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A brief history of the Toronto Raptors

How Masai Ujiri got the Raptors to the NBA Finals
WATCH ABOVE: How Masai Ujiri got the Raptors to the NBA Finals

On Thursday night, the Toronto Raptors will begin the final leg of their current quest for the NBA title.

Born in 1993, it has been a long history with more downs than ups for Raptors fans.

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What follows is a list of the major moments of the only NBA franchise currently located outside of the U.S.

Nov. 4, 1993: Franchise awarded to a group headed by Toronto businessmen John Bitove and Allan Slaight.

WATCH: Entrepreneur who founded Toronto Raptors is proud of the team and the arena he helped build

Entrepreneur who founded Toronto Raptors is proud of the team and the arena he helped build
Entrepreneur who founded Toronto Raptors is proud of the team and the arena he helped build

May 15, 1994: A nationwide contest for naming the team ends with Raptors (Toronto Towers was No. 2.)

May 24, 1994: The team logo is revealed and Isiah Thomas is introduced as the team’s first GM. A short time later, Thomas announces Brendan Malone as the team’s first coach.

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June 24, 1995: Chicago Bulls guard B. J. Armstrong becomes the first member of the Toronto Raptors after being selected in the expansion draft. He refused to report and was eventually dealt to the Golden State Warriors. Among the other notable Raptors selected that day were John Salley, Acie Earl, Zan Tabak and Ed Pinckney.

NBA Basketball – A portrait of Toronto Raptors guard Damon Stoudamire in Toronto on June 24, 1996.
NBA Basketball – A portrait of Toronto Raptors guard Damon Stoudamire in Toronto on June 24, 1996. Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images

June 28, 1995: The team selects Damon Stoudemire seventh overall in a draft held at the SkyDome in Toronto. The Raptors first draft pick is announced to a chorus of boos.

Oct. 14, 1995: The Raptors play their first exhibition game in Halifax defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 120-107.

Nov. 3, 1995: Raps host New Jersey Nets at the Skydome, winning 94-79 in the team’s first regular season game. Veteran guard Alvin Robertson leads the way with 30 points while Stoudamire also records 10 points and 10 assists.

Spring 1996: Stoudemire named NBA rookie of the year. The team would finish with a 21-61 record and Malone would be fired as coach.

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November 1997: Thomas leaves the organization with his former assistant Glen Grunwald eventually taking the reigns.

February 1998: Maple Leaf Gardens Inc., owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, buys the Raptors and the Air Canada Centre, which the basketball team was building. The organization is renamed Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

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Toronto tattoo shop offers free ink to Raptors fans
Toronto tattoo shop offers free ink to Raptors fans

June 1998: The Raptors make a draft-day deal to acquire Vince Carter, who was selected fifth overall by Golden State.

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February 1999: The Air Canada Centre opens, allowing the Raptors to exit the cavernous Skydome.

February 2000: Carter becomes first Raptor to play in the NBA All-Star game. He would also win the slam-dunk contest.

Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors jumps to make the slam dunk during the NBA Allstar Game Slam Dunk Contest at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.
Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors jumps to make the slam dunk during the NBA Allstar Game Slam Dunk Contest at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport

April 2000: The Raptors make their first playoff appearance with a team led by Carter, Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley as well as Steph Curry’s dad, Dell. The Raptors are swept by the New York Knicks.

Spring 2001: The Raptors get revenge on New York a year later, winning their first playoff series in five games. Toronto is ousted in the next round by Philadelphia in seven games, with Carter missing a buzzer-beater which would have secured victory for the Raps.

Spring 2003: An injury-ravaged season for the Raptors ends with the team getting the fourth pick in what is considered to be one of the greatest draft classes in NBA history. The team would select Chris Bosh, a surefire Hall of Famer, who would make 11 All-Star appearances.

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December 2004: Carter tanks until he gets his wish and is dealt to New Jersey for Eric and Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two draft picks.

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Raptors fans line up outside Jurassic Park at least 15 hours ahead of Game 1 tipoff
Raptors fans line up outside Jurassic Park at least 15 hours ahead of Game 1 tipoff

February 2006: The team fires Rob Babcock as GM. He is replaced by Bryan Colangelo.

June 2006: The Raptors win the draft lottery in the wrong year as the NBA has instituted a new rule that forces high school players to spend one year out of high school before they can be entered into the league. Toronto selects Italian centre Andrea Bargnani with the first pick and he never develops into a credible NBA player.

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December 2008: Sam Mitchell is fired after an 8-9 start and replaced by Canadian assistant Jay Triano.

Summer 2009: The Raptors select DeMar DeRozan ninth overall.

Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors yells to the defense against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors yells to the defense against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

April 2010: The Raptors miss the playoffs after a season-ending injury to Bosh coincides with a slide down the standings. That summer, he signs with Miami, joining fellow marquee free agents Dwyane Wade, who re-signed with the Heat, and LeBron James.

Summer 2011: With the Raptors missing the playoffs, Canadian coach Triano is replaced by Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.

Summer 2012: The Raptors chase Canadian legend Steve Nash in free agency but when he chooses to join the Lakers, the team sends a draft pick to Houston for Kyle Lowry.

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September 2013: In a marketing effort, Drake signs on with the Raptors as the team’s global ambassador.

WATCH: Steve Kerr not worried about Drake, says he ‘called him on his cellphone’

Steve Kerr not worried about Drake, says he ‘called him on his cellphone’
Steve Kerr not worried about Drake, says he ‘called him on his cellphone’

April 2013: Tim Leiweke becomes the new President and CEO of MLSE. He would leave less than 18 months later but he would replace Colangelo with Masai Ujiri, his former Raptors assistant. Leiweke would also put Brendan Shanahan in charge of the Maple Leafs and would also help TFC sign Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco

Spring 2014: A playoff drought of six seasons comes to an end with a team led by Lowry and DeRozan. The Raptors would fall in seven games to the Brooklyn Nets.

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Feb. 14, 2016: The NBA All-Star Game is played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, marking the first time the contest is held outside of the U.S.

Spring 2016: The Raptors continue to progress by beating Indiana and Miami but falling short against LeBron James and the Cleaveland Cavaliers in the conference finals.

Spring 2018: The Raptors finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference but cannot find their way past LeBron James once again as they are disposed of by the Cavs in Round 2. Dwane Casey is named coach of the year but is let go a month later. His former assistant, Nick Nurse, is eventually tasked with the job.

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July 18, 2018: In a move that shocks the world, Ujiri makes a risky trade by sending fan favourite Derozan, young centre Jakob Poeltl and a draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

April 2019: After missing most of the previous season with a leg injury, the Raptors limit their new star, Leonard, to just 60 games but the team still finishes second in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid watches from the corner as Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard squats down and sticks out his tongue waiting for the ball to drop for Raptors to win.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid watches from the corner as Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard squats down and sticks out his tongue waiting for the ball to drop for Raptors to win. Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

May 12, 2019: With seconds remaining in Game 7 of the Raptors second round series with Philadelphia, Leonard hits a buzzer beating winning shot from the corner which will go down as one of the greatest clutch shots in NBA history.

WATCH: Kawhi Leonard hits game-winning buzzer beater to advance Raptors to Eastern Conference final

Kawhi Leonard hits game-winning buzzer beater to advance Raptors to Eastern Conference final
Kawhi Leonard hits game-winning buzzer beater to advance Raptors to Eastern Conference final

May 25, 2019: The Raptors erase a 15-point deficit against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to earn their first trip to the NBA Finals.

May 30, 2019: The Raptors will tip off against the Golden State Warriors at Scotiabank Arena.

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