Today is Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards. This is the beginning of our journey with one thing on our mind. To Win It All!
It feels different this year. The city is buzzing. We’re getting national recognition and airplay. We’re on top and teams are gunning for us. We have a lot to prove and we have done our part this season by beating teams like the Cavs, the Celtics, and NBA’s top team, the Houston Rockets…twice!
The Raptors clinched 1st place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history... but only one thing matters at the end of the day...to take it all the way and become NBA Champs!
“Championship. Getting to the Finals.” - Lowry’s words when asked what’s next for the Raps
But this journey hasn’t been easy. The Raptors have never made it past the Eastern Conference finals in their 23 years of existence….yet.
It wasn’t an easy come up through the years but it’s satisfying to see how far we’ve come.
The Skydome Dayz
This is where it all began. The NBA gods finally blessed our H6ME with a ball team in 1995. Back then there wasn’t much hype or expectations. The first few years were a learning experience with a little excitement from our first round pick in the ‘95 draft. You can call him our very first franchise player, Rookie of the Year, Damon Stoudamire aka Mighty Mouse.
He started the hype, got the crowd going and opened up the idea that Toronto may very well be an NBA city that can rival New York, Chicago, or LA (back when both those teams didn’t suck).
Mr. Air Canada
Fast forward 3 years later to the ultimate poster boy era of the Raptors, Mr Air Canada!
The Raps acquired Vince Carter through a draft trade from the Warriors. This move paved the way for our entire organization and our country.
Anyone ever remember this dunk off? I mean this guy was Half man, Half amazing! This dunk off single handedly changed our city forever. The hype was real, our city was buzzing. We had national recognition. Kids were playing ball on the streets wearing VC’s Nike Air Shocks. Who else thought they could jump higher rocking those kicks?
The next four years became a series of highlight reels and playoff appearances. Everyone wanted to see the Raptors play. But then things turned for the worst. Vince got injured, we started to struggle and missed the playoffs two years in a row. With the emergence of a young star in Chris Bosh, management decided to get rid of our poster boy for a bunch of scrubs and a guy who refused to play for us. Worst trade of all time?
Finding Our Way
The next nine years consisted of two playoff first round exits. We thought we could build a team a team around Chris Bosh but even he left us for Miami. We were stuck trying to find our way, and we found it with a rookie named Demar, a star named Kyle, and two guys named Tim Leweke and Masai Ujuri.
We The North
2013-2014 is the year that shaped who we are today.
Tim realizing the culture change in the city named the 6 God, Drizzy Drake as the Raptors Global Ambassador and started the rebrand era.
Masai saw some room for improvement and one of his first moves was to trade Rudy Gay for a package deal that created immediate chemistry and took us to our first playoff appearance in five years!
This was a special time in our city. Drake was blowing up and reppin’ the 6 across the world and The Original 6 was born from that same passion. We were proud to call Toronto our H6ME.
The Raptors were playing with a chip on their shoulders. You didn’t need to be a hardcore fan to feel the energy the team was bringing to the city. Inside the arena, at Jurassic Park or pretty much anywhere else if a Raps game was playing, people were tuned in.
The city came together. The country came together. The NORTH was rising.
Four playoff appearances, setting franchise records and 1 conference finals appearance. We were checking every box. Just one thing we could never manage, LeBron.
Still got respect from the King though.
23 years later and here we are. 1st in the east, 2 All Star players, 1 All Star coach, deepest bench in the league, crushing the best, and setting records.