Q&A: Raptors guard Norman Powell’s playing the piano

Toronto Raptors forward Norman Powell (24) dunks past Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Norman Powell has been inserted in the Toronto Raptors‘ starting lineup in 2017, but that’s not the only thing that has changed for the shooting guard.

Powell has long been a music lover but that has been held secret to fans and his teammates, alike. His off-court interests are hidden no more, however, as Powell hooked up with GoDaddy to release the single “No Problem” and his “Powell on the Piano” website to house his music.

Right now, the single is on Spotify and Apple Music, but I was curious about Powell have on his own streaming playlists.

I chatted with Powell on an off-day about his personal love for music and what he loves to listen to when he’s getting ready to play:

SN: Powell on the Piano. I didn’t know you had a musical bone in you. How did this come about?

NP: Well I’ve always liked music, always had a passion for it — especially the piano growing up. When I partnered with GoDaddy about putting this together and creating a music video and a song it was easy for me to do.

SN: You’re seen as an intense guy, a hard guy. Where did the love for the keys come from?

NP: Growing up my dad, when I was younger, taught me just a little bit of the piano, so I got a feel for it. It was like my get away from everything. Not a lot of people knew I played the piano because I kept it to myself. So I thought this is a way to show a different side of me and have a bit of fun.

SN: Did your teammates know?

NP: No, nobody knew.

SN: What was the reaction in the locker room?

NP: They were making fun of me for it. They thought it was really funny — especially when the music video came out. They definitely had a good time with that.

SN: Who got on you the worst?

NP: I’d say Fred [VanVleet] and Delon [Wright] did. Every single time they saw a post or it was even talked about they literally killed me for like 15 minutes.

SN: Do any of your teammates have any musical stylings? Will we see any features on your website with any teammates?

NP: I might get C.J. [Miles] to do something. I heard he’s good at the piano as well. And I might get Delon to do some backup vocals because his friend along with my friend are both rappers and aspiring artists, so he has a little music background to him to.

SN: So we might see a Part 2? A little GoDaddy remix?

NP: Maybe. Maybe in the future.

SN: There’s always a love between athletes and music and vice versa. The Indiana Pacers’ Victor Oladipo sings, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard raps. Taking yourself out of it, who is the best athlete artist out there?

NP: I think Damian Lillard has it right now. Both of his albums are super dope. “Confirmed” and “Dame D.O.L.L.A” are definitely hits. He takes the music more seriously than I do. You can definitely see it shows. The partnership with Lil Wayne that he has. He is one of the top athlete artists right now.

SN: When you’re guarding him on the perimeter you’re not saying “I spit more bars then you do?”

NP: No chance, no chance.

SN: This is the debate in hip-hop. You’re top five dead or alive are who?

NP: C’mon man. That’s so tough.

SN: Choose wisely.

NP: Tupac, Nas, old Lil Wayne, Jay-Z …

SN: One more spot.

NP: Biggie.

SN: So no Kanye?

NP: Nah, no Kanye.

SN: No Drake? No global ambassador? No Andre 3000?

NP: I mean they’re definitely in that realm. I think the top five is on people’s opinion. Tomorrow you could ask me and I’ll switch my top five up. As of right now, today those are my top five.

If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.

SN: Jay-Z is playing in the ACC soon. When a big artist comes through the city do you guys as a team go and check it out?

NP: Yeah, I think the team does a great job of asking us and hooking us up with tickets to the concerts. If it works out in our schedule and everything aligns I’ll definitely be at the concert.

SN: So you guys have a plug? You don’t even have to pay for it?

NP: We have to pay man what are you trying to say? Shhh … we have a plug man, we have a plug.

SN: Who takes care of the music in the locker room. Who decides?

NP: Honestly, we don’t have music playing. Everyone has their own headphones and is in their own little space. Every once in a while Kyle [Lowry] will put on his loud speaker and play a mix of old music. Old Biggie, Pac, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne. He’ll do that but most of the times guys are in their own little space with their headphones.

SN: What do you listen to to get ready for a game?

NP: A mix of J. Cole, Drake, Wale, Jay-Z, Meek Mill — even though people don’t like Meek Mill anymore. I have a bunch of different artists on my playlist.

SN: In game there’s music playing in the arenas with people are dancing in their seat. Can you guys even hear it? If you hear a song you like does it give you energy like it does me in the gym in my condo or are you so zoned in it doesn’t matter?

NP: On the court you don’t really hear the music, but during timeouts or when you’re on the bench watching the game you definitely hear what’s playing. Sometimes it’s a good song and you’re definitely listening to it, but in game, when you’re on the court, I literally don’t hear anything.

SN: Jonas Valanciunas had the GoDaddy partnership with the Itty-Bitty Ballers that went viral last season. Do you know have the trump card of being the best spokesperson in the locker room?

NP: I’m definitely the best spokesperson over JV. For sure. We’ve definitely talked about it and I always tell him that mine is better than his.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.