When the Toronto Raptors hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the 2018-19 NBA Finals, it wasn’t only a victory for them, it was a victory for superstar rapper Drake. Drake, who is employed by the Raptors as an ambassador, has long been the butt of jokes regarding his presence at sporting events leading to failure for whoever he was rooting for. As such, the sight of his team winning it all must have been a relief to him. The rapper spared no expense to show the team his gratitude for taking this weight off of his shoulders.
The Raptors’ run to the title
The Toronto Raptors’ title run may always be viewed as a little bit peculiar. A perfect conflation of events both in and out of their control made the team an albatross when it comes to NBA champions. After LeBron James dominated the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade, his move out west left a void that hadn’t been seen since his first stint in Cleveland.
Enter the Toronto Raptors. Although their earlier teams may very well have made the Finals with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry instead of Kawhi Leonard, Leonard’s addition made them instant contenders in the new-look East. With teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks on the rise, Leonard provided the type of skill and leadership the Raptors may have otherwise lacked had he not moved north.
Leonard proved too much for the East to handle. Even in seven-game series such as the one they played against the 76ers when Leonard got the ball at the end of game 7, it seemed like a given that he would send the younger 76ers packing. He was a one-time Finals MVP, defensive player of the year, and growing offensive superstar who cannot be contained at the top of his game.
While the Warriors’ health both leading up to the NBA Finals and throughout it will always be a part of the narrative, the Raptors showed up just like the Warriors did in 2015 and took advantage of a hobbled opponent as a way to win their ring. Everyone from Leonard, Lowry, and Pascal Siakam to the role players like Fred Van Vleet, Serge Ibaka, and newly-acquired Marc Gasol played their part in making their opponents pay, and the result was the first Raptors’ title in NBA history.
For all of that, the team earned rewards in more ways than one.
The Raptors’ rings are a sight to behold
The Raptors’ championship rings were truly spectacular in their presentation. Designed to mark the historic event for both Toronto and Canada, opulence was key in the design. The ring has “north” written on top of it, with a representation of the Toronto skyline shining behind it thanks to some of the 640 diamonds on the ring. The side commemorates the 2019 championship featuring the NBA logo, the Raptors logo, and a banner that has every player’s name and number around it.
The 640 diamonds are the most of any Championship ring in professional sports history. They also bear the largest single diamond of any team in history, and have the most karat weight as well. The rings, however, are a result of a sports tradition. Drake went above and beyond with his gift to the players.
Drake gave the team another present for winning the title
The largest championship rings in history weren’t enough for Drake, who was a vocal presence on the sidelines of nearly every home game during the Raptors’ run. Drake helped design a series of bomber jackets that look like something out of a biker movie. The back states “The Best in the World,” and “2019 Champions” with a picture of a raptor clutching the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Every player who was on the team is listed on the right sleeve of the jacket above the Raptors’ logo. The Canadian flag appears on the left one. The front has Drake’s OVO logo, securing his place into the narrative of the Raptors’ title run. Few celebrity fans get the attention of Drake, and he paid the team back with the jackets that combine their accomplishments and his brand.