Rapper/actor/moderately successful cable TV host Drake has an “ambassador” position with the Toronto Raptors, though his role with the organization is still somewhat unclear. He shows up courtside to some games, he’s not quite an investor in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s ownership division, and he’s also not a personnel executive charged with obtaining players and coaches.

That vague bit of branding is why we were all confused when the NBA decided to levy a $25,000 fine on the Raptors after Drake led a Toronto-area crowd in a round of cheers for Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant last week. Drake was cited for tampering charges, and Dan Devine outlined the apparent fineable offense on Monday:

"Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something," the multiplatinum-selling recording artist said. "You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen."

Now, word comes from Globe and Mail columnist Cathal Kelly, who relays the idea that the NBA would have passed on handing down the fine had the just disassociated itself with Drake:

This has risen beyond the level of a spat. It’s an executive knife fight. Raptors officials would not comment on the Drake versus NBA situation. They are plainly loath to make their secret war public.

They also refused to address a key detail – that the NBA offered to drop the tampering fine if the team agreed to strip Drake of his title. The Raptors apparently refused.

Kelly has solid MLSE ties, which makes this whole thing seem like a bit of nonsense. The fine was not an insignificant amount, unless you’re the Toronto Raptors – a major market team that sees no problem with employing a cadre of executives as it fills up its money-making arena even in lean years. To believe that the NBA would demand an employee’s head in return for declining to fine a team a hundredth of what James Johnson will make this season seems very un-NBA’ish.

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