If that was a toned-down version of the Toronto Raptors’ foremost fan, what happens when he decides to disregard the NBA’s advice? As it was, Drake went full Drake in Thursday’s Game 1 of the Finals.
At least the hip-hop superstar didn’t rub Raptors Coach Nick Nurse’s shoulders again, as he did during the Eastern Conference finals, causing some consternation. However, Thursday found Drake invading the personal space of Stephen Curry, when he picked something out of the hair of the Golden State Warriors guard.
In fairness, Curry, whose Warriors are trying to deny the Raptors their first NBA title, came over to Drake to have a chat during a timeout. A similar but decidedly more contentious scene played out as the game ended, when Drake briefly got into it with Golden State’s Draymond Green.
Following Toronto’s 118-109 Game 1 win, the rapper/entrepreneur took to social media to troll Curry and Green.
Before the game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a news conference in Toronto at which he claimed that “we ended up in a good place” following “conversations directly with Drake and his manager.”
Silver brought up Drake’s midgame massage of Nurse last week, saying that while “we certainly appreciate his superfan status” and the fact that “he’s beloved in the community of Toronto,” league officials “don’t want fans, friend or foe, contacting an NBA coach during a game."
“I think that even as Nick Nurse later said, ‘I didn’t even realize it was Drake or hardly was aware that I was being touched,’ I think those can lead to dangerous situations,” Silver said. “You’re in the middle of coaching a game and you’re completely focused; you obviously don’t want somebody who is not on your team touching you.”
On Wednesday, Silver acknowledged that Drake has a quasi-official promotional role with the Raptors, but he told Yahoo Sports, “Obviously, there’s some lines that even ambassadors shouldn’t cross.”
Not long after Silver’s remarks Thursday, Drake turned up at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, and his apparel made it clear that he was of a mind to get under Golden State’s skin. He wore an autographed Raptors jersey of none other than former Toronto guard Dell Curry, the father of a certain Warriors sharpshooter.
As they have been for his previous playoff games, both of Stephen Curry’s parents were in attendance Thursday, and they were well-positioned to take note of Drake’s “Who’s your daddy?” move.
Drake was also wearing a wristband over his left elbow. Conveniently enough, that managed to hide a pair of tattoos on his arm that pay homage to the jersey numbers of Curry and Warriors teammate Kevin Durant.
Before the Finals began, Golden State’s Klay Thompson said he would avoid listening to any of Drake’s “soft R&B songs,” because he was “in kill mode right now, trying to get these four games.” Thompson added, “I’ll skip ‘Hotline Bling.’ ”
That jab was certainly not about to go unanswered in Game 1. After Thompson got hit with a technical foul in the fourth quarter, he walked past Drake, who was only too happy to break out a “Hotline Bling” dance.
At a postgame news conference, Green was asked about his “scuffle” with Drake. “You got a question about basketball?” he testily replied.
Green went on to assert that he wouldn’t define his interaction with Drake as a “scuffle,” because there was no physical contact. “We talked,” he said. “We barked a little bit.”
Golden State, looking to win a fourth championship in five years, may want to work some more on its bite after coming out fairly flat Thursday. In that sense, Drake could be useful to the team, if the Warriors use his antics to inspire, rather than irritate, them in Sunday’s Game 2.
In the meantime, Drake can feel like he won Round 1. As for the NBA, well … it tried.