The Toronto Raptors organization has been starved for national attention since Vince Carter departed from the franchise many years ago.
But the powers that be are looking to change that as evidenced by their most recent move, appointing superstar rapper Drake as global ambassador to the team.
The Grammy Award-winning Torontonian is an extremely popular figure in rap music and should help attract fans to the Raptors.
This decision is the first in a series of changes that new Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiwke is expected to make in an effort to rebrand the Raptors.
“Drake will be our ambassador and help us forge this new vision, this new buzz, this new excitement for where we’re taking this organization,” Leiweke told the media at a press conference on Monday in Toronto, where it was also announced that the city would be getting the 2016 NBA all star game.
“This is a team, and this is a sport that’s going to rock this city going forward.”
Drake serious with new role
Though the specifics of Drake’s involvement with the team were left somewhat vague, it is clear that both parties are taking this marriage very seriously.
“Obviously, I won’t be able to be in the building every day but I am extremely dedicated to it,” Drake said of his new role. “I do take it very seriously as a new job and a new chapter in my life.”
From a marketing perspective, adding Drake to the mix is a genius move for Lieweke. Aligning the team with one of the most popular rappers in the world can only help boost the team’s popularity.
“He is a worldwide artist,” Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan said of Drake. “In my opinion, one of the best rappers in the game today. With him being from Toronto, and him backing us, it’s definitely big.”
In addition to simply peaking the interest of fans, the worldwide attraction that Drake brings to the table is something that could be leveraged as a recruiting tool when it comes time to bring in potential free agents to Toronto.
Being personally recruited by Drake could be the extra nudge that a player needs to make the decision to play for the Raptors.
“It’s great for the city, it’s great for the team, it’s great for the franchise,” said point guard Kyle Lowry. “With a global artist like that, being around and being a marketing guy, it’s always really good to have something like that for the popularity of the team and the city and the organization.”
This move, along with the all star game announcement, is proof that Leiwke is going to do whatever he can to put Toronto back on the map as a basketball city.
For the first time in the last six seasons, the Raptors are armed with some seriously marketable players — Rudy Gay and Jonas Valanciunas standout — and have the potential to actually make the playoffs. That makes this the perfect time to begin generating buzz and creating interest in the organization.
Ultimately, it is going to take wins keep the fans and the general public interested, however, for the time being, the organization is making all of the right moves.