The Raptors are up 1-0 on the Warriors in the NBA Finals and look to have things somewhat under control (until Kevin Durant returns). A loaded statement? Perhaps, but we’ve got other pressing issues to which we must attend. Drake-related pressing issues.
Now, much has been made so far of this Raptors playoff run, and with good reason. The team has been awesome, and along the way Toronto has gotten to see some spine-tingling moments that we’ll remember for years to come. We’ve reflected on what Kawhi Leonard has meant to this Raptors team so far, and we know how much a Finals appearance means to the likes of Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol. But now we must unpack this Drake vs. the Warriors situation. We must.
Given his celebrity, Drake’s continued presence on the sideline in Toronto has been hard to ignore. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was even asked about it (he’s not a fan of Drake touching Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse, which I get). The media, of which I am a tenuous part, has been working overtime to make this a Thing — and with good reason. It’s a fun distraction, and not something seen every day in the NBA Finals. Who knows if the Raptors will make it here again, so we in Toronto may as well go all out. And if that means watching Drake to air guitar windmills after a glorious Raptors run, who are we to complain, really?
That said, in Toronto’s previous series against the Bucks, there was no obvious way to get this to be a big deal until Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer, the clod, made mention of it, sending a million keyboards clacking. “There’s certainly no place for fans — or whatever Drake is for the raptors — on the court,” said Budenholzer, stumbling right into the massive bear trap set gently down in front of him. “There’s boundaries and lines for a reason.” We all had a good time laughing at Budenholzer after this. And we loved it even more as the Raptors balled up the Bucks, beat them four straight times, and dunked them into vacation.
The Warriors, though, pose a different problem. Huge star power, yes, but also a compromised Drake. Much hay has already been made over the fact that Toronto’s favourite son has had to wear an armband to cover up the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant tattoos he has on his person. And while it’s obvious Drake is a huge Raptors fan, having grown up in Toronto and watched the team become a success like the rest of us — he’s also been known to, uh, conveniently cheer for other teams at the top of their powers. Like, oh no, the Golden State Warriors.
So far, through one game of the Finals, Drake has been mentioned quite a bit. And there have been various bits of footage, snippets of quotes, and questions in the air, about what his presence means to the Warriors — if it means anything at all.
Does Golden State notice Drake out there on the court? Do they care? Is anyone on the team actually mad at his antics? Let’s find out.
The big Kahuna of the Warriors is — and essentially always has been — a fan and friend of Drake. Yes, the two make sure to beef on camera for the sake of their respective overlapping fanbases, but obviously they’re pals. Need more proof? Here’s a video of Drake sitting adorably cross-legged on Curry’s couch, enjoying some food.
(Get you a man who looks at you like Drake looks at Steph here, etc., etc.)
Much was made before Game 1 of Drake’s arrival in a Dell Curry jersey — which hilariously occurred just as Silver was addressing the “controversy.” The implication of course was that Drake had indeed become Steph’s father, was on hand to “son” him, as it were. But what was more surprising about this turn of events was that Steph hadn’t actually given Drake the jersey in the first place.
On the one hand, you’ve got to applaud Drake’s work ethic on this one. On the other, these two are just having a good time on the biggest stage they can find. More power to them.
Verdict: Definitely not mad, actually laughing (at us)
When asked about whether he’ll still listen to Drake during the Finals or skip his songs on a playlist, the Warriors’ Klay Thompson had this to say:
“If it’s a bad song, I’ll skip it. But if it’s one of his hits, I’ll play it. I’ve been a Drake fan since I was in high school. He’s a great artist. Do I like him as a Raptor fan? No. But I like him as a musician. He’s extremely talented. But I will definitely skip the song if I don’t like it, and if it’s one of his soft R&B songs, I’m going to skip it because I’m in kill mode right now, you know? I’m trying to get these four games. So I’ll skip ‘Hotline Bling’ and anything along that line.”
I think we’re underrating how chill Klay is at this point.
Verdict: Not mad, absolutely too chill to even be laughing
If there was a flashpoint to anticipate in this series, most of the money would bet on Draymond Green being involved. His reputation precedes him at this point, even if it is unfair, and even if he’s playing the best basketball of his life right now. People don’t forget things like trying to hit LeBron James in the junk in the 2016 NBA Finals. Sorry, Dray.
In truth, Green comes down on both sides of this situation. After Game 1 he was asked about the “scuffle” he apparently got into with Drake after the game. Green was curt in his response, saying they “barked a little bit,” but it was definitely not a scuffle. Then, when asked about Drake’s current role on the sidelines, Green was complimentary, noting that the Canadian rapper has “worked his ass off to be who he is.” If there’s anyone that appreciates hard work and the space a person can carve out for themselves as a result of said work, it’s Draymond.
Then again, Green is the only one who took to the streets recently to try and troll Drake. (Point to Draymond for saying Toronto correctly, by the way.)
Dray really walking around Toronto in a Drake hoodie— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2019
(via @Money23Green) pic.twitter.com/UR2X86lYcB
Verdict: Definitely not mad, actually laughing (please believe him!)
Kerr comes from a rich background of actual trials and tribulations. For years he was the guy known only for getting punched in the face by his teammate Michael Jordan. If you think something like Drake dancing on the sidelines is going to bother him, I suggest you think again.
Peep the date stamp on the following video clip. Kerr was out in front of the whole thing days before the Finals even started.
Steve Kerr is ready for Drake, he already made a call to him pic.twitter.com/hA67KuTG2b— ESPN (@espn) May 27, 2019
Bottomline: Kerr knows who he is — a corny-as-hell dad — and knows it’s best to just not get involved. What a pro.
Verdict: Actually laughing (at his dad joke)
Of all the things Kevin Durant is likely stewing about right now, not being able to get camera time with Drake is probably near the top of his list. Due to his injured status, Durant has not gotten any microphone time either — which almost definitely grinds his gears too. For all his complaints about getting too much attention, it is well-documented that KD, well... he enjoys the spotlight.
Durant has worked instead as a structuring absence in these Finals. Everyone knows that if he was healthy and playing, this whole series would likely be a more one-sided affair for Golden State (though I hate to admit that). Except he’s not, and it suddenly feels like Toronto has a shot to win the title. What a world.
We won’t get into the nuts-and-bolts of what KD’s absence means for the Warriors on the court. But the off-court narrative is an interesting one. If Golden State loses without him, it will vindicate Durant’s presence on the team — they need him to win. If they go on to beat Toronto without him, all of the fans of the Steph-led Warriors will come out of the woodwork to run KD out of town. There’s a lot at stake for Durant, both personally and professionally.
And yet I’m willing to bet he’s still cheesed about not being able to get in the last word on Drake.
Verdict: Actually thrilled just to be included
Boogie is not having a very good Finals so far. He looked gassed in eight minutes during Thursday night’s Game 1, and hurt the Warriors more than he helped. Unfortunately for Drake, Cousins, a former Kentucky Wildcat, will always have this visual in the back of his mind when even thinking about Drake.
There’s just no coming back from that. Even if you are as someone preternaturally confident as Drake.
That said, me personally, I hope Cousins is indeed mad and I hope he tries his damnedest to try and make a statement in Game 2 in Toronto. The Raptors need you Boogie!
Verdict: Here’s hoping he gets a chance to be mad
Look, Iguodala has been a Finals MVP already, and he’s got a memoir coming out, and he’s got a first name only Twitter handle too. He’s been around the NBA, seen some things, and has always, always been a force for good for his team. This is his 15th season in the league and I find it hard to imagine a situation where Iguodala is troubled by the antics of anyone on the sideline.
Verdict: Too cool to care
Livingston is known for two things: his astounding comeback from a gruesome leg injury that almost derailed his career entirely, and for hitting short jumpers out of the post. That’s it. Can you think of literally anything else to add here? Do we know if Livingston even listens to music?
Verdict: Impossible to read, likely does not care
The Rest of the Warriors
Imagine for a moment you are Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, Jonas Jerebko, or even former Raptor Alfonzo McKinnie. You’re sitting on the Golden State Warriors’ bench, already a member of a championship-level team. For a change, instead of having to go to Cleveland, you get to visit Toronto, a truly world class city (yeah, I said it). It’s the NBA Finals and it’s serious business.
But also, there’s Drake, a huge celebrity, just sitting there (well, some of the time). After this series is said and done, after everyone is finished talking about the star players — Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Steph, Klay, KD, and more — they will likely turn to talking about Drake before coming around to mention the seventh to 11th men on the Warriors bench. That’s you, that’s where you’re at right now.
It’s not not a huge deal to be here, is my point.
So that settles the issue. No one is actually mad on the Warriors — with Draymond and KD coming closest — unless Drake decides to do something really egregious.
Or, you know, the Raptors win the 2019 NBA Championship.