RJ Barrett details Toronto's cultural renaissance: 'It's not normal'

Yahoo Sports Canada
New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) is ready for the weight of expectations as the future of Canadian basketball. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) is ready for the weight of expectations as the future of Canadian basketball. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett has been billed as the future of Canadian basketball and though his professional journey takes him to the world’s biggest media market, the 19-year-old still puts on for Toronto.

Barrett was profiled by GQ ahead of the upcoming NBA season and spoke about Toronto’s growing cultural impact, both in music and in sports.

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“It’s not normal, especially in the short time span. We have PartyNextDoor, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and those guys. Justin Bieber doesn’t count. He doesn’t talk about Canada anymore. If you didn’t know, you’d think he was from L.A,” Barrett said.

Barrett has often - lazily - been compared to Andrew Wiggins, for their same prodigious billing through high school and college. Asked if he feels pressure after some top Canadian picks failed to live up to their draft billing, Barrett bristled at the suggestion.

“Look how many American guys get drafted every year and never pan out to be anything. We only have a limited amount of Canadians—everyone can’t be The Next. There’s only one LeBron, and there’s only one Kobe. Someone will figure it out.”

Barrett will be squaring off against his hometown Toronto Raptors several times as a divisional rival, but he’s still a Toronto man through and through, asking Drake for a name-drop on one of his next songs.

“My main man Drizzy. Shout me out, please.”

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