The Toronto Raptors, at 22 years old, are one of the NBA's younger franchises. Unlike teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, the Raptors don't have a long list of legendary names to celebrate, or glory days to reminisce about. Their uniforms have never been classic or timeless, always very much of the moment. The Raptors are possibly the league's best example of a Millennial franchise, the child of a Hollywood blockbuster -- Jurassic Park -- born right in the middle of the 1990s.
There is more to Toronto basketball than meets the eye, however -- the city was home to another franchise, the Huskies, who hosted and played in the first-ever game of what would become the NBA, in 1946. The Huskies didn't last long -- only one season, in fact -- but they are still an important part of basketball history, not only in Canada but globally.
The Raptors are celebrating that legacy again this season as they will don vintage-inspired Huskies jerseys six times and also give their court the full treatment -- instead of the ball-and-claw logo and red paint, it will be the panting husky and blue. It's a good call considering the greater throwback movement happening in the NBA right now; the Bucks, Lakers, Heat, Hornets, Suns, and Pacers have all announced throwbacks to be worn on a regular basis, while others will follow with single-game special event designs.
It makes sense that everyone is hopping in the time machine. Throwback uniforms salute the past, establish a sense of longevity and team culture. A team's brand is most successful when it unites then and now, past and present. Look at the Yankees, who this past season captured the sporting world's attention through a record-breaking rookie year by Aaron Judge. No one in North America relies on history and a heritage identity as much as the Yankees, yet they have become a trending topic thanks to a glut of young stars.
The Lakers hope to be that story in the NBA this year. With 16 titles and Hall of Fame names up in the rafters, they certainly have a storied past. They also have new talent, most notably Lonzo Ball, who, thanks to his father's braggadocios support, became a household name before playing a minute of professional ball. The Lakers will hope their young player can live up to the hype and put up gaudy numbers like Judge this season.
The current Raptors squad may be the best in franchise history. They've captured the nation's attention. In Drake the Raptors have a big-name ambassador and fan, as well, and are that much more relevant as a result. The only thing missing is a sense of team history, that storied past. There's not much to look back on, aside from the dunking exploits of Vince Carter, so the Huskies have become that valuable bit of nostalgia.
When the Huskies take the court this season, let your mind drift back to the 1940s. Imagine you're in Maple Leaf Gardens, smoky and dimly lit, amongst fans in formal wear. The television cameras aren't capturing an HD feed, but grainy black-and-white. The shorts are short and dunking does not yet exist. Toronto has this charming history, now's the time to embrace it.
Want more Raptors content? Give our TSN Radio segment, The Art of Sport, a listen below!