Having been lucky enough to attend every home game so far this season, I know the ACC has been consistently full of people and a great atmosphere. Still, only a few games could be classified as "events". Certainly opening night, the TNT Thursday night affair against the Bulls and Masai Ujiri's night of tribute to Nelson Mandela against LBJ and the Cavs all classify as event games. But none reached the hype level of Drake Night II in terms of the fan base wondering what might be in store.
Let me tell you, the evening did not disappoint.
From the moment you stepped into the arena, there was an imminent buzz that filled the air. The crowd was excited to see the Raps avenge last season's playoff loss to the Nets, and even an hour before tip many were already sporting the sweet throwback tees:
Prior to intros and tip off, I followed along with Drake's media scrum on Twitter and thoroughly enjoyed reading his answers. While poking fun at himself with some song references in regards to the team's performance, Drake's comments on the full rebrand of the team next year are sure to ignite some controversy. I'm excited to see what Drake and the creative team come up with as I'm sure much of the fan base is too.
Following a wonderfully put together pre-game playlist of Drake's earlier records, just past 8, the pre-game clock hit triple zeroes. Showtime was upon us. Following a video that was straight FIRE, Drake took control of the mic just as he did to introduce the starting five with his own flair.
No nickname has stuck with JV since he's come into the league, "Big Science" might just be the one to do it.
Throughout the game, there were many Drake/OVO themed giveaways to get the crowd on their feet and riled up. Aubrey Graham even gave away his jacket, after pointing to a section in the 300's and imploring them to go crazy when the winner was show on the big screen, Drizzy added, "It's not gonna fit unless you're a large though." We were even treated to a tribute dance performance from "Rizzy Raptor."
After the Raps embraced the motto of #WeTheFourth and blew the game open in the final frame, Drake capped off the night by standing up and hugging Kyle Lowry upon his exit, and then getting in on the madness that was BRUNO-mania for the final minute of the game.
No matter your personal opinion of Drake, you can't deny he's a great personality for the Raptors to have repping the brand worldwide. With that infectious smile, clean cut personality and charm, Drake is a match made in heaven for the Raptors and vice versa. The crowd loves him, the players love him, and more importantly Drake loves the city of Toronto and will do anything he can to help turn the Raptors into a legit player in the NBA.
Drake Night isn't about Drake, it's about the fan base coming together to support the team and represent Toronto. And when all those ingredients are put together, and the Raps are rolling at first place in the East, it makes for a wonderful night at the Air Canada Centre.