The NBA levied a $25,000 fine on the Toronto Raptors for “tampering” with the free agency process when the team’s “goodwill ambassador” mentioned player Kevin Durant at a recent rap concert. But the organization also said it would drop the fine if the Raptors dumped this unpaid cheerleader.
Toronto has allowed rap musician Drake to operate as the team’s official goodwill ambassador–an unpaid position–and during a recent Toronto concert the rapper made mention that 2016 free agent Kevin Durant was in the audience and led the crowd in a chant to welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder small forward. Drake said he was showing Durant how much fans would appreciate him if he joined the Raptors when he becomes a free agent.
The NBA, however, was not amused by Drake’s cheerleading and declared that his concert antic was “tampering” in the free agency process. Because Drake is an official ambassador for the team, the governing body felt that his efforts amounted to a violation of the rules and so levied the $25,000 fine.
But there was a caveat to the fine. If the team cut ties with Drake, the fine would be rescinded.
Toronto sports writer Cathal Kelly though, says the fine is absurd. Kelly says that it is Drake’s job as a fan to recruit good players to his favorite team and wonders why this is a problem. Kelly feels it is even less of a violation of any rule since Drake is not an actual employee of the team and is essentially just speaking as a fan.
But a fine such as this isn’t an outlier. Back in June, Knicks coach Phil Jackson was fined the same amount for openly talking about Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, an incident that the NBA also called a violation of the tampering rules. Jackson ultimately hired Fisher to coach the Knicks.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com