The Toronto Raptors have been fined $25,000 for comments that rap star and team ambassador Drake made about Kevin Durant at a recent concert that the NBA has deemed a violation of its anti-tampering rules, sources with knowledge of the league’s ruling told ESPN.com on Monday.
Rapper Drake, the global ambassador for the Raptors, asked a Toronto crowd to
show their support for Kevin Durant during a recent concert where the NBA MVP was in attendance.
The sources said that Durant, who attended Drake’s recent show in Toronto, was the subject of what the league regards as a public recruiting pitch from the famed Canadian artist.
In September 2013, Drake was formally named the Raptors’ global ambassador.
“Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something,” Drake announced to the crowd. “You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder star and reigning NBA MVP then received an ovation from the crowd, which reportedly launched into a “KD” chant.
Durant becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016 and various teams — notably his home-state Washington Wizards as well as the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers — are already known to be positioning themselves to have sufficient salary-cap space to make a run at him.
Drake hosted the 2014 ESPYs.
The Raptors were reportedly fined $25,000 after Drake made comments regarding Kevin Durant at the music star’s OVO Fest. Drizzy’s comments were deemed to be in violation of the NBA’s anti-tampering rules, but according to a report in The Globe and Mail, the team was offered an opportunity to have the fine dropped.
…the NBA offered to drop the tampering fine if the team agreed to strip Drake of his title. The Raptors apparently refused.
Drake is not an official employee of the Raptors, but does serve as the team’s “global ambassador,” a partnership that was announced last September.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, the NHL’s Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC, among other properties, is a multi-billion dollar company, and in a superstar-driven league like the NBA, keeping an entertainment superstar with as much influence as Drake in the fold is worth more than any damage a $25,000 fine can inflict.
The Raptors are coming off of a franchise-record 48-win season and their first trip to the postseason in six years. Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game and the team is on track to have salary cap flexibility in the coming years.
Durant is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016.