For the first time in history the annual NBA All-Star Weekend brings the big show to Toronto to highlight some of the city's most prominent ambassadors. Drake? Justin Bieber? The Toronto Raptors?
Try a 74-year-old city councillor dubbed the "6Dad" who found himself squarely in the middle of last year's biggest hip-hop battle that manifested on the frontlines of social media, between Meek Mill and hometown hero Drake. Simply put, Norm Kelly isn't your average politician and really stands up for his city.
The Deputy Mayor of Toronto makes it abundantly clear that he's Team Drake and has no intentions of hiding it. Upon entering his grandoise office centered on the second floor of City Hall, adjacent to a skating ring with the words "T-O-R-O-N-T-O" spelled out, Drake's "Fireworks" blasts from a small radio under his desk. On an upper top shelf behind him sits a white coffee mug with the words "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" plastered across it. This is the headquarters of the man who snagged the "Most Valuable Tweeter Award" last year thanks in large part to his support of the 6 God.
But for Norm, this particular weekend is not all about Drake. Moments following his "Welcome To Tornoto" gala with the NBA (he calls it "Torana"), Norm told REVOLT he's anticipating lots of basketball, tourism and traffic—all resulting in a huge economy boost for the city. We spoke extensively with the candid councillour where he gave a few tips on must-see places in the city for the out-of-towners, the Toronto Raptors and Drake's new album. Bundle up!
On NBA All Star Weekend In Toronto
The very first basketball game was played in Toronto. Whoever made the decision I think the residents of Toronto are grateful for it. They're looking for four days of good fun and excitement. Basketball is catching on very strongly in the home of hockey. Hockey's got a competitor now. So those Leafs better get better.
On The Toronto Raptors' Success
The city has fallen in love with the Raptors, there's no question about it. And part of that affect has been because of DeRozan and Lowry. I've had a chance to meet these guys socially at public events and they are terrific spokespersons, not only for the Raptors but for basketball in general.
Top Places To Visit In Toronto
1. You might want to go to the Royal Interior Museum.
2. If you have a chance, it's on the outskirts, you might want to go to our world class zoo.
3. Go up the CN Yower, one of the tallest buildings in the world and get a chance to look at Toronto.
4. The longest underground pathway, retail pathway in the world lies in the downtown streets of Toronto. Twenty miles of shopping. That underground pathway, especially in weather as cold like this is an incredible experience.
5. If you're dining, the best steakhouse in the world is Barberian's [Steak House]. And if you go there, ask to see his million-dollar wine cellar. Aaron Barberian has collected huge number of the finest wines in the world and he stacks them in the cellar with walls that go up to 30 or 40 feet.
6. Harbour Sixty Steakhouse, right beside Air Canada Center, classy, elegant establishment.
7. If you want Asian fusion in a club atmosphere, Spice Route.
8. If you're looking for the newest restuarant with cutting edge cuisine, Frings, he's in partnerships with leading chefs in Toronto.
Drake's Importance To Toronto
In the Toronto marketplace I think Drake is the personification of contemporary Toronto. He's young, multicultural, he's artistic and he hasn't lost his roots.
His View On Views From The 6
A day doesn't go by when someone doesn't tweet me about Views From The 6.