While the world awaits Kawhi Leonard’s decision in NBA free agency, it appears the Toronto Raptors are going to make sure they make one more big push to re-sign the star forward. Although it’s unknown if they’ll be able to keep Leonard from leaving for Southern California, they appear ready and willing to take a unique approach.
Beyond just the team’s normal pitch to the NBA Finals MVP, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that Raptors Global Ambassador and super fan Drake is mounting his own recruiting campaign.
“The Raptors haven’t backed off one centimeter and Drake is said to be mounting his own recruiting campaign on top of whatever the freshly minted champions are doing to convince him to stay” Stein tweeted.
This can’t be considered too surprising, as Drake took center stage during the Raptors’ run to the NBA title. Although it’s unknown exactly what the rapper’s pitch will include, there’s no question that it’ll be big and provide plenty of firepower in the process.
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Drake’s Connection to Raptors
Along with the aforementioned fact that Drake is a Global Ambassador for the team, the Raptors’ practice facility was named after his popular OVO brand, now dubbed as the ‘OVO Athletic Centre.’ Following the news of the naming rights deal, Drake received high praise from Raptors president Masai Ujiri for his impact on the franchise, per Josephine Cruz of Complex.com.
“Drake and OVO are an important part of our city’s landscape, our team’s identity, and our plans to bring a championship to Toronto,” said Raptors President Masai Ujiri.
“With each step of our partnership over the last five and a half years, we have worked together to build a winning basketball program in Toronto and deliver for our fans and our community. This new naming rights deal for our training facility is a perfect example of the strength of this partnership and the innovative opportunities it can generate.”
Beyond just the basketball-related aspect of Drake’s impact on the Raptors, he’s also teamed up with the Raptors to help make an impact off the court. The ‘Welcome Toronto’ program, which was created by Drake and the Raptors, helped donate $1 million to refurbish local basketball courts and also send $2 million to Canada Basketball, per Complex.
Whether Drake’s recruiting pitch to Leonard will be enough to get the job done and help keep him in Toronto remains the million-dollar question. Obviously, the Raptors must feel fairly confident in his ability to pitch the All-Star forward.
Based on these rumblings, it appears Leonard’s free agency decision may not be coming in the immediate future, which will only add to the drama over the coming days. At this time, though, it seems the Raptors and two Los Angeles teams in the Lakers and Clippers are the final three left battling to sign him.