Young Money rapper Drake helped put Toronto, Canada on the hip-hop map, and last year he became a global ambassador for his hometown’s NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. Speaking to Grantland, Drizzy explained why he wanted to become affiliated with the Raptors and how his perception of the partnership changed as he watched the team’s progress this NBA season.
“I think initially, the union, the partnership between myself and the Raptors, was purely for the fact that I love that city more than anything in the world,” Drake said. “I have too many tattoos and too many memories. I was born there, raised there. I grew there. And I just wanted to really support the team. I didn’t necessarily know how it was gonna go. I didn’t know if I would be able to make an impact in sports because sports is way different, you know? You look at sports fan’s reactions to a lot of things. Whether it be me hosting the ESPYs or whether it be—It’s just sports is a different type of appreciation —when people from other genres start coming in. So, I had high hopes for what we could accomplish, but I was just there purely for the city. And the union made sense.”
The Raptors have had success over their almost 20 years in the NBA, but have not been a perennial playoff team. Nonetheless, the team is in the NBA playoffs this season and Drake gave credit to Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri and Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
“I think that all the elements have to be in place,” he said. “And now it’s up to Masai and Tim and us. I mean, all of us. I like to include myself, but I like to give the credit to them. It’s up to us to now build on what we have. And what we have maybe a few months ago I would have been like ‘Well, we really gotta build on.’ But what we have, it ain’t so bad when you really take a look at it. I mean, it’s incredible.”