‘Courtside’ Drake’s greatest hits
A compilation of courtside antics by the NBA’s most recognizable superfan
(The following two paragraphs update an earlier post.) As we predicted, Drake has managed to make himself an ancillary storyline in an intriguing NBA postseason. First, Drizzy — whose forthcoming Scorpion is one of the most anticipated albums of the year — trolled John Wall, Kelly Oubre and the Washington Wizards as the Raptors ended the series in six games.
But the self-proclaimed 6 God might well have bitten off more than he can rap in longtime friend/even longer Raptors bully LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto’s own Aubrey Drake Graham had a front-row seat as the James Gang has sprinted to a 2-0 lead — making Thursday night perhaps Drake’s last time courtside in his hometown squad until the fall. On top of that, Drake and Kendrick (Perkins … not Lamar) exchanged words after Game 1. Just another day in Drake’s courtside life. Let’s flash back to the record-shattering rapper’s most … illuminating moments. — Justin Tinsley
Since signing up to become the Raptors’ official global ambassador in 2013, the obsessively dedicated Drizzy has been a laugh-inducing, meme-generating fixture at Toronto home games and abroad.Before the struggling Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-84, in Game 3 of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, the smart money had LeBron James and his seemingly unstoppable Cavaliers outfit well on their way to going Turbo from the 1984 film Breakin’ and busting out the brooms for an anticlimactic sweep.
But whether it’s boldly injecting himself into a game-changing play or his questionable choice of wardrobe, Aubrey Drake Graham is not just sitting courtside. What we witness is a performer — “Courtside” Drake. This is full-blown, Meek Mill-squashing, #DoinTooMuch Drake, who has joined the likes of Spike Lee (New York Knicks), Jay Z (Brooklyn Nets), Jack Nicholson (Los Angeles Lakers) and Billy Crystal (Los Angeles Clippers) as his team’s trademark superfan. After the Raptors’ improbable Game 3 win, Drake trolled LeBron James with an Instagram post. The big takeaway, however, was the caption: “Flying home for game 4.” With that said, The Undefeated presents Courtside Drake’s Greatest Hits.
“Lint Rollers On Deck”
You could say this is when it all started. This is metaDrake. As a 2014 playoff game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors was beginning to heat up at Air Canada Centre, the rapper was caught in the background obsessively lint-rolling his black jeans. Of course, the billion-dollar question surrounding the oddball moment of bourgie personal grooming was asked collectively by millions of confused observers: Who the hell brings a lint roller to a basketball game? Drake, that’s who. The barrage of memes inevitably ensued.
“Let ‘Em Fall”
The fierce, Twitter-fueled battle between the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers in the first round of this year’s playoffs reached epic levels when Drake broke into savage mode. It was the fourth quarter and the 6 God’s squad was on its way to mounting a furious comeback win. Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey turned the ball over during a crucial stretch, stumbling out of bounds as he fell on Drake. There would be no helping hand from Drizzy — only some hilarious, obnoxious and furious clapping in Stuckey’s ear. Classy.
“I wasn’t paying attention to him,” claimed Chicago Bulls swingman Justin Holiday. “I was listening to the ref.” Sure you were. It was late March and there’s Drake standing behind Holiday, seemingly disrupting the inbounds play at the end of a close game. Holiday was called for a five-second violation. Drake celebrated, reacting like he was the reason for the change of possession. Toronto still lost the game, 106-103.
“Dance With Me, Mommy” (November 26, 2015)
When it’s “Drake Night,” everything is on the table. That includes sitting courtside with your mother and breaking out a few trademark moves in front of Raptors fans. In November 2015, Toronto wanted to send a shoutout to its most famous booster on his tribute weekend, so Air Canada’s house DJ played the emo provocateur’s ubiquitous hit “Hotline Bling” (No. 2 on Billboard charts at the time). Drake immediately flashed a “let me stunt for y’all” smile and danced in his seat. His mom, Sandi Graham, and the Raptors fans ate it up. No chill.
The transcript from Drake’s in-game interview with the Raptors’ broadcasting team could double for any chest-beating lyric on his latest album, Views. “A lot of wins,” he boasted, referring to Toronto’s 10-game win streak and the fact that Champagne Papi was on quite a win streak himself. He goes on a “feeling myself” spree. He claimed his party game at Toronto’s upcoming All-Star Weekend would look like the Raptors win streak, offers center Bismack Biyombo a new nickname (“Big Business out here!”) and mixes up NBA commissioner Adam Silver with former NBA owner and pariah Donald Sterling (“Sterling, that’s my guy.”), all while sporting a red OVO sweatshirt. This guy.
“My Team Is In The Building” (January 11, 2014)
When Drake was asked to announce the starting lineup for his Raptors in early 2014, he embraced the assignment like the over-the-top fan that he is. Clad in black Raptors gear, the prince of the city introduced Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas as that dude who “loves to spend his free time at Scarborough Town Centre,” clowned All-Star Kyle Lowry (“They used to tell him he looks like Chris Tucker — but he doesn’t.”) and described unamused Raptors head coach Dwane Casey as “dashingly handsome.” It’s obvious the man missed his true calling.
“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
Drake’s new-school, doing-too-much antics don’t mix well with the no-nonsense, veteran, old-school intensity of dudes like Los Angeles Clipper Paul Pierce. So, it wasn’t surprising that when Drake approached The Truth during the final play of a game pitting the Raptors against the Washington Wizards in February 2015 — the former Boston Celtics stalwart wanted no part of the goofball encounter.
A precursor to the Justin Holiday incident, with the Raptors leading 95-93, Drake was about to begin pestering Pierce, who pushed him off with a look that would be booked for murder in most states. Drake and his boy broke out in laughter. Somewhere, Pierce is still not smiling.
“Form Like Voltron” (December 23, 2015)
It was, perhaps, the most arbitrary bromance in courtside basketball history. As usual, the stars were out during a regular-season Los Angeles Lakers game. But then we got this random video featuring Drake, and actors Denzel Washington (who didn’t know how to “run the phone”) and Tyrese.
“I’m rolling with T, I’m rolling with Drake,” said an amped Washington. Drake, draping his arm around Washington, just giggles. Tyrese, smiling ear to ear, pulls off the capper: “We got the same dentist, too.”
“Brooklyn Keeps On Taking It”
Before becoming an omnipresent Toronto sports fixture, Drake was still getting used to his freshly minted role as the Raptors’ official ambassador. To be real, it was a thankless position. Beyond the high-flying Vince Carter years, Toronto had not made a playoff appearance since 2008. So an extended season for the Canadian-based franchise was reason enough to celebrate. But in true Drake fashion, the cocky young gunner took it a step further, taking a not-so-subtle swipe at legendary rapper Jay Z during the 2014 playoff showdown between his Raptors and Hov’s Brooklyn Nets.
“This is the people’s team out here tonight, you know what I mean — Toronto Raptors,” he said to his squad’s broadcasting team. “Jay Z’s somewhere eating a fondue plate.”
“On My Pat Riley”
No one really takes celebrity basketball games all that seriously. Unless you are Drake, that is. Kicking off the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, Drizzy showed up to the game as the head coach of Team Canada wearing a splashy, navy-blue suit jacket, white shirt, gray tie, crisp gray slacks, immaculate dress shoes — and a pocket square, just because.
Compared with his Team USA coaching counterpart (comedian and All-Star Weekend mascot Kevin Hart) — who rocked gray track pants, a hoodie, a black T-shirt and red sneakers — Drake came off like he was channeling the late Chuck Daly. With clipboard in hand (the dude was actually designing plays for his team that included former Raptor Tracy McGrady and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler), coach Graham led his squad to a 74-63 win over Team USA.
“Center of Attention”
The backward leather baseball cap, the nondescript sweatshirt, the self-aware, punchable face — it’s just Drake being Drake. Indeed, when the self-proclaimed “light-skinned Keith Sweat” takes a selfie, he turns the “hate me now” theatrics meter up to 1,000. He’s just living the dream, folks.