With Game 3 set to tipoff Friday night in Washington, the Wizards-Raptors series will move to Verizon Center, a.k.a. Wale country.
Both franchises hired their hometown rappers -- Drake from Toronto and Wale from Washington -- to help remake the image and feel of their teams. And while the rest of the basketball world breaks down match-ups on the floor, let's take a look at the biggest one sitting courtside.
Wale: Wale repped the DMV hard at this year's NBA All-Star Weekend. While performing at the All-Star fashion show with Flo Rida, he wore a Redskins chain and a leather jacket with Maryland and DC flag patches on the lapel. He also played in the 2014 All-Star Celebrity Game.
Wale has history with the Raptors, too. In 2013, he confronted Toronto announcer Matt Delvin, who said he's never heard of Wale and called him a "local rapper" and "not Drake" during a broadcast of a Wizards-Raptors game at the Verizon Center. A part-miffed, part-bemused Wale made his way to their announcers table with Gheorghe Mureșan to "introduce himself" during halftime.
Drake: The Canadian has a long history of NBA fandom. Drake has been involved with All-Star game festivities for years, including helping Terrance Ross in the 2014 dunk contest.
There's a more embarrassing side to his NBA involvement, though. Just check out the meme with photos of Drake cozying up to various stars, depicting him as the whole league's girlfriend. His greatest hits include getting turned away from the Heat locker room after Miami won the title in 2013, shopping for a house in Cleveland after LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers, and most notably to Wizards fans, holding Paul Pierce's arm on an inbounds play this past February.
Wale: As the Creative Liaison for the Wizards, Wale has helped revamp the in-game elements, music and even team merchandise. His song "Ambition" has become a staple of player introductions. Perhaps most importantly, Wale regularly sits courtside at home games to show his support. In January, the rapper revealed that he has consulted Kanye West about potentially redesigning Washington's uniforms.
Drake: Drake, Global Ambassador for the Raptors, played a big role in the franchise's recent rebranding efforts. He contributed to a redesigned logo and the "We the North" slogan. The OVO rapper also makes frequent cameos at the Air Canada Centre, but hasn't always been an asset for Toronto. During a Toronto concert in 2014, Drake suggested that Kevin Durant should join the Raptors in 2016. He made his comments to the crowd, which included the reigning MVP, at the end of the show. The NBA hit Toronto with a $25,000 tampering fine a week later. Whoops.
Wale: The DC-born-and-based rapper gives his city shoutouts on almost every song, including 2009 breakout hit, "Chillin." He also counts the region's biggest star athletes among his personal friends. Wale joined RGIII, DeAngelo Hall and Kevin Durant to lobby Desean Jackson to join the Redskins last offseason.
Drake: Though Drizzy reps the Queen City plenty in his songs, including "5 a.m. in Toronto," he's made just as many references to Houston. His 2013 album Nothing Was the Same paid homage to H-Town six different times. He name dropped Toronto native Andrew Wiggins in "Draft Day," but his rhymes reference NBA players regularly without any apparent preference for Raptors or Canadians. "Steph Curry with the shot," anyone?
Wale: In terms of top hits and record sales, Wale can't touch Drake. That's not a knock on Washington's favorite rapper -- who infuses his music with local go-go sounds and tributes to the DMV -- only a concession that he's put out comparatively fewer mainstream hits in his four studio albums (Attention Deficit, Ambition, The Gifted and Album About Nothing). The Gifted and the Album About Nothing reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hop-Hop and Hot Rap charts, but no Wale single has ever cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. "Lotus Flower Bomb" featuring Miguel did reach the top spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Fans will have to decide whether Wale beats Drake in quality if not quantity. He has won one BET Award and one BET Hip Hop Award, though.
Drake: Drake's Thank Me Later, Take Care, Nothing Was the Same and If You're Reading This It's Too Late all reached No. 1 album on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hop-Hop, and Hot Rap charts. He's also had seven singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. That's not to mention 12 singles certified Platinum or higher. Perhaps his biggest advantage on Wale would be one Grammy, eight BET Awards, and 10 BET Hip Hop Awards.
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