By Willy Phan
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors point guard has received his first Canadian endorsement.
Lowry said Monday that his partnership with Sport Chek illustrates his dedication to the Raptors organization for the next few years.
“For me to get a sponsorship from a Canadian Company… it’s just like me being at home,” said Lowry, who will serve as the face of Sport Chek’s #MyNorth basketball campaign.
Drew Ebanks, On Point Basketball blogger and host, told Humber News Lowry’s deal with SportChek was just the tip of the iceberg for business and basketball in Toronto.
Fans have flocked to home games with the average attendance rising from over 16,000 to almost 20,000 since 2011 according to ESPN. The city is also hosting the 2016 All-Star Weekend next February.
“Companies are going to be coming into the mix,” said Ebanks. “They’re going to want to put on campaigns and be involved with the Raptors.”
The Raptors launched the We The North campaign during the playoffs last season in an effort to brand the franchise as Canada’s team.
The sudden spike in the Raptors’ popularity and on-court success resulted in Sport Chek’s own #MyNorth campaign.
“We know what’s happening with the Raptors right now. They’ve got all eyes on them,” said Ebanks.
“Everything about #MyNorth is designed to tell raw, inspiring stories of basketball in the GTA,” Duncan Fulton, Senior Vice-President of Canadian Tire Corp. told reporters.
The announcement of sponsorship deal with Sport Chek was made in advance of this year’s NBA All-Star weekend in New York where Lowry will start in backcourt for the Eastern Conference lineup.
Over 805,000 votes were cast in favour of the 28-year-old including support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and pop star Justin Bieber, NBA.com reported.
The Markham Unionville Minor Basketball Association was taking part in a series of basketball drills in the Raptors practice gym prior to the announcement. When the young players found out Lowry was there, they reacted with excitement and disbelief.
Lowry even tweeted that he was excited to meet the young players.
— Kyle Lowry (@Klow7) February 9, 2015
“It’s just awesome to be in my position to give back and to be able hang out with kids and teach them the things I learned growing up,” said Lowry, who took part in additional basketball drills with the team.
Ebanks told Humber News that it was a special moment to see the youngsters’ reaction to Lowry’s presence.
“It’s a great moment for the kids obviously and that’s what [the Raptors] do it for,” said Ebanks.