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Not So Nice Now: Toronto Raptors Show Some Northern Pride In (Relatively) Gritty New Ad

Just in time for the playoffs, Canada's only NBA team embraces its outsider status.

There are 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, but despite being in the league for 20 years and living in one of North America's five largest TV markets, the Toronto Raptors might just be the least well known of them all.

It's in Canada. It's a hockey town. They don't play a lot of marquee nationally televised games in the U.S. Oh, and for the better part of its existence, the team's been pretty bad at the whole basketball thing. But starting with the arrival of Tim Leiweke last year, who went from running the L.A. Lakers' parent company to become president and CEO of Raptors parent Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the woe-is-me cloud hanging over the team started to lift. He brought hometown hero Drake on board to help with branding and enlisted award-winning ad shop Sid Lee.

The idea was to rebrand the team in time for its 20th anniversary season in 2015, but given the Raptors unexpected underdog run this year right into the playoffs, Leiweke decided to unveil a sneak peek at the team's new attitude, courtesy of this new spot by Sid Lee.

It shows a different side to Toronto, more streetball than slapshots. There's a bit of swagger perhaps due a city that's set to serve up two first overall picks in the NBA draft. It's also a perfect time to sell this team north of the border, seeing as only one Canadian NHL team has made the playoffs (Montreal), there will be plenty of people looking for a distraction from their hockey-related misery.

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