Drake, October’s Very Own (OVO) and the Toronto Raptors go hand in hand. Between helping pitch Kawhi to celebrating the ‘chip during the team’s parade, Drake x OVO x Raptors have a multi-year history. Drake and OVO are a large part of the Toronto Raptors brand association. Ask a casual fan in Germany what they think of when they hear “Toronto Raptors” and I’m sure Drake’s name comes up. Between the Toronto Raptors OVO logo, OVO training centre, Drake OVO Night shirts, and OVO Raptors playoff shirts, the relationship has a rich history. This article details it.
Scotiabank Arena, previously called the Air Canada Centre (ACC), sits 19,800 people for basketball games. The Toronto Raptors have come close to, met and even somehow exceeded that capacity since the 2014-15 season. But the previous 5 seasons saw several vacant seats.
Because of these low numbers and dwindling popularity in the Raptors brand, the team looked to the Billboard music charts for some help. There, they noticed a Canadian born and raised music artist named Drake was growing in popularity around the globe.
All of what you’re about to read comes from experience. I’ve been an OVO x Raptors x Drake collab supporter since they started working together. And I’ve taken part in all the events discussed in this piece. In fact, here’s a summary of a few personal points:
1. Raptors season seat holder since 2013
2. Attended every OVO Festival since 2012
3. Attended at least one of Drake’s show from every North American tour since 2012
4. A proud owner of most OVO x Raptors x Drake paraphernalia
2013-14 Season: Raptors, OVO, Drake Collab
September 30, 2013: Global Ambassador Announcement
The Toronto Raptors won the bid to host NBA All-Star festivities. During the press conference, the Drake, OVO and Raptors connection officially began. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri announced that Drake is the ‘Global Ambassador’ for the team. Press conference below:
Shortly after, rumours swirled. Fans of the rapper and the Raptors wanted to know if Drake’s role is a paid position. Drake answered that question via his single called 0 to 100/The Catch Up.
Yeah, I’m on some Raptors-pay-my-bills sh*t
All up on TV, I thought it’d make me richer
Wasn’t payin’ me enough, I needed somethin’ quicker
You can also listen to the track and get all OVO Sound artists for free with a subscription to Apple Music:
January 8, 2014: Drake’s Big Announcement
The first annual instalment of “Drake Night” is implemented. It was announced via Drake’s Instagram account.
What is Drake Night?
Drake Night is an annual event that the Raptors use as a theme night throughout the season; Some people like to call it Raptors OVO Night. Attending fans receive an item co-branded by the Raptors and OVO. Plus, sometimes a performance featuring an OVO Sound artist will occur. At the very least, their music played through the loudspeakers. The OVO Sound roster includes the following artists:
- Roy Woods
- Majid Jordan
- Baka Not Nice
- DJ Future The Prince
- OB O’Brien
January 11, 2014: Inaugural Drake Night
Drake Night happened three days later. It was on Saturday, January 11 at the ACC versus the Brooklyn Nets. The event included a special half time performance from OVO’s DJ Future The Prince.
Each fan received a special OVO Drake Night x Toronto Raptors shirt. Here’s a visual:
Raptors x OVO 2014 Playoff Merchandise
Fans attending the Raptors’ first playoff home game received a special gift.
An exclusive OVO, Raptors, Drake t-shirt! The OVO-Raptors branded shirt features the ‘Northern Uprising’ slogan that the Toronto Raptors most recently used during the 2018-2019 season.
The 2014 Playoff campaign also saw the debut of the Raptors x OVO Northern Uprising Hoodie. The slogan, The Red Hot Revival, is etched on the back of the sweater. This hoodie was not made available for public sale. A limited quantity was made and given exclusively to Drake’s friends and family.
The Infamous Raptors x OVO Lint Roller
During Game 2 of the series vs the Brooklyn Nets, Drake was caught on camera sitting courtside using a lint roller on his pants.
The video went viral! Countless memes were created and shared across social media platforms.
This clip led to Drake getting in on the action with this post on his Instagram page (Posted April 23, 2014):
During Game 5, dreams became a reality. With some help from Bounce, OVO released the exclusive Raptors x OVO Lint Roller.
Fans sitting in the ‘Drake Zone’, sections 113 & 114 in the Air Canada Centre were able to claim this item, which to this day remains one of the most exclusive OVO collectables of all time. The Drake Zone made its debut during the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
2014-15 Season: Raptors, OVO, Drake Collab
December 17, 2014: Drake Night
Drake Night returned on Wednesday December 17, 2014 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Drake announced the starters for the Raptors in only a way that Drake could; check out the video below:
A special halftime show featuring music from Drake and the OVO crew. It was performed and curated by the official DJ of the Toronto Raptors, 4 Korners. As well, every ticket holder in attendance received a brand new OVO Drake Night shirt.
January 2015: Drake Zone Returns
The Drake Zone returned in 2015 offering all Drake Zone ticket holders an exclusive Drake Zone Raptors OVO t-shirt. The Drake Zone was a fixture for ticket sales for all remaining home games that season.
February 13, 2015: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
The title says it. On this day, Drake dropped his newest album at the time titled ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’.
The 12th track on the album is titled ‘6 Man’. This song pays homage to former Raptors guard Lou Williams, who later went on to win the 2014-2015 6th Man of the Year award for his crucial role coming off the bench for the Raptors that season. Lou Williams is considered a top sixth man in NBA history.
You can also listen to the track and get all OVO Sound artists for free with a subscription to Apple Music:
February 2015: NBA All-Star Weekend in Brooklyn, New York
During the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend in Brooklyn, OVO hosted a special party to celebrate the 2016 All-Star Weekend which would happen in Toronto the following season. The event used as a so-called ‘Passing of the Torch’ event. Partygoers in attendance received an exclusive Raptors OVO Toronto All-Star 2016 long-sleeve shirt:
March 27, 2015: Raptors x OVO x Mitchell & Ness Collection – Spring Release
The first release of the collaboration collection from the Toronto Raptors, OVO and Mitchell & Ness released on March 27, 2015. This collection exclusively dropped at Real Sports Apparel located at Gate 1 of the Air Canada Centre. The collection featured an assortment of t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies and hats full of Raptors and OVO branding. This was the first time the Raptor logo in Black & Gold (OVO Colours) was available to the general public for purchase.
Raptors x OVO Playoff Merchandise 2015
Like the previous season, the 1st game in the Playoffs brought along a brand new Raptors OVO Playoff shirt. This shirt was available to all ticket holders who attended Game 1 at the Air Canada Centre. See the shirt below:
2015-16 Season: Raptors OVO Collab
August 3, 2015: 6IXTH Annual OVO Fest
During the 6ixth Annual OVO Fest at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Drake appeared on stage and revealed the long-awaited Raptors OVO Jersey.
October 8, 2015: Raptors OVO Jersey Reveal
Turns out, the jersey that Drake was wearing at the 6ixth Annual OVO Fest was the real jersey that the Raptors would wear throughout the season. The Toronto Raptors announced the Raptors OVO ‘Alternate’ Jersey, two months after Drake revealed it on stage. The Raptors wore the jersey multiple times throughout the season and playoffs.
In honour of the jersey’s release, Drake also received an exclusive custom made suit jacket with the Raptor jersey stitched into the inside of the suit jacket.
November 13, 2015: Raptors x OVO x Mitchell & Ness Collection – Fall Release
The second collaboration between the Toronto Raptors, OVO and Mitchell & Ness released on November 13, 2015. The collection dropped at Real Sports Apparel and later dropped at the OVO Flagship location in Toronto. The collection featured jackets, track suits, hoodies, t-shirts, hat and winter apparel.
November 25, 2015: Drake Night
Drake Night returned for the third time on November 25, 2015 vs the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was released via a promo on the Toronto Raptors and OVO’s Instagram.
As with every Drake Night thus far, all ticket holders in attendance received an exclusive OVO Drake Night Shirt, as well as a Raptors OVO Sweatband.
Once again, Drake also announced the Raptors starting line ups for Drake Night. Check out the video below.
January 2016: Drake Zone Returns
The Drake Zone returned once again in the second half of the 2015-2016 NBA Season. Multiple Raptors x OVO branded items were given out to ticket holders in the Drake Zone. An example is this Raptors x OVO x Drake Zone Mini Ball Keychain:
January 22, 2016: Raptors x OVO x Mitchell & Ness Collection – Spring Release
And then came the third and final collaboration between the Toronto Raptors, OVO and Mitchell & Ness. It was released on January 22, 2016, and for sale at Real Sports and later sold at the OVO Flagship location in Toronto. This drop titled the ‘Spring Release’ saw new shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats and a duffle bag released as part of the collection. Check out the collection below:
February 14, 2016: MLSE opens the Sher Club designed by Drake and Ferris Rafauli on the 2nd floor of the Air Canada Centre.
This private club requires a $7,000 yearly membership fee. MLSE decides who is eligible to purchase a membership. The club is luxurious and decked in the OVO colour scheme. Food is included, but not drinks which is crazy.
March 30, 2016: SLAM Magazine Issue 198
Following the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, SLAM Magazine featured Drake and Toronto Raptors All-Stars Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan on the 198th issue which released on March 30, 2016.
April 5, 2016: Raptors x OVO x Spalding Basketball Release
On April 5 2016, The Toronto Raptors, OVO and Spalding released a special collaboration basketball. Only a small number of them were sold at Real Sports Apparel at a retail price of $49.99 CDN.
2016-17 Season: Raptors OVO Collab
November 16, 2016 – Drake Night
The fourth instalment of Drake Night returned on November 16, 2016 vs the Golden State Warriors. All ticket holders in attendance received an exclusive Raptors OVO Drake Night shirt. Check out the shirt below:
January 2017: Drake Zone Returns Again
The Drake Zone, once again, reappeared in the second half of the 2016-2017 NBA season. A list of merchandise can be seen in the photo below.
If fans attended games with tickets in the Drake Zone between January 5 and 24, they received a Raptors, OVO, Drake pennant. But if they came to games between January 27 and February 15, they got a Raptors, OVO, Drake foam finger. And if they were in the Drake Zone between February 24 and March 19, they received a drawstring bag. Finally, fans in the Drake Zone attending Raptors home games between March 21 and April 7 received an OVO branded freezer mug.
2017-18 Season for Raptors, OVO, Drake Collab
January 12, 2018: Raptors OVO Edition Jersey Revealed
The Toronto Raptors introduced the brand new Raptors OVO Edition Jersey via their social media platforms on January 12; OVO also shared it on their platforms as well.
The jersey featured the OVO Black & Gold colour scheme and the word ‘North’ is in place of any mention of Toronto or the Raptors. Instead, this Jersey was made to showcase Canada.
The jersey was exclusively available at Real Sports Apparel. This jersey was discontinued following the 2017-18 NBA season.
And of course, heres the custom made Raptors OVO suit jacket with the OVO Edition Jersey stitched inside . Check out the crazy suit jacket below:
January 17, 2018: Welcome Toronto Press Conference
Drake and Raptors President Masai Ujiri hosted a Press Conference announcing the details of a new partnership between the Raptors and OVO titled ‘Welcome Toronto’. You can watch the Press Conference below:
Here are the details of the Press Conference:
1. The Raptors will host six Welcome Toronto Games a season, over the next three seasons.
2. Announcement of the Raptors OVO Court, designed by OVO.
3. Drake and the Raptors will donate one million dollars to refurbish twelve courts in the City of Toronto.
4. Development of Youth Programs through MLSE
5. Support of Canada Basketball with a two million dollar donation
January 26, 2018: First Welcome Toronto Night
The first of six Welcome Toronto nights occurred vs the Utah Jazz. This was the first time the Raptors wore the OVO Edition Jersey. This was also the debut of the Welcome Toronto Court, which can be seen below. The court will be used on every Welcome Toronto night for the next three seasons.
All fans who attended the inaugural Welcome Toronto night received an exclusive Welcome Toronto Mini Basketball, check out the image below:
Here is the video that appeared prior to the start of the game on the Video-board at the Air Canada Centre introducing Welcome Toronto night:
February 6, 2018: Drake Zone returns
The Drake Zone returned once again vs the Boston Celtics. A promotional calendar was available to see what items would be given away depending on the game. A variety of previously released Raptors x OVO x Mitchell & Ness hats and toques were used as Drake Zone giveaways. Here is the promotional calendar for the Drake Zone Raptors games below:
March 9, 2018: Drake Night
Drake Night occurred for the 5th consecutive season during a matchup vs the Houston Rockets. This Raptors OVO Drake Night shirt was much different than previous Drake Night shirts. Instead of the shirt focusing solely on the Raptors, the logos of all the major Toronto sports franchises were clearly visible on the front of the shirt. This shirt really embodied the diversity of sports in Toronto. The shirt can be seen below:
For the first time in Drake Night history, Drake stepped onto the court and gave a small speech to the crowd at the Air Canada Centre. The video can be view below.
2018-19 Season for Raptors, OVO, Drake Collab
November 8, 2018: Raptors OVO City Edition Jersey Revealed
The new Raptors OVO ‘City Edition’ Jersey was revealed via social media posts by the Toronto Raptors and OVO. The intro video for the jersey can be seen below:
The official photo of the jersey was released alongside the video.
The City Edition Jersey is the exact same as the previous OVO Edition Jersey, just instead of the jersey being Black, it is White. Too bad the Toronto skyline isn’t on the actual jersey like it is in the video.
The jersey was released on November 8 and was available at Real Sports Apparel as well as OVO store locations in Toronto and their website.
March 14, 2019: Welcome Toronto Surprise Announcement – OVO Athletics Centre
The Raptors shared a video on their social media platforms introducing the OVO Athletic Centre as the Practice Facility for the Toronto Raptors. The building was formerly known as the BioSteel Centre. The video and official photo can be seen below:
The announcement of the OVO Athletic Centre also came with the announcement that OVO will be sponsoring the Toronto Raptors Practice Jersey. The OVO Owl can be clearly seen on the jersey.
March 14, 2019: Drake Night/Raptors OVO Spring ’19 Collection
The 6th consecutive Drake Night vs the Los Angeles Lakers. This OVO Drake Night was the first time it was announced and occurred on the same day. Rather than ticket holders receiving a Drake Night shirt, everyone in attendance received a Raptors OVO Rally Towel.
Fans had the opportunity to purchase extremely limited Raptors OVO apparel. This apparel was only available at Real Sports Apparel in the Scotiabank Arena. This collection brought back old Drake Night designs and put them on OVO branded sweaters and t-shirts. The Northern Uprising hoodie was the only article of clothing to be completely embroidered, every other piece was screen printed. The collection can be viewed below:
May 21, 2019: Raptors OVO Surprise Jurassic Park Drop
Lucky fans who decided to watch Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs the Milwaukee Bucks inside Jurassic Park outside received an extremely limited Raptors OVO Shirt; Jurassic Park is a viewing area located outside of Scotiabank Arena.
The shirt has a photo of the historic moment when Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard was watching his game-winning shot go in during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals vs the Philadelphia 76ers. The photo is in Black & White and is visible across the chest of the shirt. The Raptors logo and the OVO Owl appear on the back. Check out the extremely limited piece below:
If you want to see more photos of Kawhi’s game winning basket (similar to the one etched on this Drake, Raptors, OVO long-sleeve tee), check out our interview with the guy who photographed the best shot ??.
Before the Game 4 festivities, Raptors President Masai Ujiri presented Drake with another custom suit jacket. This time, the Raptors OVO City Edition jersey was stitched into the jacket. A 1.2 carat diamond pin featuring the OVO Owl is featured on the outside of the jacket. The jacket was estimated at $769,000.
May 30, 2019: NBA Finals Game 1 OVO Shirt
For Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs the Golden State Warriors, OVO created a special shirt that was given to all fans in attendance. This shirt featured every logo that the Raptors have used in their 24-year history on the front. Also, the back featured the Raptors logo and the OVO Owl logo.
June 2, 2019: Jordan 4 ‘Final Fours’ OVO Shoe Shock Drop
A shock (surprise) drop of the Nike Air Jordan ‘Final Fours’ dropped on the morning of June 2 2019. The shoe pays homage to the Toronto Raptors featuring their old red, purple and black colour scheme. It shoe features a signature from Drake on the tongue of the shoe.
The shoe was released at 5 OVO store locations between Toronto, Vancouver and New York. It was also available online on OVO’s Web Store. The retail price for the shoes was $265 CDN.
June 10, 2019: OVO Sound artist Baka Not Nice performs at Game 5 of the NBA Finals
During a TV Timeout in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, OVO Sound recording artist Baka Not Nice performed his hit song ‘Live Up To My Name’ to the crowd at Scotiabank Arena. I was able to get an exclusive video of the performance from inside the arena:
June 24, 2019: First look at the OVO & Canada Basketball Partnership
Canada Basketball announced Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse would be named the new Head Coach of the Men’s Canadian National team program. The announcement was made at the OVO Athletic Centre. The backsplash was the first time we have seen the OVO and Canada Basketball logo’s together. If you recall from the Welcome Toronto Press Conference in 2018, OVO donated two million dollars to Canada Basketball. Check out the photo below of the two logos at the Nick Nurse Press Conference.
The Canada Basketball logo looks awesome in the OVO Black & Gold!
June 28, 2019: Raptors OVO Championship Merchandise Official Release
Right after the Raptors won the Championship on June 13, 2019, Drake was seen wearing exclusive Raptors OVO Championship merchandise. The merchandise featured the OVO Owl as well as a new Championship logo that featured the Raptors logo and the number 6.
The Raptors OVO Championship merchandise was officially released on June 28, 2019, exclusively at Real Sports Apparel. The release was met with huge lineups and quickly sold out. Take a look at this video from the Raptors OVO Championship merchandise drop:
And now, take a look at the Raptors OVO Championship merchandise:
Predictions for the Future of Raptors, OVO and Drake Collab
1. OVO will sponsor the Raptors jersey following the expiration of the Sun Life agreement. The OVO Owl will be featured.
Update – July 26, 2019
Rapper Rick Ross released a track titled Gold Roses featuring Drake. During Drake’s verse on the track, he speaks about the future of the Raptors x OVO partnership with this line:
Tanenbaum know the logo on the jersey, is getting purchased
You can listen to the track here with a subscription to Apple Music:
The line refers to partial MLSE owner Larry Tanenbaum knowing that potentially the OVO logo will be seen on Raptors jerseys in the future. I guess we will found out soon if I was right!
2. OVO will acquire an ownership stake in the Raptors
3. Youth programs will be branded under OVO Athletics x Raptors
4. OVO Jerseys will be considered an Away jersey for the Raptors rather than an alternate
Just like many of you are STILL on #KawhiWatch, we’ll be on #DrakeOVORaptors watch forever.
November 20, 2019: Raptors OVO Practice Jerseys Released
During the Toronto Raptors 2019-20 season following their Championship run, the Toronto Raptors released their OVO branded Practice Jersey to the public. They were released and sold at Real Sports Apparel in-store and also online as well as OVO retail locations/web store. The practice jerseys sold out within hours of them being released.
November 22, 2019: Toronto Raptors City Edition Jerseys Announced
The Toronto Raptors changed up the design for the City Jerseys this season. Changing it from a white and gold accented jersey to a black and gold accented jersey. The Raptors debuted these City Jerseys at home against the New York Knicks on November 27, 2019. The jerseys were also released on Real Sports Apparel in-store and online for the public.