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Toronto Raptors considering name change, Tim Leiweke says

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The Toronto Raptors are considering a name change and a uniform overhaul, which means one of the best mascots in the NBA is facing extinction. Again.

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The Toronto Raptors have made big changes to their front office this spring by moving Bryan Colangelo to an ancillary role and hiring Masai Ujiri as the new head of basketball operations, but their transformation may not be complete yet. The velociraptor's best days are in the past -- 70-plus million years in the past, in fact -- but things could still manage to get worse for the NBA's favorite dinosaur, as they may be facing extinction again. Team CEO Tim Leiweke recently revealed that the franchise is considering a name change and a uniform overhaul (via Eric Koreen of the National Post, by way of SI.com's The Point Forward):

On potentially changing the Raptors' name: "We're definitely going to take a look at it. It doesn't mean we're committed to it. It means it's a good conversation. I saw those generic uniforms today in the paper. ... That won't be the uniform, by the way. I can assure you of that. I think we need to have this conversation."

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The uniforms could certainly use a change, and the camouflage should be dropped all together, but a name change would rob NBA fans of one of the best mascots in the association. Could you really live with knowing that rollerblading Raptors mascot memories could never be duplicated?

If Toronto does decide to make a change, they will need to think up some better options than the ones that emerged as finalists from the original naming contest in the 1990s. Ben Golliver of The Point Forward noted in his piece that the team website includes some interesting information on the first search:

[The Raptors' ownership group] instituted a nationwide "Name Game" contest to name the team and develop team colors and a logo.

The Name Game became one of the most popular such enterprises in league history, generating more than 2,000 entries. The final top-10 list was dominated by animal names: Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs (Toronto's nickname is Hogtown), Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers.

No doubt fueled by the enormous success of the movie Jurassic Park and the popularity of dinosaurs with youngsters who would grow up to be fans in the target market, the team's new moniker, the Toronto Raptors, was unveiled on Canadian national television.

The Scorpions? The Beavers? No thanks. Tarantulas has too many syllables, Terriers does a disservice to the female cheerleaders and Hogs is just plain weird. Here's to hoping the Jurassic Park-inspired nickname sticks, but as Ray Arnold famously said in that blockbuster flick: "hold on to your butts." Things are clearly in flux for Toronto.

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