Raptors Celebrate Their Global Ambassador With “Drake Night”

Posted: January 12, 2014 by ericbernsen in Interviews, Music, NBA, News, Sports
Tags: , , , ,

Back in September, it was announced that Toronto-born rapper Drake had been named the new “global ambassador” for the Toronto Raptors. While the term is a rather vague one, it was clear that Drake was hired to plan an integral role in promoting the festivities for the 2016 NBA All-Star game, which will be held in Toronto. Drake is also playing a part in helping the team rebrand as it redesigns its image and apparel in honor of the Raptors 20th anniversary next season. The team decided to honor the partnership this weekend when the Raptors took on the Brooklyn Nets coining it as “Drake Night”. From a halftime DJ set to giveaways of the new black-and-gold Raptors T-shirts as well as the new OVO Jordan’s, there was no shortage of celebration at the Air Canada Centre. Before the game started (the Raptors won by the way), Drake had a press conference in which he answered some questions about his role within the organization, comparisons to Jay-Z, as well as his overall goals for the city of Toronto. 

You can read a transcript of the interview and watch a video of it below. Drake also announced the starting lineups before the game, which showcased him featuring a ridiculous rendition of the typical “announcer” voice. Watch that below as well and let us know what you think of Drake’s role in the Toronto Raptors organization.

On having his own night, usually reserved for people who die
“What a morbid start to this. I’m honoured. I feel great. Tonight’s not really about me, despite the title of the night. 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. Since the announcement, there’s a new energy that everybody is feeling. That’s really what tonight’s about. I wanted to black out the stadium, give out the t-shirts. I’m going to DJ at halftime. I’ve got gifts and tricks up my sleeve. I’m going to announce the players with my own little twist. It’s a fun night that I was able to curate and facilitate. Other than that, it’s more about Toronto and this team and how well they’re doing.”

On his job as global brand ambassador
“It’s great. I communicate almost weekly — I would say daily, but I’m sure we miss some days — but definitely every week … with Tim [Leiweke] and Masai [Ujiri]. 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. There’s a phenomenal team. 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.”

On a possible Raptors-Heat playoff matchup, since he is friends with LeBron James
“I think that the Raptors are playing really well. Honestly, I haven’t been following the Heat this season. I’ve been so into this. I am a LeBron fan. He is a good friend of mine. I have new obligations and a new love this year. I’m not really into the Heat season. I’m more into [the Raptors] season.”

On helping Toronto FC land Jermain Defoe
“I don’t know if I had an influence on him coming here. I think that all I did was give him the necessary information about a city he didn’t know much about. I told him how great it’s been to me, and how great I assumed it would be to him. We had a great conversation. We built up a personal relationship. I’m excited to see him begin his career here. I just do what I can. [Leiweke] is the boss. It’s all Tim, really. I was just a piece of the puzzle, I guess.”

Is relationship with MLSE evolving?
“I believe so. I believe tonight is clear evidence that the relationship is evolving by the day. I want to do everything I can. I hate to be redundant, but it’s really just about the city for me. My phone was blowing up all day long for people that wanted to come to a Raptors game. That to me is exciting. Tonight isn’t a Drake show. It has nothing really to do with Drake. At the end of the day, the Raptors are playing the Brooklyn Nets. It has nothing really to do with me. I’m just going to be sitting there. The fact that people want to come out, participate, get a free t-shirt: if that’s what it takes to put people in the stands, than every night could be Drake Night if you want. If I didn’t have to tour, I’d come every night. I just want to add to this city and this team. Tonight is going to be a great trial to hopefully get to where we need to be energy-wise. I want this to be an intimidating building. I want us all to seem like such a tight-knit family. All of us, 17, 18,000 people, I want us to all be there present in this moment when we play. Obviously with the last few weeks, this isn’t some team that you can just brush aside. That’s kind of our goal, all of us, to sort of let that be known.”

On potential black-and-gold colour scheme for Raptors rebrand, due in 2016
“Do you like it? 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.”

On talking with former Nets minority owner Jay-Z
“I don’t really need to talk to anybody else other than Tim and Masai [Ujiri] to be honest with you. No offence to Jay-Z and what they did in Brooklyn, I think it’s great. I think they did what works for them. They also built a new facility in a completely new neighbourhood. We have an established great building, an established great team. We’re not trying to change the name or change too much about what we have already. I think we’re just trying to give people something exciting to look at and give them an atmosphere that’s just a little bit more invigorating. … At the same time, the last time I saw [Jay-Z] was on New Year’s Eve. There was a lot of champagne going around. The last thing we were thinking about was the Raptors rebrand.”

On best thing about working with Leiweke and Ujiri
“I get to wear suits a lot, which is really good. I get to come to this building a lot, which is really good. They’re two of the smartest guys I’ve ever met. The ideas they come up with, I just get to sit back and learn, which is a great thing for me. I get to sit with those guys and take it all in. Learning more about a field that I didn’t know I’d be in necessarily, but I’m honoured that they considered me. I add what I can. They give me their suggestions. We make a great team. It’s just an exciting job to have. I’m very proud, especially when I tell girls. That’s the best part.”

On advancing in sports business or management
“I just love being under [Ujiri’s] wing and listening to everything that he has to say and contributing what I can. If I do get into sports, I’m pretty much where I want to be. I wouldn’t really want to leave. Just being part of this company, I’d love to stay here. If my role can grow at any point in the future, I’d love that.”

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