Drake coached Team Canada to a 74-63 victory over comedian Kevin Hart’s Team USA at the first-ever NBA All-Star Celebrity Game held outside of of the U.S. at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum on Friday night (Feb. 12).
The Toronto rapper beat the actor-comedian in the best-dressed department too, coaching the all-Canadian team in a sharp navy blazer, crisp white shirt, grey tie and pants, and dress shoes. Hart wore grey track pants and hoodie, black tee and red runners.
The game, which drew a decent crowd to the 7,780-capacity arena, was a blast and began with some expected mock rivalry when Hart refused to shake Drake’s hand and vowing to “crush Canada.” Calling himself a “polite Canadian,” Drake finally got a fist bump out of him.
Team Canada comprised Butler; Drew and Jonathan Scott from HGTV’s Property Brothers; tennis player Milos Raonic; actor/singer Kris Wu, who was greeted with screams and hand-made signs from fans; NBA TV analyst and former player Rick Fox; actor Stephan James, who plays sprinter Jesse Owens in the new film Race; basketball player Tammy Sutton-Brown of the Indiana Fever; actor Tom Cavanagh of TV series The Flash; and NBA legend Tracy McGrady accepting this one-time Canadian citizenship as a former Toronto Raptor.
Assisting Drake were two-time NBA MVP’s Steve Nash, MLB bat-tossing Toronto Blue Jays star José Bautista and NBA All-Star and Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan.
Team USA members were actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis, who appears in Race; America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon; actor Anthony Anderson of ABC’s Black-ish; Bryshere “Yazz” Gray of Fox’s Empire; NBA All-Star and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups; WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donnie; Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry; NBA legend Muggsy Bogues; and O’Shea Jackson Jr., who starred in the film Straight Outta Compton.
Aiding coach Hart were NBA All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Andre Drummond; and WNBA legend Becky Hammon.
The U.S. held the lead for much of the first quarter, as Drake — clipboard in hand — made changes to the lineup, sending out players from the bench to try to turn the tide. Arcade Fire’s Win Butler tied it up to 14 (he was later named MVP of the game after scoring 15 points) all with less than two minutes to go and soon Canada went from the bottom to the top, ending the period 20-15.
Canada remained in the lead in the second period, and Raonic made an impressive last seconds two-handed dunk, putting the score at 37-28.
During halftime, Drake signed shirts for little kids, while Hart disappeared backstage. He re-emerged to the sound of the Rocky theme song, now wearing the USA Team jersey and shorts, ready to get himself dirty on the court. Drake laughed.
But it didn’t help. Drake has Toronto karma on his side and in the final quarter Canada held steady. So confident was the rapper that in the final minute he sent Ellen Degeneres Show correspondent Demarjay Smith — the confident kid trainer who challenged Usain Bolt to a race — out on the court in Cavanaugh’s jersey until a foul was blown on that stunt.
Just before the game kick-off, Mayor John Tory presented Drake with the key to the city. On Sunday night, Drake — who is the global ambassador for the Raptors — will introduce the 2016 NBA All-Stars. The game will be seen in 215 countries and heard in 49 languages.