The Toronto Raptors may not have played on the NBA’s Oct. 19 opening night, but the excitement was still in the air.
That’s because the franchise – alongside the (now defunct) Vancouver Grizzlies – had their feature short film “Born Identities” released the night prior.
Directed by Kathleen S. Jayme, the flick chronicles the genesis of the Raptors’ and Grizzlies’ inaugural logos.
“To be a part of the NBA – in a very small way – to celebrate its 75th –year anniversary season has been very special and meaningful to me,” said Jayme, via telephone in an exclusive interview to PlayCanada.
“It’s been so cool to get messages from friends and family saying they’ve seen my trailer during games or commercials.”
Born Identities part short film series with NBA, OLG
Officially named “NBA Films for Fans created with OLG,” Born Identities is part of a short film series featuring five different Canadian filmmakers.
The NBA partnered with OLG to commemorate Canadian basketball ahead of the NBA’s 75th anniversary season. Each film uncovers something unique about Canadian basketball thanks to the support from the NBA and OLG.
Initially, all of the films premiered at the 2021 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) in September. But now, the NBA is rolling them out throughout the league’s 75th year.
Jayme’s was the first released for public viewing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Jayme’s film may just land as the most memorable of the bunch.
Just consider that the Grizzlies’ and Raptors’ logos and uniforms remain among the most popular amongst NBA die-hards. Many believe the jagged pinstripe and vibrant look epitomized 90’s NBA basketball.
Teams such as the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets all incorporated similar designs.
Few have had the same cultural impact as the Canadian teams, however.
“Nostalgia,” said Jayme, pausing for a moment.
“It reminds us of our childhoods and takes us back to that time because, let’s be honest – they weren’t popular when they first came out. People said they were too loud. Too cartoonish. But now it’s tough to find any Grizzlies retro gear.”
NBA’s first creative director gives full access in film
In the film itself, Jayme interviews the NBA’s first creative director Tom O’Grady at length.
O’Grady was responsible for the branding of over 25 NBA teams between 1990 – 2003.
And through “unprecedented access” to NBA video archives, the artist details the creative process behind the iconic logos.
“I knew the broad strokes of the story…but I had no idea one person was behind all of these iconic jerseys in the 90s,” she said.
“It was a pleasure and honour to meet (Tom) and build this friendship and bond with him through this project.”
Enriching basketball culture in Canada
Despite the great reception of her short film, Jayme is already onto her next project.
“The Grizzlie Truth,” says Jayme, is her “ultimate dream project.”
“The film explores how Vancouver got its team in record time and how it lost the team in record time,” said Jayme, referring to the Grizzlies brief six-year existence in Vancouver.
“But there is still a lot of mystery as to why the team left, so that is the story I want to tell.”
Fittingly, Jayme’s crown jewel (to date) happened in 2018 via another Grizzlies-based project.
In “Finding Big Country,” Jayme chronicled a quest to locate former Grizzly big man, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves.
To date, it’s received much international acclaim and is available to watch on ESPN and Amazon Prime Video.
NBA season tips-off, Raptors drop opener
The Raptors dropped its opening game 98 – 83 to the Washington Wizards to tip off the 2021 -2022 season on the hardwood itself.
Currently, the team sits at 6-6 (win-loss). Analysts project the team will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Interested viewers can watch Born Identities at the NBA Films for Fans website.
The second film, “Inheritance,” launched on Nov.11. Directed by Shawn Gerrard, the film examines the generational transfer of love for the game.
The third film in the series, “Shorty,” will debut on Jan. 31, 2022, with the remaining films to follow.