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The best Toronto Raptors jersey isn’t even a Raptors jersey

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The Raptors have gone from a joke of a jersey to making that same jersey retro cool. But their best fit was used in just one game, in 2016.

Sports Jersey Week: The best Toronto Raptors jersey isn’t even a Raptors jersey, Kyle Lowry, Stephen Curry Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Like most teams, the Toronto Raptors have had some serious ups and downs in the jersey department. We ranked them all here! It’s still hilarious to me that the purple dino jerseys went from being laughed at 20 years ago to being considered classics that fly off the shelves today, but I guess that’s fashion for you.

I do genuinely like many of Raptors jerseys. The current red and white are just about perfect, and although it’s not really Raptors colors in my mind, I do like the original black-and-gold Welcome Toronto jerseys, the one with the “North” chevron. (The same jersey in Raptors colors doesn’t work quite as well to me, but, they won the title in that thing, so that’s forever.)

Thing is, even with all those jerseys, my favourite Raptors jersey isn’t actually a Raptors jersey at all... it’s only Raptors-adjacent.

It’s the 2016 NBA All-Star jersey.

Sports Jersey Week: Toronto Raptors 2016 NBA All-Star Game jersey, front sportslogos.net

(Shout-out to Sportslogos.net for the photos.)

The All-Star game was held right here in Toronto that year, the first time the event had ever been held outside of the U.S. It was the first time best buds DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry played in the game together, and was only the second time in franchise history that the Raptors had two All-Stars.

And the jerseys were absolutely perfect.

As is typical of All-Star Jerseys, these followed a red-white-and-blue color scheme, following the NBA logo. The jersey fronts were understated, with a simple block font for the lettering. As Addidas said at the time:

Clean, single-layered fonts are a nod to the NBA’s early days in Toronto, where the first NBA game was played on Nov. 1, 1946, between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers.

If you look closely, though, you’ll see the front is more than meets the eye. There’s a subtle dot-pattern on the top half of the jersey, that’s absent on the bottom half; the dividing line is actually in the shape of a maple leaf. I love that subtle nod to Canada!

Sports Jersey Week: Toronto Raptors 2016 NBA All-Star Game jersey, maple leaf

Meanwhile on the back, there are even more nods. From the top down:

  • We have a “TO16” black-white-and-gold patch on the top
  • The All-Star logo, which is a combination of star and maple leaf
  • And then my favourite part, the Toronto skyline outlined in a slightly contrasting color above the player number
  • Finally the player name, below the number, which I actually don’t generally like — but here, where it’s placed there so it doesn’t compete with the skyline, it really works.
Sports Jersey Week: Toronto Raptors 2016 NBA All-Star Game jersey, back sportslogos.net

The point here is that even absent of the All-Star trappings, this is a great Raptors jersey because it represents Canada and Toronto so well.

And if you do want just one more Raptors and Canada-related touch, you only have to look as far as the accompanying shorts, which feature the Raptor claw logo ripping through a star, which in turn is inside of a maple leaf.

Sports Jersey Week: Toronto Raptors 2016 NBA All-Star Game jersey, shorts sportslogos.net

To top it off of course, the “road” jerseys are in Raptors colors!

On the one hand, this jersey is so great it’s kind of a shame that it couldn’t be adopted for regular Raptors use. But then again — it’s also pretty cool that it was a one-time thing, for a one-time event.