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For many years, being a Toronto basketball fan felt a little bit like being Pinocchio. Only, instead of wanting to be a real boy, you just wanted the Raptors to be a real team. Sure, we believed our squad was real, but at times the rest of the league made us feel like we were lying to ourselves. Entering the NBA in 1995 as its first (and currently only) non-American franchise, the dinos existed in a silo. Between the lack of nationally televised games, the reluctance of stars to play here, and our emotionally abusive relationship with LeBron James, it was hard to shake the perception of Toronto as an illegitimate basketball market.
Well, not anymore. The Raptors are now NBA champions. And though we might still get treated like the asexual wooden marionnettes of the league, a chip is undeniable. That's history made. As legitimizing as it gets.
But you know what else is? Dope-ass rap references about your team. Older heads from Toronto will remember how hype they got upon first hearing Busta Rhymes name-drop Vince Carter in 2000. It felt like being seen. And not just being seen by American culture—that's a rapper admiring a Toronto Raptor enough to immortalize them in a verse, forever recorded in the annals of hip-hop history, for future generations to study. How's that for proof of existence? (Also, Drake is the Raps' No. 1 fan, and that dude will one day be integrated into school curriculums like the motherfuckin' Beatles, so we're good.)
In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Raptors' first championship win (June 13, to be exact), we're highlighting the very greatest bars about Canada's only NBA team. And to toast the franchise's 25th anniversary, we've adjusted our listicle length accordingly. These are the 25 best Toronto Raptors references in rap. They're the real deal.