Toronto’s global ambassador is a man with a plan. Superstar recording artist Drake is out to make the Raptors a hot ticket again and is excited to be involved in the rebrand of the franchise, which celebrates its 20th season next year. Drake, the Toronto native who shot to fame after taking up music following an acting stint, was named global ambassador in late September just after the Sun broke the news Toronto would host the 2016 all-star game. He said he is in weekly conversation with Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke. “I’m just trying to make this a better, stronger team all around. I have my hands in a lot of different areas right now,” said Drake, while wearing a suit jacket lined with a classic Vince Carter jersey inside. “Everybody who works for the Raptors is great, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming ... Tonight’s just sort of a glimpse into how exciting this is going to get.” Asked about a potential black-and-gold rebrand, Drake played coy, asking the media if they liked the design. “You never know. I think it looks great, too. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t think anything has been established yet. That’s another thing I’m working everyday on, just trying to make it better and stronger. If you like it, I like it.” With a Grammy in his pocket, along with three Junos and over five million records sold, the 26-year-old was humbled by the night being named after him. Told that usually happens when someone retires or dies, the polished artist’s answer came swiftly: “What a morbid start to this,” he said with a smile. “I’m honoured. I feel great. Tonight’s not really about me. I think it’s just more about the momentum in the city, bringing the city together, how well these guys have been playing, honouring this squad that is really finding each other, finding stability with each other and the revamp of this team.” Black and gold tee-shirts were handed out to early arriving fans and quickly were being sought out via online channels. One security guard said he was being offered $130 for one of them. Drake gave out items like branded shoes, his DJ did a set at halftime and he even announced Toronto’s starting lineup, with a comic twist: “Jonas Valanciunas likes to spend his spare time at Scarborough Town Centre.” Though he tried to celebrate with the champion Miami Heat last year, Drake said he now only has eyes for the Raptors, though his friendship with LeBron James still stands. “Honestly, I haven’t been following the Heat this season. I’ve been so into this ... I have new obligations and a new love this year.” And Toronto loves him back, apparently.
Drake loving life as Raptors ambassador
Toronto Sun | Jan 12