Kevin Durant is still two years away from becoming a free agent, but the tampering for the services of the reigning NBA MVP has already begun.
The rapper Drake, who is employed by the Raptors as the team's "global ambassador," went out of his way to thank Durant for coming to his fifth annual OVO Fest in Toronto:
“You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us," Drake says in a clip that has been widely circulated on YouTube. "I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.”
Here's the video of the comments, with some explicit language at the end:
Because Drake has an official role with the Raptors, the NBA fined the organization $25,000 for tampering. That's the same amount the NBA reportedly fined the New York Knicks after President Phil Jackson discussed the possibility of hiring Derek Fisher as head coach. These fines are slaps on the wrist compared to the $100,000 fine the league levied against Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for discussing LeBron James before he officially became a free agent.
Drake's hospitality at OVO Fest appears to have made a good impression on Durant:
I love the 6. Thanks @drake, nikko, chubs, future, P Reign and the rest of the crew. Y'all showed so much love. Back in the 405!!!
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) August 5, 2014
While it hasn't always been positive, the publicity that Drake has generated for the Raptors is certainly worth the $25,000 fine. The Toronto native is been at the center of the team's image revival, and with his extensive network of connections, he figures to be an important part of the Raptors' future.
Durant, meanwhile, has left open the possibility that he would follow in LeBron James' footsteps and play for his hometown team, the Washington Wizards.