“We Are Proud and Passionate”: Drake Responds to Criticism of His Courtside Antics as the Raptors Are Poised to Make History
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
For the casual Toronto basketball fan who delights in Raptors memes more than the action on the court itself, Drake’s recent sideline antics likely add another layer of entertainment.
In his most recent appearance at Game 4 at home, the Toronto rapper seemed to kick his troll game into overdrive, taunting the Milwaukee Bucks players after missed free throws and during timeouts as they passed him and at one point massaging Toronto head coach Nick Nurse’s shoulders, all while operating well beyond the sideline that fans are traditionally relegated to.
And while some will argue that it’s all in good fun, others feel his sideline or often on-court behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated.
Not surprisingly, Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Mike Budenholzer wasn’t impressed with Drake after Game 4.
“There’s certainly no place for fans — or whatever Drake is for the Raptors — on court,” Budenholzer said Wednesday during a conference call, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “There’s boundaries and lines for a reason.”
After a Game 5 victory in Milwaukee, Drake spoke to media amongst a bustling crowd in Maple Leaf Square — otherwise known as Jurassic Park during Raptor playoff games — where he watched the game on stage joined by thousands of fans.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody says,” Drake said, clearly excited by the crucial Raptors victory. “They can say it’s disrespectful. Everybody’s within the rules. Everybody’s doing their thing. All we are is proud and passionate,” he added before yelling, “I love Toronto, I love this team, and we’re going to the NBA finals. Let’s go!”
“Whatever Drake is for the Raptors” is clear and unclear at the same time. Back in 2013, the Raptors, attempting to harness his star power, named him global ambassador of the Raptors. From Drake night home games to sponsorships from Drake’s OVO clothing line, the Raptors have certainly benefited from the partnership.
The NBA, however, has stepped in to make sure the relationship doesn’t cross any church/state lines on a couple of occasions. When Drake urged Golden State Warrior star Kevin Durant to sign with Toronto at a concert the superstar was attending, the NBA fined him for tampering. And when his court-side taunting nearly caused a brouhaha between Cleveland Cavaliers centre Kendrick Perkins and Drake’s body guards last year, the NBA and the Raptors issued the rapper a warning.
But warnings and fines aside, Drake’s “official position” with the team primarily serves a promotional function that extends to the rapper as well.
That reciprocal relationship has many Raptor faithful questioning the authenticity of Drake’s fandom. Some find the timing of Drake’s over-the-top antics at Tuesday night’s game curious as well.
That same day, it was announced that Drake’s OVO clothing line would collaborate with Dsquared2, an international fashion house, founded by identical twins and fellow Canadians Dean and Dan Caten.
Drake, who usually dresses like he’s headed home from the gym, was clad from head to toe in Dsquared2’s soon-to-be-released collection.
Whether Drake’s disregard for boundaries of both court and body was a transparent marketing ploy for camera time to promote a line of clothing or a product of enthusiastic fandom, his antics aren’t likely a welcome sight for diehard Raps fans.
Those who are well-versed in NBA history know how a famous fan can motivate and bring out the best in an opponent.
The feud between Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller and director and diehard Knick fan Spike Lee is likely one of the most famous example of fan influence in sports history. After jawing with Miller from his court-side seat during Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Lee’s Knicks had a six-point lead with 8.9 seconds remaining in the game. But perhaps with a little extra motivation, Miller reeled off 8 points in what little time remained, winning the game in dramatic fashion. After the game Miller offered one final jab, wrapping his hands around his own throat as he stared his nemesis down on the sideline, a reference to Lee’s claim that the Pacers had choked in a previous playoff series against the Knicks.
And who could forget when Chris Bosh’s girlfriend and cousin decided to taunt LeBron James after the Raptors built a healthy lead going into the fourth quarter. After exchanging words with the pair, LeBron would rack up 24 points in the fourth quarter alone. As the final buzzer sounded, he rolled handed the game ball to the two hecklers confirming, “It’s your fault.”
In a post-game interview, LeBron doubled down on his claim.
“They the reason the Raptors lost tonight cause they ticked me off a little bit,” LeBron said after the game.
So far, the Bucks players haven’t had much of a rebuttal for Drake, opting to ignore the rappers poking, prodding and massaging. But, if he really is a super fan — and in light of historic precedents — he may want to turn his troll volume down to an acceptable level.