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With Media Day and the expected announcement of the 2016 All-Star game set for Monday, who saw the real story becoming Drake’s official partnership with the Raptors (as first reported by The Star’s Cathal Kelly)?

You can mock the idea of the Raptors turning to a Toronto-repping hip hop star for help with their rebranding (and the reported clothing line) all you want. But in the most star-driven of stars’ leagues, a little help from an international superstar (whether or not you like his music is irrelevant to the fact that Drake is just that) with well known connections to the league’s elite can’t hurt.

Does Drake being involved with the team amount to any assurance of credibility or on-court success? Of course not, and in fact there are likely those who see just the opposite. But if Aubrey Graham wants to flex his star power on behalf of Toronto the next time the Raptors have money to spend in free agency and a superstar or two in their sights, this fan base should be welcoming the marketing ploy with open arms.

If Rudy Gay opts out and Kyle Lowry walks (or is renounced), the Raptors could find themselves with max cap space next summer for what’s shaping up to be a similar free agent bonanza to 2010, but the more realistic target seems to be the summer of 2015, when DeMar DeRozan and Steve Novak are currently the only Raptors with guaranteed money on the books (Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross both have team options as part of their rookie scale deals, while Quincy Acy and Dwight Buycks have potential qualifying offers on the books).

For what it’s worth, the 2015 free agent class could include Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap, among others.

Now in terms of that rebranding we keep coming back to, here’s what Kelly writes in his Star report:

According to sources at MLSE, everything about the team is on the table . . . aside from the name. Give up your Huskies dreams. MLSE and Drake are sticking with dinosaurs.

Okay so it sounds like The Raptor and the Raptors name won’t be headed to Belize after all (HAD to make a Breaking Bad reference today). So what exactly is this reincarnated brand going to entail? A logo change? Completely new uniforms? Both?

The one thing that I can’t see changing is the red and white colour scheme, since Tim Leiweke first brought up a possible rebranding while discussing how he wants to make the Raptors more obviously ‘Canada’s Team.’ Having said that, the whole ‘Canada’s Team’ thing hasn’t really come up since, and I also can’t see all this talk of rebranding ending with only a slight change of dinosaur logos and the same general look, right?

In any event, Monday’s gathering, which in addition to Drake will include Adam Silver, Michael Chan (Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture), Larry Tanenbaum, Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri,¬†is set to be the most fascinating Media Day in team history.

I’ll be back to discuss it all later today.

Comments (7)

  1. They’re almost certainly looking to follow Brooklyn’s lead.

    The Nets were more or less a joke and so, to many Americans, are the Raptors (as a franchise). Just look at how Stephen A. Smith laughed when Drake told him he’d be working to improve the Raps’ profile (in the Kelly piece), how the questioner was dead silent when Andrew Wiggins said his favourite team was the Raptors, etc. etc.

    The Nets used a new arena, new location, new uniforms, new logo and colour-scheme, Jay-Z, and a billionaire owner to really re-create their image pretty quickly. Toronto can knock arena, location, and ownership off that list already. All they’ve got left to work with is uniforms, logos, colours, and celebrity endorsements.

    I could care a whole lot less about all this than, you know, the actual basketball operations, though. Winning a lot will make an LA franchise with a yellow and purple colour-scheme named after a Minnesota’s camping and fishing reputation the most powerful brand in the league. It’s just about winning, really.

  2. It’s funny, as I like the current branding with the EXCEPTION of the name.

    Sure, it’d be neat for them to be blue and white like all of the other teams (pretend that TFC doesn’t exist for the purposes of this discussion, much as everyone in the city does), but I think the red and white is pretty symbolic.

  3. Make no mistake, MLSE is calling him a “global ambassador” but drake’s biggest and most important duty will be recruiting nba stars to play in toronto whether through trade or FA. That more than anything, is going change the fortunes of this team around. The rest of the BS theyre tossing around about his duties is just fluff.

    • Just to add to that, if he can even get nba stars to consider playing in toronto it would be an improvement. Whether he can actually get them here, is going to be the question. Many NBA stars love his music but is that enough to get them to play here in the winter? We’ll find out.

      • I’m not expecting him to personally recruit a superstar (although that would be fantastic) so much as just improve the profile/image of the Raptors in general. Jay-Z definitely added a level of hip-hop/celebrity credibility to the Nets that didn’t exist before he got involved. Those intangibles are definitely part of the process when NBA players make FA decisions.

  4. Drake is a joke – he sais what ever he thinks the people around him at at the time want to here. He is a phony piece of crap. “Miami’s my team” and laughing with SAS about the Raps a few days ago. Then tryin’ to sell today that his heart and soul is with the Raps always has been. The coward should have stood tall and shot back at SAS when he was dissing Drakes “heart and soul” team – I would have, cause that’s what real tough guys do with convictions and pride do, they don’t let anybody punk thier “heart and soul”…He said the Raps are his team today ’cause he is getting paid too…money rules every thing around him, G.R.E.E.D…even if it means being a fake bitch!

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