There’s been a lot of noise over the past 48 hours about the courtside presence of Toronto’s number on celebrity fan, Drake. We here at Raptors HQ have managed to stay above the fray, but that doesn’t mean we don’t approve of the situation — or find it innately comical. To hear Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, his team once up 2-0 and in firm control of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Raptors, bemoan Drake’s presence in Toronto is to watch a man openly play with fire. And frankly, you have to laugh.
Currently in Milwaukee and the amount of talk from fans here surrounding @Drake is absurd. Does anyone remember Spike Lee??? Jack Nicholson???— Kate Beirness (@KateBeirness) May 23, 2019
In a sense, the thinking is sound: Budenholzer likely assumes that Drake’s antics can and will be used against the Raptors when they get to Milwaukee. Surely once there, the Bucks’ home crowd will jeer Toronto’s squad and use any slippage in their play as fuel for the flames of their post-season desire. “Oh you like front-running?,” Giannis and his city will wax rhetorically. “Well why not try running with this!” Enter massive dunk, applause, the Raptors falling apart, etc., etc.
The problem with this idea is, well, Drake is and remains a huge boon to the Raptors’ confidence — and the city of Toronto’s whole new-found identity as a winner. For many years, back in the days when you’d get laughed out of a bar for even suggesting to put the Raptors game on TV, being a Toronto basketball fan was like being in a strange cult. We were not winners, we were losers — or worse: afterthoughts. Then Drake became super fan number one — like, yes, Spike Lee and Jack Nicholson before him — and suddenly a ticket to a Raptors game was cool. Then, bestill my heart, the team got good, then great, and now here we are, on the cusp of something truly momentous.
Yes, the odds are still in Milwaukee’s favour. We covered that here in Mitch Orsatti’s Game 5 preview. But the Raptors are suddenly playing like the veteran team — calm, cool, and collected — a squad that knows itself and knows what it wants to do. It’s a unique feeling for Toronto, and it’s a place the franchise has never been in before. Does Drake help with all that? Laughing, and dancing, and playing air guitar on the sidelines? In my humble opinion: he certainly doesn’t hurt.
Now, let’s watch Game 5.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 8:30pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Milwaukee - Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Toronto - OG Anunoby (appendectomy - out), Patrick McCaw (personal - out)
Milwaukee - Donte DiVincenzo (heel - out), Pau Gasol (foot - out)