Prehistoric: The Audacious and Improbable Origin Story of the Toronto Raptors (Hardcover)
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The improbable story of the birth of modern-day pro basketball in Toronto
In just over 25 years, the Toronto Raptors have evolved from an intrepid expansion team to an NBA champion. But for all the triumphs of the past decade, the beginning looked a bit different. When the franchise began its first season in 1995, a pro basketball team in Toronto was viewed as an experiment. There was no playbook to follow, and very few people gave them a chance to succeed.
In Prehistoric, irreverent Raptors voice and culture writer Alex Wong explores the franchise’s fascinating and unconventional inception through 140 original interviews with those involved with the team’s very beginning, examining the process of how the team came up with their name and logo inspired by the blockbuster film Jurassic Park, taking a behind-the-scenes look at the drafting of star point guard Damon Stoudamire, telling the backstories of a group of misfits who formed the first-year roster, and providing an in-depth look at the team’s opening night victory at the SkyDome and the expansion franchise’s signature win over Michael Jordan and a 72-win Chicago Bulls team.
The Raptors boldly and intentionally pursued a much different audience in a hockey-first town. The result is a team who went through the necessary growing pains and eventually captured the heart of a city, as told in this essential origin story through the lens of the people who were there to help lay the foundation for a thriving modern-day basketball franchise in Toronto.
About the Author
Alex Wong is a writer based in Toronto. He has written about basketball and culture for publications including The New Yorker, GQ, SLAM, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. He is the author of Cover Story: The NBA and Modern Basketball as Told Through Its Most Iconic Magazine Covers. He co-authored the Canadian bestseller We The Champs: The Toronto Raptors’ Historic Run to the 2019 NBA Title.
“It might sound strange now—having witnessed a Raptors championship and seen Jurassic Park become the NBA’s greatest mosh pit for diehards—but Toronto wasn’t always an NBA hotbed. In fact, it was once considered a distant outpost, a curiosity, a gamble, foreign in every sense of the word. As Prehistoric so vividly reminds us, it took a little faith, a little luck, and lot of persistence and passion to bring the Raptors to life. Alex takes you into the board room and the locker room to get the story of the Raptors’ rise—from the players, coaches, and executives who lived it.”
—Howard Beck, national NBA writer
“Alex Wong is that rare writer who can make a reader from any walk of life care deeply about the people he writes about, long after the last sentence. Prehistoric is much more than a basketball book. This beautiful, innovative exploration of a franchise reminds us that hoops can be a haven for belonging and community.”
—Mirin Fader, The Ringer
“As a lifelong Raptors fan, Prehistoric floored me with an intimate, revelatory glimpse into the origins of a team I thought I knew everything about. Alex’s compelling prose and exhaustive reporting left me awed and engaged from beginning to end.”
—Yang-Yi Goh, GQ
“From the Raptors’ origins as a mere idea in a dreamer’s head to the team’s push to sell basketball to a hockey-mad town to how a diverse cast of characters found themselves on an NBA expansion team in Canada, Prehistoric is an unrivaled account of how this beloved team came to be. This book is essential reading for one of the most rabid and diverse fanbases in sports.”
—Joseph Casciaro, theScore
“I learned so many things reading Prehistoric. The amount of research done on the inception of the Raptors is truly unprecedented. Despite being a fan of the team since the beginning, my jaw dropped several times while reading. I was sent down a memory lane I didn't know existed.”
—Tas Melas, No Dunks podcast co-host
“Prehistoric is the story of how an unlikely cast of characters bonded as a family to deliver the first NBA franchise in Canada. The author brings you closer to everyone involved, from the staffers scrambling to sell tickets to the unlikely owner who won the bid to the castoff players who became cult heroes in Toronto. This book is a must-have for all Raptors fans, from the Day Ones wanting a nostalgia trip to the newer fans who will spot the same roots in the team almost three decades later.”
—William Lou, The Raptors Show
“‘When did you fall in love with basketball?’ It's a question I'm often asked. Thankfully, my answer is to now just hand over a copy of Prehistoric, which perfectly captures the joy of having your own NBA team to root for as a young teen. The purple jerseys. The SkyDome. Mighty Mouse. This is the ultimate trip down memory lane, and a must-read for any Canadian hoops head.”
—J.E. Skeets, No Dunks podcast co-host