playoffs under Chris Bosh in the 2007 season... but since then, the Raps have found themselves in a downward spiral and constant team-building situation, disappointing fans in Toronto and around the country alike.
Everything from a new practice facility, to new uniforms, to a whole new name has been suggested to excavate these fossils from the depths of bottom-league standings. Should the Raptors consider a rebrand, now or ever?
Let's take a look at Toronto's other teams. We've got the Argonauts of the CFL, the Blue Jays of the MLB, and the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL as our top comparisons.
What's in a name?
The Argonauts and Blue Jays have always been the Argonauts and the Blue Jays, so there's a lot of history there. But the Maple Leafs only became the Leafs in 1927, 10 years after their inception as the Toronto Blueshirts and after a stint as the Toronto St. Patricks. If the Raptors were considering a name change, they should do it quickly, before they build up too much history and goodwill.
What to change to? Suggestions like the "Hogs," after Toronto's nickname of Hogtown, the Royals, after the British monarchy or the Mounties or Lumberjacks have been floated around. We might as well just call them the Toronto Ehs if we're going to go the latter route.
None of these names have garnered as much attention as the Huskies however, after Toronto's one-season failure from the Basketball Association of America (a predecessor to the NBA). Back in December of 2009, the team unveiled sweet Huskies "throwback" jerseys which got a lot of positive buzz from fans. Why? Probably not the name, as the Huskies really didn't offer Toronto anything positive back in '47, but more likely the team colours -- blue and white.
I'm blue ah ba dee ah ba da...
Ah, blue and white, the essence of Toronto sports teams. Maybe it's as simple as that; put the boys in blue and the whole town is happy! Not so fast -- many people loved the original purple and red of the 1995 Raptors and were sad to see it go as the team shifted to red and black in recent years. Still, many legitimate claims have been made that unifying the Raptors with the blue and white of the Leafs, Argos (well, double blue for them) and Blue Jays will better align them with the city's identity. If that happens, guess you're on your own Toronto FC! We bet the Raps are just looking out for their soccer playing brothers and don't want them to be lonely.
Lonely trophy shelves
"Why bother rebranding a team that hasn't won anything yet, changing a team won't make them successful?" Yes and no, if history dictates anything. In the yes corner, The Argos have had about as many logos as their 16 Grey Cup Championships, which supports the idea that reinventing your image equates reinventing your team's winning attitude. In the no corner, there's the cosmetically ever-changing Leafs who haven't won since 1967. No further explanation needed.
Do you start rebranding after you start winning? Or do you jumpstart your fans' and franchises' attitudes by giving them a makeover? Maybe it's a jump Leiweke should take.
Back to Jurassic
The NBA announced that Toronto will be hosting the 2016 All-Star Game. This is awesome news for Canadian basketball fans. Coincidentally or not, it's also the same year as the Raptor's 20th anniversary. A perfect opportunity to launch a rebrand, but maybe not one of such epic proportions.
Even Toronto-born rapper Drake doesn't think the dinos should 'start from the bottom.' In what looks kind of like a Jay-Z/Brooklyn Nets-style move, Drake has just signed on with the Raptors to help with the rebrand, including a clothing line, the team image, and plans for the All-Star Game. Who knows, maybe Drizzy as a partner will be the 'best they've ever had.'
This Gal has been watching the Raptors since the beginning. Mourning their agonizing losses and celebrating their pizza-winning 100+ point games . We have a special place in our hearts saved for the Raptor because, let's face it, he's the best mascot in the league. Do we want our team to be successful? Of course. Change the colours, change the design but don't change the dino. The Raptors are Toronto basketball's archaeological treasure, and we like it that way.
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