Updated June 15, 2019 - 10:51 am
Drake just can’t stop rappin’ about the Raptors.
The hip-hop superstar and Toronto native was the unofficial emcee for the team’s NBA championship party at XS Nightclub late Friday night and early Saturday morning. The Wynn Las Vegas nightspot was slammed with revelers, who were shoulder-to-shoulder inside the club and also filled Encore Beach Club in the moonlight.
And for a night, the club was dubbed Jurassic Park. A giant looming sign over Encore Beach Club flaunted that title.
Drake summoned the entire Raptors squad, which was provided a VIP quarantine section just off the DJ booth and main stage. “Las Vegas! Give it up for your MVP!” Drake said, calling out Kawhi Leonard. “Whooooo, here he is!”
Dressed in a white T-shirt, black “NBA Champions” ball cap and blue sweat pants, Leonard raised his arms to a rim-rattling roar. He then grabbed the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy — conveniently placed near the turntables — and held it aloft.
The crowd shouted, “MVP! MVP! MVP!” and “Let’s go Raptors!”
“Las Vegas, let’s have cheers to this incredible team,” said Drake, in an exclusive headlining residency with Wynn Nightlife at XS. “I want to give cheers to every one of my brothers!”
Raptor standouts Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (at 7-feet-1 inches tall, a dominant presence even among his teammates) were all in full flourish. The team was delivered cases of Drake’s own Mod champagne, which was launched during his appearance at the club in January.
Earlier in the day, as a way to honor his favorite team’s victory over two-time defending champion Golden State, Drake released “Money in the Grave” featuring Rick Ross and “Omertà.” The dual tunes are the first major releases from the top-selling artist in 2019.
The evening rocked into the early morning hours with club headliners The Chainsmokers, who repeatedly congratulated the NBA champs (between explosive bursts from the club’s CO2 “Party Cannons.”) Deep into the set, they dedicated a classic sports tune to the Raptors’ first championship.
The song was the club mix of “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky.” And like that film’s namesake, the Raptors went the distance in its Strip coronation.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter,@JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.