Raptors' annual "Drake Night" still surreal for Toronto-based rapper | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Raptors' annual "Drake Night" still surreal for Toronto-based rapper

Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, left, and rapper Drake pose with a coat lined with a Raptors jersey at Drake Night prior to NBA basketball action between the Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers in Toronto on Wednesday, November 25, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
November 26, 2015 - 5:32 AM

TORONTO - It's been three years since the first annual instalment of "Drake Night" at Air Canada Centre, but the Canadian rapper behind the event still can't believe it's happening.

Nor will he take much credit for it.

"This is surreal," Toronto-born Drake said prior to the Raptors' 103-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. "Even though it's my name it's something we always do for the city. We try to get the crowd up and create exciting moments. Yes it's named after me but it's definitely dedicated to the city of Toronto."

Fans at the game were given free black and gold Drake-inspired t-shirts and headbands, which the rapper and his clothing line/record label OVO designed.

The 29-year-old has been involved with the Raptors for the past few seasons after being named a "global ambassador" for the team in 2013.

He even helped design the Raptors' alternate gold and black jersey, new this season, which he unveiled at his OVO Fest concert in Toronto over the summer. The team wore them against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

"I hope it lasts forever," Drake said of his partnership with Canada's only NBA team. "Again, the Raptors are an institution in this city. I always like to be here to get the city excited.

"I'm a hometown boy. I'll never stop supporting. As long as we have wonderful guys like Masai (Ujiri, the Raptors general manager) here, I'm sure the partnership will grow and blossom."

Drake, who was at Staples Centre last week to watch the Raptors easily beat the lowly Lakers, said he wasn't too concerned with the stiffer competition for Wednesday's game.

That included Cavaliers superstar and four-time league MVP LeBron James.

"LeBron's like my brother," Drake said. "He's one of my closest friends in the world. But tonight is about Toronto. I'm not really worried about LeBron or the Cavs. It's about our city, our team. Right now, it's a Raptors thing."

One of many Canadians to dominate the Billboard charts recently — his latest single "Hotline Bling" is currently No. 3 on the Top 100 behind Adele's "Hello" and Stratford, Ont., native Justin Bieber's "Sorry" — Drake said he was thrilled to be able to watch a number of Canadians thriving in the NBA as well.

Three of them — Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, Raptors guard Cory Joseph and Raptors forward Anthony Bennett — were in uniform for Wednesday's game.

"All good friends of mine — Tristan, Cory, Anthony," Drake said. "I think basketball in Canada is growing as a whole and we're all excited about it. I talk to Masai about it all the time.

"Seeing these kids develop, being high draft picks, I think it's only going to get bigger. Hopefully they find their way back here one day."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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