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September 30, 2013

Michael Chan

Rob Ford

Aubrey Drake Graham

Tim Leiweke

Adam Silver

Larry Tanenbaum

Masai Ujiri

THE MODERATOR:  Before we get to the details, let's meet today's special guests.  First, please welcome the minister of tourism, culture and sport for the province of Ontario, the Honourable Michael Chan.  Next, elected as the 64th mayor of the city of Toronto in 2010, please welcome Mayor Rob Ford.  Appointed chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in 2003, our next guest also serves as the governor of the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto FC, Mr.Larry Tanenbaum.  One of the true leaders in the professional sports and entertainment industry, he is currently president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, please welcome Tim Leiweke.
Time now to meet the man who was named president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors on June 1, one month after being named the NBA executive of the year, Masai Ujiri.
Our next guest is a Toronto native, a Grammy Award winning recording artist and now the new global ambassador of the Toronto Raptors, please welcome Drake.  And here is the NBA's deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, Adam Silver, the man who will make today's big announcement in just a few minutes.
Before we call on Adam to make that announcement, there are a few people in attendance we'd like to recognize.  Please welcome Dale Lastman, co‑chair of Goodman's, LLP; David Whitaker, president and CEO of Toronto tourism; Diane Young, CEO, Direct Energy Center.  And now to make today's landmark announcement, here is the NBA's deputy commissioner and COO, Adam Silver.  Adam?
ADAM SILVER:  Thank you, Matt, and it is my privilege to announce that the 2016 NBA All‑Star Game will be hosted here in Toronto, Canada.
Many of you here may not know that the first ever NBA game was played here in Toronto in 1946, actually against the New York Knicks, so it's only fitting that the first All‑Star Game ever played outside the United States would also be played here in Toronto, as well.  So from a league standpoint, we're absolutely thrilled.
The All‑Star Game in addition to the weekend of activities is going to be filled with a week‑long festival surrounding basketball, and we're going to be working with the minister, the mayor, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, to make sure that this week of All‑Star activities touches every member of the community.  In addition, the All‑Star Game itself is seen in well over 200 countries, and so Toronto for that week will be the absolute basketball capital of the world.
Last, there's a couple of thank yous, just a few thank yous before I move on.  First of all, to Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.  Larry, you and I have known each other for 20 years.  Thank you very much for being a great mentor to me and for making sure this All‑Star Game came to fruition.
Next, Tim Leiweke, the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a long‑time friend.  He thinks he holds the personal record for hosting the most All‑Stars in some other cities, as well.  Thank you, Tim.  And I should say that there's no question this would not have happened without Tim who is the ultimate closer in all of sports.  Also great thanks to Tom Anselmi and Brian Colangelo, who began this process, and it wouldn't have happened without them, as well.
Masai, welcome to Toronto.  You guys have one of the very best GMs in all of sports, not just in basketball.  We've traveled the world together, and I know he's going to do a fantastic job here.
The Honourable Michael Chan; thank you, Mr. Minister.  We look forward would working with you.  Mr.Mayor, we just met briefly backstage, but we look forward to working with you, as well.
And Drake, the Raptors' new global ambassador.  I know you've got a new album that just came out.  It's either No.1 or about to be No.1, so congratulations on that, too.  For those of you who don't know, Drake has attended the last four NBA All‑Star games and actually performed at one of them and I assume will be performing at the All‑Star Game here in Toronto, as well.
Lastly, I want to thank my boss David Stern as well as my colleagues at the NBA who also made this happen, in particular Ski Austin, who runs our events department who is here today and Myles Pistorius, who works with Ski.  We can't wait to be back here for the All‑Star Game.  Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Adam.  Next the primary force in bringing an NBA franchise to the city of Toronto, MLSE chairman of the board, Larry Tanenbaum.  Larry?
LARRY TANENBAUM:  Thank you, Matt, and thank you, Adam, for being here today.  It's an absolute pleasure and honor for me to be here today celebrating today's announcement.  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.
Although at that time, my Palestra Group lost its bid to own this franchise, a dream I had to bring the NBA to Canada became a reality, and today I'm blessed that my dream came true and I am part of this great organization.
Today Toronto is able to celebrate being awarded the NBA All‑Star Game.  Our Raptors represent not just the city of Toronto but all of Canada and its 35 million people.  Certainly there is no city in North America that can boast this fan base and the incredible sport of NBA basketball.
All‑Star 2016 is coming here, and we are ready to highlight our great city of Toronto.
We have many people to thank for making today possible, but I'd like to start with our extraordinary NBA commissioner, David Stern, and our equally impressive deputy commissioner, Adam Silver, who will rightfully assume the commissioner's title this coming February.  Both these men and all of the wonderful people at the NBA have been strong supporters of the Raptors and of basketball in Canada.
Today's news is solid proof of that.  Thank you to all of you at the NBA.
We would also like to thank the province of Ontario, represented here today by Minister Chan and the city of Toronto, represented by Mayor Ford, for their commitment to the culture of sports in Toronto, and especially for their support in hosting the 2016 NBA All‑Star Game.
Thank you to Tim Leiweke and all the staff of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for their never‑ending hard work, and congratulations to them on today's announcement.
Toronto is the fifth largest city in North America, and the perfect venue to showcase the incredible All‑Star Weekend.  The jam session, the celebrity challenge, the rookie challenge, three‑point shooting, the dunk contest, all culminating in the All‑Star Game.  Great fun for our fans right here at the ACC, one of North America's finest sports and entertainment facilities.
Finally, I'd like to use this moment to thank Raptor fans in Toronto and across Canada for your dedication to your team.  From the moment this team was born on September 30, 1993, to today's great news, you have supported our young team, and we invite you all to please come, celebrate the NBA All‑Star Weekend in 2016.  We look forward to working hard over the next two years to host one of the best All‑Star games in NBA history.  Come join us.  It will truly be amazing.  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Larry.  Now let's hear from the man who in addition to his involvement with NBA All‑Star 2016 is responsible for bringing the 2015 Pan and Para Pan‑American games to Toronto, the Honourable Michael Chan.
HON. MICHAEL CHAN:  Folks, make no mistake, I have nothing to do with the weather.  Mayor Rob Ford, Commissioner, honored guests, on behalf of the province of Ontario and the Premier, Danny Williams, delighted to be here today.  Last year it was a Gray Cup game, fantastic success.  Not long ago this past summer in June, here, same building, we announced the World Junior Hockey championship.  That was great news.  And today NBA All‑Star Game is coming to town.  Fantastic news.  Hosting in my ministry is an important role because it creates jobs.  It drives the economy.  It fills hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, perhaps more importantly, put smiles on the faces of the fans.
Thank you so much to MLSE, the Raptors' organization, Tourism Toronto and others for making this wonderful game possible.  Go, Raptors, go.  Jump, Raptors, jump, and score.  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  We look forward to your involvement over the next two years.  Thank you very much, Mr.Chan.
Next up, the Mayor of Toronto who also happens to be a very active supporter of sports, Mayor Rob Ford.  Mayor?
MAYOR ROB FORD:  Good morning, everyone.  It's absolutely great to be here today.  I was thrilled.  I was really, really thrilled to learn that Toronto would be hosting the 2016 NBA All‑Star Game.  This is absolutely fantastic news, fantastic news for the city of Toronto.  I want to congratulate Tim Leiweke and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for bringing this exciting event to this great city.
I also want to thank Commissioner Stern, Deputy Commissioner Silver and the NBA for their long‑time commitment and support to Toronto.  The NBA All‑Star is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year.  It brings the world's most talented players to a global audience.
This is the first time ever, folks, that the NBA All‑Star Game has been hosted outside the United States.  This privilege speaks to our world‑class city.  Friends, the estimated economic impact for hosting the NBA All‑Star Game is approximately $100 million.  This is truly amazing.
This is an amazing opportunity to drive economic growth while showcasing our vibrant city on the world stage.  For one week, for one week in 2016, Toronto will become the basketball capital of the world.  Fans from 200 countries around the world will see everything, everything this beautiful city has to offer.  This phenomenal event will help further establish Toronto as one of the top sports markets in the world.
Again, I want to thank the NBA for choosing Toronto for their All‑Star Game.  Thank you very much, everyone.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr.Mayor.  Now let's hear from the man who in 2013 once again ranked in the top 10 on both Sports Business Journal's 50 most influential people in sports business and on Billboard's most powerful music industry executives.  Please welcome, everyone, Tim Leiweke.
TIM LEIWEKE:  Good morning, everybody.  On behalf of Larry Tanenbaum, Rogers and Bell, on behalf of the tens and hundreds of thousands of NBA fans in Canada, and most importantly, on behalf of the nearly 1,000 employees of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, to soon‑to‑be‑Commissioner Adam Silver and to the NBA, welcome to Toronto, and we couldn't be more proud to have the NBA All‑Star Game here.
I also want to thank the great work of Brian Colangelo and Tom Anselmi who really planted the seed with their leadership and now here today with the commitment that this organization, this city and this province have made, we promise to you the best All‑Star Game and the best All‑Star week you've ever had, and like all of us, you're going to fall in love with the great city of Toronto.  Welcome, and we can't wait to host in two years.
I also want to thank Minister Chan and the province of Ontario for your continued commitment to bringing the most outstanding events in all of sports to this great city and this great province.  Thank you, Minister.  To the mayor and all of the citizens of Toronto, thank you for allowing us to host the best in world‑class entertainment, and for the first time ever, the NBA All‑Star Game.
I also want to thank David Whitaker.  This is a new day and age for our partnership, for our vision towards Toronto and for driving the economy of this great city.
To soon‑to‑be‑Commissioner Silver and to Commissioner Stern, we're proud of our partnership here.  It's amazing that this is the first international NBA franchise.  This will be the first time we play the All‑Star Game outside of the United States.  We appreciate the fact that you have a vision and a commitment like we do to the greatness of basketball in Canada, and if you look at where we are headed as an organization, and we are going to help take this sport in Canada.  If you look at the No.1 draft pick in the NBA this past year and quite likely and probably soon to be a No.1 pick coming in the future, we are blessed that the sport has taken off in this great country, and this will be one more event, one more opportunity we have to reach out to everyone in this country and show the brilliance of the game of basketball and the NBA.
We are bringing today a new partner and an ambassador, Drake.  We've been meeting with Drake and Future for a while now to talk 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 age, and under Masai's leadership and vision, there's a reason that this club in the last month has led the NBA in new ticket sales.  There's a reason why we are now going to submit to the league a new application for new branding and a new image and new colors, 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 for where we're taking this organization.
This is a team and this is a sport that's going to rock the city going forward, and the NBA All‑Star Game gives us two years now to do some extraordinary things as we head to our 20th anniversary and create one of the greatest basketball opportunities, moments and franchises for the NBA.  We look forward to hosting you here.
Again, to all of you and to our fans in particular, thank you for being patient with us.  Good days are coming, and we couldn't be more excited.  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Tim.  Now we invite to the podium a gentleman who hopes to have some of his Toronto Raptors participating in NBA All‑Star 2016.  Please welcome Raptors' president and general manager Masai Ujiri.  Masai?
MASAI UJIRI:  I'm the only dumb one that didn't bring a paper to talk from.  I'll speak from here.  This is overwhelming.  This is unbelievable for us.  I'll speak on behalf of the players, our basketball team, the coaches, the front office.  I thank everybody for giving us this huge opportunity.
This is remarkable for our basketball team.  We have now 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, and we're going to do everything we can to play basketball the right way in this city to bring success.
We really thank you, and this is awesome for the fans and awesome for the city.  I appreciate everybody, and we'll get our job done.  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Masai, thank you.  Now a performer who has sold more than 5 million albums worldwide, here to give his thoughts on NBA All‑Star Weekend coming to Toronto, the Toronto Raptors' newly appointment global ambassador, Drake.
DRAKE:  First of all, good afternoon, everybody.  I have to say that I'm truly honored to be up here with these very distinguished gentlemen on this dais.  I'd like to thank Tim and Masai for granting me with this opportunity.  I think I'm extremely passionate about two things:  My city and my family, and being up here with my new family, these gentlemen.  I'm extremely excited.  Being up here let me know two things:  That I have a new family and go to Harry Rosen and get some more neutral suits because the vibrant blues aren't going to cut it at the press conferences anymore.
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'm extremely excited to finally be a part of a team that I grew up as a fan of, a die‑hard fan of I'm sure like everybody else from the city, and I'm excited for the new vision.  Basketball in Canada is bigger than ever before, and I think that All‑Star 2016 is a phenomenal step, something that I dreamed of as a kid, and I think I speak for not only all the young people, but I think I speak for everybody in the city when I say I can't wait for All‑Star 2016, and I cannot wait for the Toronto Raptors and the growth that myself, Tim and Masai are dedicated to.  Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to it.  I'm here always for this city, these guys, and thank you very much for your time.  I appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Drake.  Now we will give the reporters here at the ACC a chance to ask questions.

Q.  Drake, where do you think the Raptors can finish, and how can you help them get there?
DRAKE:  Well, I mean, I truly believe that, first of all, with a leader like Tim, I think that anything is possible.  I think that the sky's the limit as well as Masai.  An incredible change for all of us.
Myself personally, I'm really out here with the people.  I'm in touch with what they want to see.  I really just want excitement for this team.  I want us to be one of the biggest teams in the league.  I mean, it's already a well‑established franchise, and I'm just excited as now global ambassador, as a season ticket holder, to bring everything I can, everything in my power to increase the brand and just grow the franchise with these two gentlemen.  I personally feel that‑‑ I don't know if end goals are really what we should be discussing today, but I'm definitely excited to be involved, and I think that the sky's the limit under the leadership of these two gentlemen.  Thank you.

Q.  Drake, what is involved with being a global ambassador?  Do you have to go to ribbon cuttings, cake cuttings?  What's involved?
DRAKE:  Well, we've only had initial meetings thus far.  I think that at this point, like Tim mentioned, some of the rebranding aspects.  I hope I'm invited to the ribbon cuttings and what did you say, cake dinners?  Yeah, I want to be as involved as possible.  Obviously I have a busy schedule coming up.  I just released an album.  But anything they need me for, I want to be here for, anything that can help the Raptors grow in the future.  I think that, again, the sky's the limit.  Not to be redundant, but I hope to be as involved as possible.

Q.  For Tim and Minister Chan, what do you estimate the dollar value over the course of the week?
TIM LEIWEKE:  Well, in a normal NBA All‑Star Game setting, it's about $100 million.  The NBA has said that's pretty consistent from places like New Orleans and right before us will be New York, where both the Knicks and the Nets will co‑host it.
We have some other ideas, so some of these Drake has already come back to us.  One of the things we've loved about his addition to our thinking here is he wants this to be a celebration of Toronto, not just about basketball, not just about sports, not just about music.  So we're already talking about fashion, we're talking about films, we're talking about food, we're talking about all of the things we all know, and I've learned in the last six months, that are really the trademark of this great city, and to showcase it to everyone in the NBA.  Drake likes to make sure he's going to showcase it to all the players who want to come play here eventually.  That's not tampering; that was Drake, not me.  He said it, I didn't.  I'm just repeating him.
We certainly see it as an opportunity to let everyone see all the phenomenal parts of being part of Toronto here, and so I think the hundred million will be eclipsed here because of the way we're going to treat it, the way we're going to activate it and the way we're going to build upon it.
HON. MICHAEL CHAN:  I also wonder how much you guys like Drake.  On a humble scale, we're delighted that the province is able to participate in this wonderful game, the NBA All‑Star Game.  Of course the logistics, all those performance maximums will come out after the game, and of course the organization will be very keen on all these promotions and all the causes, as well.  I don't have an exact number, but I'm sure that it will be very, very beneficial to the city as well as to the province.  Thank you.

Q.  Drake, just wondering, from Jimmy playing basketball in a wheelchair to now being the official ambassador, you've come a long way.  Are you going to have like the best seat in the house now?
DRAKE:  You saw how I shot the look down over there?  I hope not only to have great seats, I hope to attend as many games as possible.  Like I said, as a season ticket holder, I do actually have a pair of seats now, so I'll be here as much as possible, yes, definitely.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.

Q.  Drake, you said you preach the gospel of Toronto.  What is it that you really love about the city and you think is perhaps being overlooked by the rest of the world?
DRAKE:  I truly feel that everywhere I go, I realize how culturally diverse it is here, what a melting pot it is.  Even when I travel, just amongst my friends, everybody that I've employed thus far is actually from Toronto, and just looking around at all of us, I mean, just our demeanor and the way that we move when we're anywhere else, whether it be in Europe or in the States, it's just a little different.  There's something genuine about this city.  There's something great.
I think aside from that, I think with All‑Star coming here, there's an untapped night life, restaurants, culture, there's so much to soak in, and I think that our goal is in 2016 to truly showcase that, not only for the players but also for everybody, I mean, for people that are from this city, proud to be from this city that know the ins and outs and for people that are just coming to visit.  I think it's just going to be a week where everyone leaves and everyone agrees that it was truly an incredible event.  I think that's the goal.  That's the gospel right there.

Q.  Tim, you alluded to a change in the color and the brand.  What's the timeline on that process, and where do you think your advice will take you on that way?
TIM LEIWEKE:  We submitted this month‑‑ we owe them some money, so we're assuming Larry allows us to crack that check.  We'll have a check to them.  And then we begin to work in conjunction with the NBA on a timeline, and then the timeline, I'll let the big dog talk about the timeline he puts us under as to when we get a chance to unveil this.
ADAM SILVER:  It's essentially a two‑season process because we have licensees throughout the world.  We have to register the new colors, the new marks, and the 200 plus countries I mentioned earlier where our games are broadcast.  So essentially the process begins now, and we'd be looking at season after next for the Raptors to unveil their new look.
TIM LEIWEKE:  I want to add to that, by the way.  We already have a local Toronto firm that we're working with.  I think we've also taken some of the great suggestions the fans have already given us and we're going to incorporate some of these fans into our process, and then that's one area where we're definitely going to involve Drake, and he's going to have a lot of input and give us a lot of time and energy towards what that look ought to be.

Q.  You've said that Toronto is your city, you're passionate about Toronto, but why do you love the Raptors?  What about the team do you love?  And are there any players that you'd love to lure to Toronto to play for them?
DRAKE:  Well, I think I'm going to duck the second part of that question, just for the sake of‑‑ I'm learning quickly.
Why do I love the Raptors?  I mean, of course the fact that a lot of my friends play for the team, Amir, DeMar, Rudy, but really it has to do with being born and raised here.  The Raptors, the Raptors' logo, the early stories of the Raptors, some of my first memories of going to Raptors games.  At the end of the day I have a lot of friends in the NBA, I've been to a lot of All‑Star games, I've been to a lot of NBA games, period, but the opportunity to be a part of this NBA franchise at home has me more excited than anything, and I think it has everything to do with the fact that it's the team that represents where I'm from.  Any opportunity I get to represent where I'm from is truly the best opportunity I could ask for.

Q.  Deputy Commissioner, how important is it that the Toronto team is actually a winning team when it comes into that 2016 season, and anybody else on the panel can talk about that, too?
ADAM SILVER:  I obviously represent 30 teams.  It's a zero sum game, so not every team can have a winning franchise.  However, over time my perspective from the league office is that management makes a huge difference, and it's great to see the team that Larry and Bell and Rogers have put in place here, Tim, Masai, the coach who's here today.  It's a wonderful organization, and every market is different in terms of how they go about winning, and there's a Toronto way, just like there's a New York way, just like there's a Miami way, and I know they're set on doing things in a way that are fitting with the culture of this community.
I think that's why it's so fantastic that Drake has joined, a lifelong fan, somebody, again, who sort of bleeds Toronto, and I'm convinced they'll find the right way to do it.  From my perch at the league office, I'm not in a position to root for my particular teams, but having said that, I have complete confidence in these folks that by the time we come here for All‑Star, there's going to be a winning tradition that will have been established here in Toronto.
MASAI UJIRI:  I think it's absolutely necessary for us to grow this basketball team where, like I said, the momentum just goes towards the All‑Star.  We'll get it done.  I think we're happy with what the players are doing now and happy with what our coaches are doing now.  We feel like we're moving in the right direction.  It's very, very important for us to have basketball successful while the All‑Star is being held here.

Q.  Tim, just in terms of how this job is going to work, is Drake on the Raptors' payroll?  Is he paid as a consultant?  How does that work?  And Drake, for you, given that your schedule is a little bit hectic, how much time do you have to devote to the day in and day out?
TIM LEIWEKE:  His office is right next to Masai's and mine.  We gave him a permanent office with a staff.  So I think the way we envision this is we understand he's now dropping his new music here this week and last week, so he's busy with that, and then he's about to start his tour here in a couple of weeks.  We'll see him back here at the Air Canada Centre sometime later this year and he's going to have 40 plus dates, so he's going to be pretty busy.  That's one of the reasons we wanted to get this announcement made.
But as it relates to the All‑Star Game, we've already had a couple of conversations with both him, Future and camp about other things that we'd like to do during that week.  We've begun to talk to Ski Austin and his team.  We are going to try to do some different things here with the NBA.  You're going to see us try to add a few elements to the All‑Star Game that's never been done, heavily influenced and directed by Drake.
So we're committed to making sure that he puts as much of a footprint on the All‑Star week as the NBA will allow us to.
As to the rest of it, he's smarter than Jay‑Z, he didn't have to write a check to own the team, so he gets all the perks and benefits.  You'll hear from Jay on that one, too, Drake.  But he's going to have an influence.
Masai and I sat down and talked to him about what he views our image and our brand ought to be.  I think he sees the world the same way we do, and I think we want to activate him in the thinking of what kind of buzz, what kind of brand, what kind of logo, and what kind of future we create for this organization going forward.
DRAKE:  I just wanted to add, aside from the Jay‑Z disk track that's on its way, I think the key to our relationship is going to be communication between myself and Masai and myself and Tim.  I think it's about communication.  Obviously I won't be able to be in the building every day, but I am extremely dedicated to it.  I do take it very seriously as a new job and a new chapter in my life.  It's not just something for the sake of all the cameras.  I'm extremely dedicated to the Raptors.  Of course today is about All‑Star Weekend, but I'm extremely dedicated to this franchise, and we'll figure it out.  That's what technology is for.

Q.  Drake, just how good is your outside jump shot?
DRAKE:  I think I proved it in the last few weeks.  I posted some brief Instagram videos just showing people that I'm still out here, still getting it.  You can always come see me in the Raptors' practice gym.  Whenever I'm in town I make it a habit to take the time that they're not using and brush up on my basketball skills, just trying to get the knee strong.  Are you challenging me or are you just asking?

Q.  All I need is a rap challenge.
DRAKE:  That's the last thing you want in your life, trust me.

Q.  When it comes to signing some of the big‑name players, do you see yourself in the meetings maybe helping entice some of these players to Toronto?
DRAKE:  Well, I think entice is a suggestive word, but I think that, like I said, I'm excited to be a part of the franchise growing.  I know that a lot of people, a lot of players get excited to even come and play here, get excited to even stay for a couple nights and experience not only the love in this building and the game in this building but just the city in general.  I know a lot of people that love Toronto with all their heart and even come here in their downtime, their off time.  With that being said, this is the greatest city in the world.  I'm sure this man right here would agree.  And yeah, I mean, I want to see as much like Masai and Tim, us become a winning team.  Whatever it takes, we'll get it done.

Q.  Is this the first time that a franchise has had an artist or celebrity, sort of like the face of a franchise?  And for Drake, too, are you hoping that what you're doing now is going to help open even more doors for Canadian artists?
DRAKE:  I guess I'll answer your question directed at me first.  I think that, first of all, Canadian anything is important to me, specifically music.  I think that this opportunity that I'm being presented with, I hope that it inspires and opens as many doors as possible.  I'm flattered.  I'm honored.  I'm excited.  For me it's a surreal experience to be up here.  So I hope that it does get other people excited and does spark ideas.  We were the first to do it, though.  I'd just like to establish that, though.  Definitely I'm excited about that, about breaking ground.
But of course if we can inspire in any way, I think we're all willing to.  But this is definitely about us, about the Raptors and about the weekend.
ADAM SILVER:  I'll just add, most recently there have been a couple references to Jay‑Z, who had an ownership interest in the Brooklyn Nets, was very involved in the rebranding of the team.  He and his partner Steve Stout, they had a "Hello Brooklyn" campaign which was viewed as extremely successful.  This was nothing to do with players on the court but a terrific campaign they ran in New York, and then Jay‑Z personally was very involved in the redesign of the logo.  So there is a tradition in the league.  Going way back, I remember in the 1980s, Alexander Julien designed the original Charlotte Hornets logo, so there's a long history of having outside partners, whether they be entertainers, designers or others involved in the league, and the league absolutely welcomes it.

Q.  Drake, with all of your friends in the NBA and the relationships you have, do you think that could influence players to come here, and also, do you know if Andrew Wiggins is a Drake fan?
DRAKE:  Well, Andrew Wiggins, I don't want to speak for him as far as being a fan, but he's a good friend of mine.  I've been supporting him for a very long time.  I'm excited to see him play this year.  I think he's going to do phenomenal things.
As far as other players and friends of mine, like I said, my goal is to do anything that these two gentlemen ask me to do, first of all, and add everything I can to this team, which obviously involves us building the strongest team possible.  I would love nothing more than to bring a championship to Toronto.  That would be a dream, I'm sure, for all of us up here.  If I can be a part of it, then yes, I will do everything in my power to do that.

Q.  Does the new rebranding involve different community initiatives?  And having Drake on board, is it kind of like your little spin of how John Candy and Wayne Gretzky got involved with the Argos many years ago?
TIM LEIWEKE:  Well, on the first part, yes, we're spending a lot of time now beginning to think through how we're going to use our 20th anniversary, our new brand and the All‑Star Game to impact the community in a positive way.  One of the great things the NBA does when they move in for the All‑Star Game is the week of the All‑Star Game, the amount of outreach, community support and giving that the players do from the NBA and the league does to the community, millions and millions of dollars are created and benefits back to the community.  But we're going to try to start that now, so we're spending a lot of time talking about some new initiatives, including making it more affordable for families to come to Raptors' games and be a part of the buzz and the excitement that Coach Casey and Masai and the team are creating.
As to where we go on the rest of this as to the way it looks, we're play that by ear here in the next few months as we work with the NBA.
THE MODERATOR:  There you have it, everyone.  NBA All‑Star 2016, the first one ever to be held outside the United States, will take place right here at the ACC in Toronto 2016.  I'd like to thank all of our special guests who will remain on stage for a series of photo ops.  Thank you for joining us here today for this historic announcement, and have a wonderful day, everyone.  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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