×

Raptors’ Win Enraptures Top Canadian Music Exec Chris Taylor

It’s not just a Drake thing — the entire Canadian music business is feeling gleeful over Toronto’s NBA championship. Among the celebrants is Toronto-bred Chris Taylor, the global president of music at Entertainment One, the global music and filmed company based in the land of Raptors. He was at the team’s very first game in 1995 at SkyDome, but since moving to Los Angeles in September, he’s had to enjoy the excitement taking place in Toronto from afar.

This was the first time Toronto made the NBA finals in the team’s 24-year history, and the first time a franchise outside America ever won the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, beating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in game 6.

Between 1.5-2 million people are expected to line the streets for the victory parade today as the team moves through the downtown core atop an open-air double decker bus, ending with a massive rally at Nathan Phillips Square. Toronto Mayor John Tory has encouraged everyone to come out.

Taylor, who was named one of Variety‘s International Music Leaders last year, is giving his Toronto staff time off to attend. “At eOne, we have a section of the day where people are going to be heading out to go watch the parade,” Taylor says. “I’ll watch the highlights somewhere.”

For game 6 Thursday night, before taking in a show by Canada’s Operators, Taylor gathered in downtown L.A. at Plan Check Kitchen with about a dozen eOne staffers, including his boss Darren Throop and basketball game virgin Ted May, the U.K.’s managing director and head of international.

The rest were “half Canadian, half from down here,” Taylor says, “but I think everybody wanted Toronto to win. It’s funny — in L.A. you’re either a Lakers fan or maybe a Clippers fan, but you are generally not a Golden State fan. It’s a bit of a rivalry. Even in the bar we were at, it was mostly people rooting for the Raptors.”

Taylor, a one-time lawyer who sold his practice in 2016 when he accepted the eOne position, used to represent Drake — the Raptors’ global ambassador, as if that needs clarifying. “I love Drake. I’m happy for him. He’s a genuine fan. Always has been,” he says.

As for Taylor, who grew up in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit, he was a big Pistons fans, long before Canada had an NBA team in his lifetime (Toronto Huskies was the first in 1946-47 for the Basketball Association of America, the forerunner to the NBA).

When the Raptors launched, he bought tickets to SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) to watch them play the now-defunct, then-first-year expansion team Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis Grizzlies)  at the immense domed stadium in downtown Toronto, where the team initially had to play. They later moved to Scotiabank Arena, formerly the Air Canada Centre.

“At the last minute, we decided to go because it was the first game and we ended up getting tickets almost up by the roof, so far away,” Taylor recalls. “It was pretty crazy those first few seasons when they were playing there, because the court would be sitting in one corner of SkyDome with the seating around it. Some of the seats were so far away from the court you could barely even see. You needed binoculars to see the players.”

Radio magnate Allan Slaight of Slaight Communications was one of the businessmen who helped bring an NBA franchise to Toronto. Gary Slaight, a businessman and music industry vet in his own right, is his son and a good friend of Taylor’s who has generously treated him to his courtside seats over the years.

“Once you sit there you don’t want to sit anywhere else,” says Taylor. “It’s incredible. You get a sense of the speed of the game, the size of the guys, adding: “It can be a little scary sometimes, people jumping into the stands for loose balls and things like that.”

What did he think of the final game in Oakland at Oracle Arena? Was he yelling at the TV? Close to a heart attack, maybe, after they were up three games to one, and then lost the fifth and had another close game that easily could have gone to a game 7?

“It was a little anticlimactic,” he says. “It would have been fun if it ended with a final shot or a final miss or defensive play or something like that. It kind of fizzled out. But it doesn’t take away the long-term impact of the win. We’ve got a whole year now where we’re are the NBA champions. Now. we just need to figure out a way to re-sign Kawhi [Leonard, MVP] and try to continue the legacy.”

More Music

  • Woodstock co-producer and co-founder, Michael Lang,

    Woodstock 50 Organizers Are Optimistic but Vague Before Town Meeting

    Woodstock organizers Michael Lang and Richard Peck were optimistic but vague when speaking with reporters at a hastily announced open house for the festival held in Vernon, New York on Monday night. The town’s Vernon Downs is the most recent proposed site for the trouble festival, which has been dogged by financial and organizational problems [...]

  • And released by the Chicago Police

    R. Kelly, Female Companions Expected to Appear in Court Today

    R. Kelly is expected to appear in federal court in Chicago today for an arraignment on new charges filed against him last week, all of them stemming from longstanding claims of sexual misconduct or abuse, according to multiple news reports. Two women who have lived with him for the past few years, Joycelyn Savage and [...]

  • What Is Equity, Roc Nation’s Indie

    What Is Equity, Roc Nation’s Indie Distribution Company?

    When news broke earlier this year that Jaz-O, Jay-Z’s longtime friend-turned-foe-turned-friend-again from Marcy Projects, had signed with Roc Nation, most reports glossed over exactly which company the rapper had signed with. His deal, for his Kingz Kounty Media Group, is actually with Equity Distribution, the independent distribution arm of the Roc Nation family of companies, [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Gary Clark Jr.Gary Clark Jr.in concert

    Gary Clark Jr. Brings the Austin Flame to a Hollywood Heat-Wave BBQ (Watch)

    When you have Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, rocker Michael Des Barres and a flock of dancing young women all rushing the stage at a private event, that’s a good sign you’ve got it going on. Even L.A.’s biggest heat wave of the year so far couldn’t keep a mixed music industry audience away from the [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    U.S. Consumers to Spend $26 Billion on Music, Video Subscriptions This Year

    U.S. consumers are expected to spend a combined $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, according to new estimates from the Consumer Technology Association. That’s up from $20.4 billion in 2018, and nearly twice the amount spent on such services in 2017. Propelled by the continued success of Apple Music and Spotify, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content