Toronto Raptors Throwback Jerseys: The Purple Dinosaur 1990’s Raptors Jerseys are Back to the Future

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raptors throwbacks

Despised at the time, the Toronto Raptors’ throwback jerseys from 1995-1999 were apparently ahead of their time.

When those jerseys were released in the mid-1990’s, the purple pinstriped “dino” jerseys featured a red dinosaur dribbling a basketball and was nearly-universally derided by players, media and fans for its unpolished, over the top cartoony design that reminded everyone of another purple dinosaur popular during that decade. It’s a surprise that they lasted four seasons considering what a joke they were considered back then.

To be honest, I disliked Toronto’s jerseys at the time, too. I think a lot of the reason why critics had such a negative visceral reaction was that those Raptors jerseys were so completely different than what we’ve seen from jersey design. This was highlighted by the fact that the Raptors were an expansion franchise and that teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls dominated the 19080’s and early 1990’s with clean classic looks. The Raptors mascot-heavy design was breaking tradition.

Raptors Throwback, Retro Jerseys

The sentiment toward the purple dinosaur jerseys lasted up until the last decade. That’s when the Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady-era jerseys made a huge comeback; one that has seen the Raptors throwbacks consistently listed as one of the best NBA jerseys in the history of the league.

In fact Sports Illustrated listed the throwbacks at #8, Bleacher Report held the vintage Raptors uniforms at #23, and we’ve listed the retro Raps jersey in the top five of all-time (list forthcoming). So that’s a little Toronto Raptors jersey history for you, now let’s get into the visual part of this page. Take a look at the throwback Raptors jerseys below and if you’re interested in grabbing one, go ahead and click on the image.

Tracy McGrady Raptors Throwback Jersey #1 from the 1990s (White)

This Tracy McGrady Raptors throwback jersey is in home white. To our surprise, this is currently the best-selling NBA raptors throwback jersey on — over Vince Carter’s #15 jersey. Get the T-Mac jersey here.

throwback raptors jersey #1

Raptors Throwback Jersey: Vince Carter #15 Toronto Raptors Jersey (Purple)

Speaking of which, Vince Carter’s time in a Toronto Raptors jersey came to an end after seven seasons, but he will be forever immortalized as the poster child of this era’s Toronto Raptors uniform.

throwback raptors jersey purple

Vince Carter Throwback Jersey: White 1990s Retro Raptors Jersey #15

throwback raptors jersey

Throwback Raptors Jersey:  Tracy McGrady #1 Purple Jersey from 1990’s

Here’s Tracy McGrady’s #1 purple Raptors uniform.

throwback raptors tracy Mcgrady jersey

Throwback Raptor Jersey: 1990s Marcus Camby #21 Toronto Jersey (Purple)

throwback raptors jersey #21

Raptors Vince Carter Throwback Jersey: Reversible Practice Tank Top (White/Purple)

Wanna wear your throwback raps jersey while on the court, then this retro Raptors reversible practice jersey is for you.

throwback raptors jersey reversible

Toronto Raptors Vintage Shirts, Clothing

It’s not only those jerseys that have made the comeback. Those retro designs from the 1990’s are so immensely popular — especially with the Raptors winning the NBA Championship — that the purple and red dinosaur design is also available in shirts, hats, jackets, pullovers, sweatshirts and flip flops. Basically anything you can print something onto, you can get the throwback Raptors logo on it. Check out some of the items we picked out from the NBA Store’s throwback Hardwood Classics collection.

Raptors Throwback Shirt: Vince Carter #15 Raptor Purple

throwback raptors purple tee

Classic Toronto Raptors Vintage T-shirt (Raptors Logo, Black)

throwback raptors shirt

Toronto Raptors Throwback Warm-Up Jacket – Purple

Raptors Throwback Mesh V-Neck Pullover Shooting Shirt


Toronto Raptors Throwback Long Sleeve T-Shirt – Classics 1990s

Throwback Toronto Raptors Dinosaur T-Shirt in Red

throwback raptors t-shirt


Loud NBA Jerseys Were a 1990’s Thing

The Toronto Raptors weren’t alone in producing loud, gaudy, and wild jerseys the NBA had ever seen up to that point.  It was a sign of the times. Isiah Thomas, then the Raptors’ Vice-President at the time, described the purple dinosaur uniforms as “a fresh look, a very exciting look” that targeted young fans.

During the 1990’s the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and fellow expansion franchise Vancouver Grizzlies all turned the rules and guidelines of jersey style and design on its head.

The Hawks featured a giant hawk carrying a basketball in their talons staring into your soul. The Bucks’ throwback jersey had a two-toned silhouette of a… well, a giant deer on the jersey. During the Grant Hill era, the Pistons introduced a teal jersey with a flaming horse on it while the Phoenix Suns also went completely literal and went whole-hog on purple and a blazing cartoon sun.

Like the Raptors, those old-school jerseys were definitely not well-received, but they’re back in style with a vengeance (for the first time?) and coveted for their retro and vintage all-over print design.

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