By Scott T. Sterling
Drake has never missed an opportunity to champion his hometown of Toronto, from name-checking the Canadian city in multiple songs to publicly supporting fellow native, The Weeknd, both onstage and on TV (he wore a Weeknd Kiss Land tour cap on a recent episode of Chelsea Lately). Now the actor turned world’s biggest rapper of the moment will throw his substantial support and influence behind his city’s NBA franchise, the Toronto Raptors, as the team’s official global ambassador.
“I travel the world performing, and everywhere I go I preach the gospel that is Toronto,” Drake said at a press conference to formally announce his new position with the Raptors. “I love this city with all my heart, and I just want to let you know that I’m extremely excited to finally be a part of a team that I grew up as a…diehard fan of, I’m sure like everybody from this city. I’m excited for the new vision.”
Also part of the announcement was the news that Toronto will host the NBA All-Star Game in 2016, a week-long event that’s known for bringing as much to $100 million in revenue to the host city. The occasion will mark the first time that the game and surrounding festivities will be held outside of the United States.
“Basketball in Canada is bigger now than ever before, and I think that All-Star 2016 is a phenomenal step, something I dreamed of as a kid,” Drake said. “I think I speak for everybody in this city when I say that I can’t wait for All-Star 2016.”
Part of Drake’s new association with the Raptors includes the “Started from the Bottom” rapper helping to redesign the team’s image, complete new color schemes and a Raptors-branded clothing line for the 2014-15 season.
Despite the Toronto Raptors being far from NBA elite, Drake maintains the faith that his team can regroup and become a genuine basketball force to be reckoned with in the future.
“Something has to give. We’ll pull it together, Toronto is a great city,” the rapper told ESPN about the Raptors. “We’ve had some great players, we have a great facility, great spirit. I think eventually Toronto could be one of the top contenders in the league, I hope.”
Drake’s new album, Nothing Was the Same, is poised to debut at No. 1 on this week’s Billboard 200, with early returns pointing towards the set selling moving as many as 725,000 copies in its first seven days of release.