Rapper Drake (center) is the Toronto Raptors' global ambassador. (Ron Turenne/Getty Images)
The Toronto Raptors are weighing the possibility of a re-branding effort that would involve a black-and-gold color scheme inspired by platinum-selling rapper Drake, according to multiple reports.
The Toronto Star reports that the new color scheme, which is utilized by Drake's OVO Sound record label, would go into effect for the 2015-16 season if it is selected. Toronto and the Air Canada Centre will host the 2016 All-Star Weekend.
You know how they are working on the “re-branding” of everything to do with the [Raptors], right? Maybe new colours, maybe a new logo, maybe all kinds of things different for the 2015-16 season. Well, how about this: Black and gold. Now, I’m not suggesting it’s a done deal and a lot of different people and companies are coming up with a lot of different looks and styles but I was told on the weekend that black and gold is definitely something being considered. ... This is by no means a done deal and there is still time for them to tinker and change and do whatever they have in this grandiose [plan] to re-invent the organization.
The Toronto Sun reports that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) president Tim Leiweke said multiple looks are currently under consideration by the Raptors, who are the only NBA franchise currently located in Canada.
When asked if the black and gold scheme is the current leading contender, Leiweke told the Sun: “We are looking at a few different ideas.”
One of them would be a blue and white look, to tie in with the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays. Multiple sources said they have seen mockups featuring the black and gold design.
The organization has gone through a series of logos and jersey designs over the years, with red and purple generally serving as the dominant colors. The team currently wears white jerseys with red trim at home, red jerseys with black trim on the road, and black jerseys with red trim when they need an alternate look. The organization's primary logo currently features a red dinosaur dribbling a basketball while wearing a white jersey; the alternate logo sports a white claw and basketball design inside a red circle. Both can be seen below via SportsLogos.net.
The Raptors' current primary logo (left) and alternate logo (right). (SportsLogos.net)
Shortly after Leiweke was hired, the longtime sports executive made it clear that the Raptors' branding would be reevaluated. Back in June, Leiweke said the organization would consider the possibility of a nickname change, but he told reporters in September that the "Raptors" moniker would remain. Leiweke introduced Drake as the Raptors' "global ambassador" earlier this fall and promised a "new day" and a "new age" for the organization, which would be influenced by the Toronto-born rapper's vision and ideas.
"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," Leiweke said. "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. ... [Raptors GM] Masai [Ujiri] and I sat down and talked to [Drake] 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."
In the meantime, the Raptors are hosting a "Drake Night" for their Jan. 11 game against the Nets. The promotional artwork for the game includes the Raptors' logo and the OVO Sound logo in black and gold.
"I’m really out here with the people, I’m in touch with what they want to see," Drake said in September. "I really just want excitement for this team. I want us to be one of the biggest teams in the league.”
The Raptors are hosting a "Drake Night" in January. (Raptors.com)
The New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats both recently underwent re-branding efforts. The Hornets became the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this year, adopting a blue/red/yellow color scheme, and the Bobcats are set to become the Charlotte Hornets, with a teal and purple look, at the conclusion of this season.