The big announcement wasn’t a big secret, but it was still big thrill to see MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke proudly bring the 2016 NBA All-Star game to Toronto and get the local Grammy Award winning artist Drake to become the Raptors Global Ambassador.
“It was 20 years ago to this day that Toronto was awarded the first NBA franchise outside of the United States and the Raptors were born,” said MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “A dream I had became an NBA reality and today I am blessed that my dream came true and I am part of this great organization.”
“(The All-Star game) creates jobs. It drives the economy. It fills hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, perhaps more importantly, it puts smiles on the faces of the fans,” said the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
“I was really, really thrilled to hear Toronto would be hosting the 2016 NBA All-Star game,” said Mayor Rob Ford. Friends, the estimated economic impact of hosting the NBA All-Star game is approximately $100 million. This is an amazing opportunity to drive economic growth while showcasing our vibrant city on the world stage. For one week in 2016, Toronto will become the basketball capital of the world.”
“We couldn’t be more proud to have the All-Star game here,” Leiweke said. “We are bringing today a new partner and an Ambassador – Drake. We have been meeting with Drake for a while now and talking about the involvement they want to have. This isn’t just about the NBA. This isn’t just about the 2016 All-Star game. This is about the Raptors. It’s a new day. It’s a new way and under Masai (Ujiri) leadership and vision, there is a reason this club has led the NBA in new season ticket sales. There is a reason why we are now going to submit to the league a new application for new branding, a new image and new colours. Not a new name, but new branding and Drake will be an Ambassador and help us forge this new vision, this new buzz, this new excitement. This is a team and this is a sport that is going to rock this city going forward.”
“We now have a responsibility to grow our basketball team so that it meets the momentum of the All-Star game and we promise you in Toronto that we are going to bring the best basketball. That we are going to do everything we can to play basketball the right way in this city to bring success,” said Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri.
“I travel the world performing and everywhere I go, I preach the gospel that is Toronto. I love this city with all my heart and I just want to let you know that I am extremely excited to finally be a part of a team that I grew up as a fan of,” Drake said. “I am excited for the new vision. Basketball in Canada is bigger now than ever before and All-Star 2016 is a phenomenal step, something that I dreamed of as a kid.”
“I truly believe that with a leader like Tim (Leiweke) anything is possible, the sky is the limit, as well as Masai (Ujiri),” Drake said. “I really just want excitement for this team. I want us to be one of the biggest teams in the league.
“I want to be as involved as possible. Anything they need me for I want to be here for. Anything that can help the Raptors grow in the future. My goal is to do anything these two gentlemen (Leiweke and Ujiri) ask me to do.”