Since the heyday of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s, when we as sports fans were lucky enough to watch the growing and incredible legend of Michael Jordan dominate the sports scene, I have never had a basketball team that I have cheered for. My allegiances typically rested with whoever was playing against a team that I didn’t like. Who are the Lakers playing in the Finals? The Pacers? Sure, I’ll cheer for them. Or whoever was playing against the Miami Heat during the days of the Big Three. Like most people on Earth, I cheered for the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonia Spurs to beat them in the Finals.
Being Canadian, it was always difficult to buy into the notion of the Toronto Raptors.
They came in as a terrible expansion team, along with the ill-fated Vancouver Grizzlies, but even after the Griz left town, the Raptors were never truly marketed as being Canada’s team, even though, by definition, they are. They were a team in Toronto, and if there is anything that Canadians like doing, it’s cheering against anything that comes from Toronto, our most pretentious city. So the Raptors were dead to us.
They had a stupid, gimmicky name, they had terrible jerseys with poor colour choices, and they were bad. Like, really bad. For a long time. With only a couple of glimpses into the playoffs, and no superstars since the day Vince Carter walked out of town, they were a tough team to cheer for.
But things are slowly changing.
Rapper Drake has taken on a role with the team, and they are going through a slow rebranding of the team. Sure, they are apparently sticking with the Raptors moniker, but they are going to go through an image readjustment in hopes of making them the team for Canada to cheer for.
And it is working.
With a fun team last year that made a strong run into the playoffs, basketball fans in the north were able to finally cheer for the Raptors. The team on the court has turned itself around, and the fans were backing them, in part due to the very cool, Game of Thrones-esque slogan, “We the North.”
Despite the grammatical inadequacies of the statement, “We the North” has been something that has brought fans of the sport together behind our one and only team. It has managed to move the Raptors from being a silly Toronto team, to one for all Canadians.
Well played, Raptors PR department.
Yesterday, the new logo for the team was unveiled, along with some colour changes. While the logo is very simple, and far too reminiscent of the Brooklyn Nets for most people’s liking, there is some potential there. And that potential is the gold. With a new colour scheme that will be black, silver, white, and red, there is already a rumoured alternate that will be black and gold.
I say forget about the alternate aspect of it. Be black and gold. Nobody else has it. It would look cool; it would look new. The black and white is done, and basically owned by the Nets and Spurs. Toronto is not Brooklyn. It needs to continue forging its own identity, instead of trying to be too much like somebody else. The days of the purple are behind us (even though now that they have made a reappearance as retro jerseys, those old monstrosities from the early days have somehow become kitschy and cool), and it is time for the Raptors need to stake their claim on something original.
Black and gold.