Drake, the Canadian-born rap star, is a huge basketball fan. He’s been seen at NBA and WNBA events and references both leagues in various songs. He even has an official job with the Toronto Raptors, his hometown team.
Now the musician is trying to get the WNBA in Canada.
“I need a Toronto team,” Drake posted on an Instagram story on 3rd November, to his 96.7 million followers. He tagged the official WNBA account.
Over the summer, Drake was seen wearing the WNBA’s orange hoodie. In his verse of Travis Scott’s 2018 track “Sicko Mode,” Drake referenced Liz Cabbage. Shortly after he posted a photo with the Las Vegas Aces and Australian Opals centre, calling her the “face of the franchise”.
The NBA entered Canada in 1995, and the Toronto Raptors has surged in both popularity and value in recent seasons. The Raptors won the NBA Championship in 2019 and this year Forbes ranked them as the 10th most valuable franchise in the NBA.
The WNBA has also been growing in viewership and popularity, this season in particular. However, the last time the 12-team league expanded was in 2009, when it added the Atlanta Dream.
This season the league has discussed potential expansion, with commissioner Cathy Engelbert indicating ahead of Game 1 of the 2021 WNBA Finals.
“Expansion is on the horizon,” she told NBC Sport’s Associated Press.
“I suspect by next summer or this time next year, in our 26th season, we’ll be talking about the number of teams and a list of where [new franchises might land],” Engelbert told ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel and Tisha Thompson in October.
Drake pitch isn’t the first one about a team in Canada.
Minnesota Lynx guard Bridget Carleton, who is from Ontario and has played for the Canada national team tweeted that she “officially started manifesting” bringing a professional women’s basketball league to her home country.
Men’s pro basketball continuing to grow in 🇨🇦… I’ve officially started manifesting a Canadian women’s professional basketball league in the near future
Drake even has support from college athletes like University of Conneticut sophomore Aaliyah Edwards, who grew up in Ontario, represented Canada at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, and figures to have a future in the WNBA.
“That would be amazing because I could be home,” said Edwards. “And also just for women’s basketball in Canada because a lot of it is centred around Toronto Raptors, the men’s side.”
“Just to have more awareness and more opportunities for women in Canada to make their mark and establish themselves … I think it would be great for the younger generation and also just for Canadians who are here in the NCAA to be able to say, ‘I’m Canadian and I made it here in the WNBA at home, and you can do it too.”
Also on the professional stage, this past WNBA season there were two players from Canada on Minnesota’s roster: Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton. Players from Canada in the NCAA this season include South Carolina junior Laeticia Amihere from Mississauga, Ontario; University of Rhode Island sophomore (NC State transfer) Rebecca Demeke from Toronto, and Stanford fifth-year senior Alyssa Jerome from Toronto.
Ahead of the Raptors game against the Washington Wizards on 4th November, head coach Nick Nurse was asked about Drake’s comments and added his support to the idea.
“I think it’d be great. I think Toronto should have a team,” Nurse said. “This is a golden age, the number of people playing, the amount of talent pouring out of a lot of cities up there. Boys, girls, men, women, everything. I think women should be represented in Toronto with a WNBA team. I imagine it’d be wildly successful.”
WNBA teams have sold for about $10 million to $15 million, according to publicly published records, reports, and sports bankers. Meanwhile, Drake’s net worth is an estimated $150 million or more. Can’t see any problems here *insert eyes emoji here*.