The Raptor is the official mascot of the Toronto Raptors. He is a red velociraptor donning basketball shoes and a jersey numbered 95, after the last two digits of the year of the Raptors' establishment. Known for several widely seen antics, The Raptor has attracted publicity on multiple occasions, for instance, both good and bad. He is widely regarded as one of the best and most diligent in the National Basketball Association.
The Raptors first ever game was played on November 3, 1995, against the New Jersey Nets at the SkyDome (now called Rogers Centre) in front of 33,306 fans. Prior to the introduction of the starting lineups, a giant spotted egg was wheeled out to the center court. Moments later, a red velociraptor hatched from the egg in grand 'Gobbledy Gooker' fashion, wearing basketball shoes and a Raptors team jersey with the number "95" on it.
Since that time, The Raptor has served as the official mascot of the team for over 20 years, replaced only briefly in 2013-14 when the portrayer tore his Achilles tendon.
On October 4, 2013, The Raptor was performing at a pre-season event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, entertaining children at a local school visit when he tore his Achilles tendon while performing a backflip. The injury would put the performer on the shelf for much of the 2013-14 season, forcing the team to bring in an alternate mascot. Fortunately, The Raptor knew the right dino for the job, his cousin, Stripes.
Stripes would step into The Raptor's role as the official mascot of the team while The Raptor recovered, and nearly six months later, The Raptor would make a triumphant return to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on March 23, 2014.
The Raptor has been the subject of a number of 'viral videos' throughout the years, for reasons both good and bad.
- In March 2011, during a game played in London, England, a video was recorded of The Raptor 'eating' a cheerleader. The skit involved a new costume for The Raptor, this one being an inflatable one. Since that time, the 'eating' skit has been done a number of times, usually including a cheerleader or security guard.
- On October 10, 2013, video surfaced showing the Raptor injuring his Achilles tendon while performing at a school in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- In January 2014, Robin Lopez, then of the Portland Trail Blazers, commented in an interview that The Raptor was the league's most annoying mascot. Said Lopez, "I wish we could go back to Toronto because he gets my goat. I have a few choice words for that guy." When asked to elaborate, Lopez said, "No. He knows."
- On March 15, 2015, The Raptor would antagonize Lopez by wearing a wig mocking the center's hair. Lopez would respond by charging from the sidelines to push the mascot to the ground.
- On November 10, 2015, dubbed Raptor/Lopez II, the center was back in Toronto, this time playing for his new club, the New York Knicks. The Raptor compiled a poster called "My Favourite Lopez List". Jennifer, Mario, George, and even Nancy made the list, but Robin was notably absent from the list. Lopez would proceed to take the poster off of the easel it was being displayed on and crack it over the head of the Raptor.
- On January 22, 2016, Canadian actress Rachel McAdams was sitting court-side for a game between the Raptors and Miami Heat when spotted by The Raptor. Wearing a fitted tuxedo, The Raptor would begin to shower the celebrity with gifts. First, he gave her a Raptors jersey with her name and the number '1' on it, followed by a bouquet of flowers, and finally a stuffed Raptors toy.