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What impact will Drake have on the NBA?

Photo illustration by Marta Kierkus

Drake was on his worst behaviour during the closing of his star-studded concert at the October’s Very Own festival in Toronto.

With NBA superstar Kevin Durant in attendance, Drake asked the crowd how loved KD would be if he were to come to Toronto, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Lord knows where Durant will sign in the summer of 2016, but seeing as Lebron James will most likely never leave Cleveland, Kevin Durant’s pending free agency will be a hot topic among basketball fanatics for the next two years.

Normally, that type of comment by an artist would not make headlines. But since Drake is the ambassador of the Toronto Raptors, it’s a different story.

The NBA responded to the rapper’s comment by fining the team $25,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The league had to act out to prevent meddling on the part of other teams (cough, cough, Washington) who are beginning their own pursuit of Durant.

It’s the second time in less than six months that a Raptors representative has been fined for a comment in front of a crowd. Do you remember how General Manager Masai Ujiri finished his speech before Game Four of the Brooklyn series? It went along the lines of cussing Brooklyn in front of thousands of Raptors fans.

Rumour has it the NBA would have removed the fine if the Raps let go of Drake as the team’s ambassador. Seeing as both the Raptors and Drake have money to blow, it’s not surprising that they declined the NBA’s proposal.

The league may have fined Drizzy to stop the tampering floodgates from opening, but it’s interesting to note that in 2009, before Lebron James and Dwyane Wade were set to be- come free agents, the league did not fine Jay-Z—who at the time had small ownership of the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets—for rapping about their impending free agency on the hit record Empire State of Mind. Shouldn’t the line of a song that hit airwaves worldwide be considered tampering just as much as a man high on adrenaline asking a crowd how much he would love to see a player on his team?

It was a small slap on the wrist, and to the letter of the law, Drake was in the wrong. But if this indeed is the planting of the seed of Kevin Durant’s signing to Toronto, we should look at the bigger picture. Whatever tampering the Raptors would have to pay for signing Kevin Durant would be well worth the price.