Noted rap/R&B enthusiast Drake held his fifth annual OVO Fest in his native Toronto this weekend, featuring performances from the likes of Outkast, Lauryn Hill, Usher, 50 Cent and Trey Songz. The concert was the place to be, and to be seen, for a variety of celebrities, including not only the evidently svelte LeBron James, but also the man who beat him out for the NBA's 2013-14 Most Valuable Player Award.
Yes, Kevin Durant took in the festivities over the weekend, and in case you hadn't heard, multiple NBA teams are already looking to position themselves to woo the Oklahoma City Thunder mega-star and offensive linchpin of the U.S. roster at the upcoming FIBA World Cup when he enters free agency in the summer of 2016. (Yes, 2016, as in two years away. The NBA rarely cares about its present as much as its future.) As Drake got set to wrap up his performance, he took the opportunity to momentarily set aside his duties as a pop-music performer ... and do a little work as the global brand ambassador for the defending Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors, with the help of a few thousand of his closest and loudest friends.
HEAD'S UP: The final two seconds of this YouTube clip feature a well-amplified swear word, so listener discretion is advised.
It's no secret that the Raptors — who just re-upped Durant's old pal, Greivis Vasquez, another highly committed and vocal recruiter — would love to secure the services of Durant, and have constructed their balance sheet in such a way as to have salary cap space roster and flexibility come the summer of '16. It will be up to general manager Masai Ujiri and head coach Dwane Casey to lead a deep Raptors roster to the sort of success over the next couple of seasons that will make Toronto an attractive enough free-agent destination that Durant won't have to list his childhood love of the Dinos as the most compelling reason to go north of the border, but for the time being, an overpowering outpouring of love and affection doesn't seem like the worst thing to leave KD thinking about as he headed back to the States:
Just keep that non-preferred-nickname-using Canuck Trebek out of the way and you'll stay on the right foot with Durant, Toronto.
Something remains somewhat unclear, though: Does Drake's ambassadorial affiliation with the Raptors technically make him a team official? And if he is technically a team official, would exhorting an amphitheatre full of people to "let [Durant] know what would happen" if he came to Toronto constitute an act of tampering, defined in Larry Coon's CBA FAQ as "when a player or team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anybody (player, general manager, etc.) who is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services?"
The answer's probably no, and as Coon notes, the league office tends "to wait until a team lodges a complaint before investigating" potential acts of tampering. But who knows? Maybe the Thunder front office will get a little ticked off at all the chatter surrounding whether or not their signature star will bail in two summers, and they drop Commissioner Adam Silver a displeased missive, and we all get a little more clarification as to what Drake's role for the Raptors constitutes. It'd be a fun, nonsensical little sideline item to keep an eye on, if nothing else.
In the meantime, though, we've got Toronto's most notable rap dude making an early overture for the league's MVP. With Washington Wizards fans already salivating at the prospect of bringing hometown hero Durant back in two summers, you know Wale's plotting some kind of counteroffensive. (Especially considering he probably hasn't forgiven or forgotten Raptors play-by-play man Matt Devlin.)
The KD shoutout wasn't the only NBA-specifc item on Drizzy's OVO Fest performance checklist, either. Check out the backdrop that ran on a loop during his set, as captured by longtime friend of the program and Raptors reporter Holly MacKenzie:
Lint rolling in the front row of a playoff game. Never forget.
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