Jurassic Park: The Toronto Raptors and Their Dinosaur Doppelgangers
Jurassic Park: The Toronto Raptors and their Dinosaur doppelgangers
When the NBA expanded to Toronto in 1993, one of the first orders of business, of course, was to select a mascot. Initially the franchise wanted to revive the Toronto Huskies, a BAA club from the 1940s. Fearing that the logo would encroach on that of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the club decided to go in a different direction.
Ordinary Canadians were asked to submit suggestions. Names like the Beavers, the Hogs, the T-Rexes, and the eventual runner-up the Towers poured in. Ultimately the Raptors - made popular in part by the 1993 release of the Jurassic Park film - became the team’s new mascot.
Therein lies the problem. Even by 1993 standards, the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were far from scientifically accurate. Raptor dinosaurs were much, much more akin to today’s birds than the film ever lets on, and today the Toronto Raptors’ logo and mascot continue that same bastardization.
(What a velociraptor actually looked like.)
It’s not that the NBA should feel compelled to have more accurate logos. Surely we all know that Irish people don’t look like Lucky the Leprechaun. It is, however, worth noting how undeniably epic dinosaurs really were. And that some of them bear an odd resemblance to this current crop of Toronto Raptors players...
Kawhi Leonard - Ankylosaurus
Ankylosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur covered in scaly armor, wiedling a hefty, bone club of a tail. In this way, ankylos were relatively unbothered by just about any predator. It was a defensive juggernaut, certainly moved at its own speed and leisure.
Kawhi Leonard has proven wholey unbothered by opposing defenses during these playoffs. Save a nagging leg injury, he has appeared immune to outside forces, and like an ankylosaurus, operates at his own clip. His knack for playing at his speed, on his terms, is what makes Kawhi so effective.
Ankylosaurus used its hefty tail as a dangerous weapon. If a predator came too close, an ankylo would use its tail to deliver a deadly knockout blow to an unlucky T-Rex. Go ahead and ask Joel Embiid if this sounds familiar in any way.
Kyle Lowry - Pachycephalosaurus
It’s fair to say that Kyle Lowry doesn’t look like the most imposing athletic force. He’s neither the fastest, nor the biggest, nor the most athletic point guard around.
Lowry instead has a feisty disposition and a wayward attitude. Throughout the 2019 postseason, we’ve seen Lowry fight tooth and nail to impact the game, even when his shots aren’t falling. At times, he can be too feisty in fact; he’s averaging almost four personal fouls per contest.
Pachycephalosaurus is a medium-sized dinosaur, about the size of a cow. It certainly didn’t inspire fear with its physicality.
Instead, scientists believe it used its dome-shaped head to fight off attackers. Up to ten inches of pure bone allowed pachys to put rivals and predators in their place. Headstrong doesn’t even scratch the surface with these guys.
Serge Ibaka - Therizinosaurus
Serge Ibaka is 6’10” with a spectacular 7’3” wingspan. His length and propensity for devastating blocks are key pillars of his basketball identity. Ibaka is long, lean, and unforgiving. He’s also one of the most gregarious people in the NBA.
Despite everything, therizinosaurus was an herbivore, a plant-eater. Still it had some of the most impressive and other-wordly arms around. Imagine getting a shot off with that closing out.
Marc Gasol - Camarasaurus
Camarasaurus was a tall, thick dinosaur. It wasn’t the tallest long-necked dinosaur - called sauropods - but Camarasaurus had the muscle to ward off attacks from its predatory contemporaries. Despite its size, it was probably decently light-footed.
Marc Gasol fits the above rather well. He’s got a bit of extra weight behind him for sure, but is far from immobile. He can use this balance of size and grace on either ends of the floor.
Though it was a bit of a lumbering giant, Camarasaurus did have a single claw on each front foot. This, presumably, could be used to slash at predators. And with a whip-like tail, Camarasaurus was much more deadly than one might expect at first-glance. Surely this can be said of Marc Gasol.
Pascal Siakam - Carcharodontosaurus
Pascal Siakam played the Game 1 of his life during the 2019 NBA Finals. He poured in a hyper-efficient 32 points, a relatively unknown player shining on the biggest stage, upstaging some of the NBA’s biggest stars in the process.
Carcharodontosaurus is much the same way. At nearly 45 feet long, carcharodontosaurus was actually a little bit bigger than the more-famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s one of the unsung behemoths of the Mesozoic era.
Meaning shark-toothed lizard, carcharodontosaurus was an absolute beast, an apex predator of the highest order. As basketball fans and opposing players alike have quickly learned this season, Pascal Siakam may too be among the most ferocious and fearsome in the entire Association.
Danny Green - Deinonychus
Danny Green actually gets the nod and earns the raptor distinction here. Velociraptor was actually about the size of a large dog. It’s close relative, Deinonychus, was about the size of a full-grown human, and a good stand in for Green.
Raptor dinosaurs were highly intelligent killers. They worked together to over-power much larger prey, and by all accounts were among the smartest dinosaurs to have ever lived. Sounds like the perfect analogy for a player who made his bones playing for the San Antonio Spurs.
Raptors also had a trademark toe claw. Shaped like a sickle and ultra-flexible, it’s believed these could fully disembowel prey in a single swipe. Though Deinonychus isn’t the largest raptor dinosaur, it still sported five inch toe claws. Even a Danny Green dagger three-pointed doesn’t inspire as much fear.
Fred VanVleet - Ceratosaurus
There are hundreds of dinosaur species. After all, dinos were on earth for more than 180 million years. We could go through the entire Raptors roster, coaching staff, and G-League squad if we wanted to. Mercifully, I won’t.
Surely, however, Fred VanVleet has earned himself a dinosaur. He’s come up huge for the Raptors, providing a much needed boost of the bench for Toronto.
Ceratosaurus is a relatively small meat-eating dinosaur, at least compared to some of its closest cousins. Still, with a fantastic set of steak-knife shaped teeth, Ceratosaurus would be a formidable foe.
With the Toronto Raptors performing well thus far in the NBA Finals, dinosaurs have never been more visible. Feel free to reach out with any questions.