Drake, Raptors give boost to communities and Canada basketball

Published On January 18, 2018 | By Eric Reid | News, Sports

Raptors audience in 2014 playoffs (WIKI MEDIA/ Shaheen Karolia)

By: Eugenio Garro

Community basketball courts around the City of Toronto are getting a boost from none other than Drake and the Toronto Raptors.

Prior to tip-off against the Detroit Pistons, a news conference was held Wednesday to announce that Drake and the Raptors are donating $1 million over the next three years to renovate local community basketball courts.

“My biggest thing that I’m most proud of in this partnership is the $1 million that we are going to be giving to the city to redo these courts,” Drake said. “And hopefully create an amazing atmosphere for anyone in that community to come out and either play casual basketball or potentially breed the next generation of Canadian basketball superstars.”

Drake said it’s easy to say you will do something but what is even bigger is actually doing it.

“What was most important to me was just the call to action,” Drake said. “This day and age it’s really easy to get on social media and talk about things we’d like to see change or things that we think are wrong.”

Drake was named the Raptors Global Ambassador four years ago by President Masai Ujiri who sat next to the Toronto music star during the press conference. He too understands how big this donation is.

“Giving back to the fans was very important for us,” Ujiri said. “Giving back to our communities is huge.”

For the most part, Ujiri, spent the news conference outlining how big Drake has been not only for the Raptors but also for basketball in Canada.

“We can’t do it any better than the King of Toronto, the King of Canada, I say in entertainment, in human lives; everything we are seeing going on all over the world now to have somebody special like this for us I think is huge,” said the Raptors President.

“We appreciate all the support; we have to make Toronto the best atmosphere in the NBA and it’s becoming the best atmosphere in the NBA. I can’t wait to go to every single Raptors game and we’re damn proud of it and we thank Drake for his support.”

Along with the $1 million donation, the plan is to donate $2 million to Canada Basketball over the next five years.

In a statement given to Humber News from Canada Basketball, the organization expresses gratitude for the generous donation.

“Canada Basketball is grateful to the Toronto Raptors for their continued support as one of our longest standing partners,” said Michele O’Keefe, President & CEO, Canada Basketball. “Support like this allows the game of basketball to continue to grow in Canada, from grassroots initiatives to our national programs.”

Basketball in Canada has been growing year after year, and with notable players in the game today like Toronto natives Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk leading the charge, the future looks bright.

“We’ve produced some incredible talent I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon,” Drake said.

At the news conference, Ujiri touched upon a topic that surrounds Drake when it comes to being at Raptors games. Many fans notice that he isn’t in his courtside seats as often as they’d like to see. But the Raptors President put that issue to rest.

“There is always the question whether drake is here or not. Drake is a man of the world. We understand the business he is in and what he does and we are proud of him,” Ujiri said.

Drake admits he isn’t around as much as he would like but wants his impact to be felt even when he isn’t in the building.

“Obviously I wish I could be here all the time I wish I could be at every game,” Drake said. “My career unfortunately doesn’t allow for it but I think the key is to make my presence felt even when I can’t be here.”

The list of basketball courts that will get facelifts or other communities that will get courts has not been released as of yet.

“I promise you Raptors basketball, Canada basketball, and Toronto as a whole will only get better,” said Drake.

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