Toronto Thunder? What Could Have Been For Expansion Raptors

Before the Thunder rumbled all over the NBA from Oklahoma City it could’ve been from Toronto… or so we’ve just learned.

Today Richard Peddie, the former CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Tweeted a photo of him having lunch with current MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum while wearing an unusual logo on his jacket.

He accompanied the photo with the following information: “Great pic with my old boss LT. To lunch I wore the raptors’ jacket we used when we presented to the @nba 26 years ago. Team name would have been the Thunder”

Well, that’s interesting!

Not only did Peddie already have a name, but a logo too. A closer look at that logo:

It shows a black bird rising with several yellow and blue lightning bolts and a red basketball on it, the team name arched above in red and blue.

It’s not often I see something this old for the first time anymore, especially when it involves a pro team in my own backyard. Incredible we’d never heard of this before today.

Thunder never made it very far in the selection process for Toronto’s expansion NBA team name, when the list of the finalist team names was released in April of 1994 it was nowhere to be found amongst the Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers. While Dragons came very close to winning the day and Grizzlies eventually headed west for the other expansion team that year, it was the Toronto Raptors that of course eventually won the day.

The original sketch that inspired the Toronto Raptors logo

In 2008 when the Seattle SuperSonics moved south to Oklahoma City, they chose the name Thunder as their new moniker with a logo nothing like what we see from 1993 on Peddie’s jacket (though honestly, it would’ve been an improvement).