The NBA is loaded with iconic mascots.

We’ve got Bunny the Bull, Bango the Buck, Rocky the Mountain Lion, Hugo the Hornet, and right up there with these eye-catching, entertaining mascots is The Raptor.

Very much a product of the dinosaur-fascinated times of the 1990s, The Raptor remains one of the most creative character choices for an NBA mascot, but the performer themselves have greatly added to their profile. 

With hilarious stunts and just a fun-loving presence around the court, the Toronto Raptors mascot is well worth knowing as a basketball fan.

The Raptor: A Future Hall-of-Famer?

The Raptor emerged from its egg in 1995 as the new mascot of the newest NBA team. 

While velociraptors don’t really have any connection to Toronto or the province of Ontario – their fossils have been found in the Gobi Desert primarily – the wow factor of The Raptor’s design can’t be denied. 

It stands in white shorts, a white jersey, and with big basketball shoes on. The dark red dinosaur beneath the jersey comes with a sneaky look on its face, sharp white teeth, and a black pattern from head to tail. 

In 2021, Toronto’s mascot appeared on the Mascot Hall of Fame ballot but didn’t quite make the cut.

Still, if the Raptors’ rebuild goes well, another run in the playoffs could sell The Raptor on its HoF credentials.

This season, having won the NBA Championship in 2019, the Raptors have fully been rebuilding while Conference rivals like the Boston Celtics at +200 have become the favourites in the basketball odds.

Why Does Toronto Have a Raptor for its Mascot?

In the making of the new Toronto-based NBA franchise, the team offered around 125 of its media partners the chance to submit ten potential names for the team, which was then narrowed down to ten for a public vote.

This top ten of sorts featured Raptors, Dragons, T-Rex, Terriers, Beavers, Huskies, Bobcats, and Scorpions for the public to decide on in 1994 – not long after Jurassic Park took cinemas by storm. 

At the end of the public vote, the top three names were the Bobcats, Dragons, and Raptors, with the dinosaur being selected to champion Toronto and the purple “Barney” jersey cementing the clear pop culture ties to the naming and design process.

Since 1995, The Raptor has been teeing up the crowd through seasons of building, seven division titles, one conference-winning campaign, and the ensuing title triumph in 2019.

The Raptor Greatest Stunts

Easily, the most iconic of all of the stunts performed by the Toronto Raptors mascot is the devouring of the cheerleader. 

At halftime in a game against the New Jersey Nets, an inflatable Raptor mascot trundled its way onto centre court, where the cheerleaders were performing. 

Raptor jiggles, attracts the attention of one of the cheerleaders, and then proceeds to devour her.

Who is The Raptor - official mascot of Toronto Raptors NBA team

Once eaten, the mascot runs off. During another game, The Raptor also gobbled up a security guard for good measure. 

The Raptor also had quite the rivalry with Robin Lopez, who spent some of this season with live betting favourites Milwaukee Bucks, but that only amounted to 16 games before being traded and waived. 

Still, when he was a regular, The Raptor decided to wear a Lopez wig, which the player took exception to and shoved the mascot to the ground. 

When Lopez returned, The Raptor taunted him with a poster of “My Favourite Lopez,” which decidedly neglected the inclusion of the then-Knicks seven-footer. 

In 2013, actress and Ontario native Rachel McAdams was sitting courtside, so the mascot brought her roses, a stuffed Raptor toy, and a jersey. 

Of course, like many mascots, some stunts haven’t landed so well. The Raptor famously tried to enter the arena on rollerblades, but fell down the stairs. Once on the court, he slipped down once again. 

The inflatable face didn’t look amused, but at least The Raptor has cemented itself as one of the league’s best mascots in the years since.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to Alamy*

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.