Drake woke up shortly before his 1 p.m. PST conference call Friday afternoon to talk his hosting gig at next week’s ESPY Awards (airing Wednesday, July 16 on ESPN at 9 p.m. EST), so he was still processing the news of his friend LeBron James’ decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I can’t wait to get off the phone and call him myself and just tell him how proud I am because he’s been a friend of mine for a long time,” Drake told reporters. “For the last week and a half I’ve probably been bothering LeBron as much as the press.”
With James’ essay for Sports Illustrated announcing his decision still swirling across the internet, Drake said he was already starting to “look into some real estate in Cleveland” to better support James and three other recently traded vets of his hometown team the Toronto Raptors. Not that he’s going to start rocking wine and gold just yet. “Despite what everyone on the internet thinks, I do not team jump. In the past I’ve always supported the player, not the institution, unless it’s the Kentucky Wild Cats or Toronto Raptors. Those are two teams I’ll never stray from.”
While Drake and ESPYs’ executive producers Connor Schell and Maura Mandt could not confirm whether James himself would be appearing at the awards on Wednesday — or, for that matter, Drake’s recent WNBA obsession Skylar Diggins. But you can expect a mix of comedy sketches, topical monlogues, and Drake trotting out well-rehearsed impressions of some of the year’s best-known athletes. “Out goal for the night is for the ESPYs to completely take over the internet and for everything we do to go viral,” Drake said. “We’ve been working hard to make sure it lasts past the night, which I’m sure it will.”
Drake is also the first musical host of the ESPYs since Justin Timberlake in 2008, and teased some performance elements for this year’s telecast. “We definitely want to incorporate music, but I’m not there to put on a strictly music-based show,” he said. “We definitely have some incredible pre-tapes, and I think it’s gonna be a great night. I want to deliver a great hosting job.”
But one thing’s for certain for the frequent court-side presence at NBA games: Drake will be bringing his lint roller. “I’ll probably have it somewhere. I might bring it out onstage,” he said. “I think I’ll be lint-free that night, though. I’ll have a stylist with me.”
After the ESPYs, Drake is gearing up for a busy August and September. On August 3 he’ll kick off the fifth annual OVO Fest in Toronto, where he’ll co-headline alongside Outkast (and sure-to-be dozens of surprise guests.) Later that week, he’ll head out on a 31-city tour with Lil Wayne, sponsored by video-game publisher Capcom (makers of “Street Fighter”) and set to be formatted like a battle each night. “A lot of people still don’t know it’s a real thing, but it’s real and it’s going to be very competitive,” he said.