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The celebrity courtside superfan is a longstanding, and beloved, part of the NBA.
Nicholson in Los Angeles. Spike in New York. At various times, we’ve had Tiger Woods in Orlando, Eminem in Detroit, Jay-Z in Brooklyn. Mark Cuban kind of qualifies, even though he also owns the Dallas Mavericks. Almost everyone has at least one.
At times things have gotten a bit dicey. Spike Lee seemed to inspire Indiana’s Reggie Miller to raise his game during 1990s playoff series against Lee’s beloved Knicks. Jimmy Buffett was once tossed out of a Miami Heat game for screaming at the refs.
Which brings us to Toronto and Drake, who prior to Tuesday’s Raptors overtime playoff loss to Cleveland was a mostly harmless, fun-loving constant in Row One of the Air Canada Centre (and occasionally bandwagons across the league).
Drake loves the NBA, all facets of the NBA. He’s performed at the All-Star Game. He’s helped out during dunk contests. He’s made a postgame In-N-Out run with Steph and Ayesha Curry. One of his biggest hits, “Forever,” references LeBron James (“Last name Ever, first name Greatest”). He’s name-checked Curry, Kevin Durant and others in different songs. He once wore a shirt that declared ESPN broadcaster Doris Burke his “Woman Crush Everyday.”
He adds some electricity to the arena and the Raptors, whose roster isn’t exactly stocked with superstars. In March, Toronto actually held “Drake Night” as a sign of appreciation.
Drake is cool. Who doesn’t love Drake?
Well, Kendrick Perkins for one, apparently. And for good reason.
Drake lost it on Tuesday. It’s hopefully temporary, but he lost it, getting into a couple of wild verbal altercations with Perkins, a reserve for the Cavs who wasn’t even in uniform.
The uber talented singer, producer, actor and businessman butted heads with Perkins at halftime and after the game, including reportedly shouting through a curtain toward a hallway that led to the Cavs’ locker room. It was enough that NBA security felt the need to get in the middle.
It included Drake delivering some rather nasty insults at Perkins and, according to the Toronto Star, actually encouraging a physical fight at some point in the future.
“Go get your boy, I’m here in real life,” Drake said.
OK, let’s start with this. Kendrick Perkins stands 6-foot-10, weighs 270 pounds and has a ridiculous 7-foot-4 wingspan. If he gets a mitt on 99 percent of the world population (maybe even higher) they are going to catch one hellacious beating.
Drake is, well, not even close in any of these measurables, which suggest that unless he’s got some world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills we don’t know about (like Royce Gracie on steroids), challenging Perkins to much of anything is so ill-advised it’s comical.
So, Mr. Drake, respectfully, let’s just relax a little and be a good fan. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have or how great the music you produce is, NBA players should be allowed to play without being challenged to a fight. At this point, there isn’t much of a difference between you and that guy in Utah that Russell Westbrook had to bark at in the first round.
Drake is Drake, except when he takes his seat in the stands. Then he’s just like everyone else and should respect the players who are actually playing.
This isn’t his first incident. He’s gotten into it at far less intense levels with John Wall, Draymond Green, Kelly Oubre and others. He and LeBron sometimes jaw, although that seems like it’s born out of friendship. This wasn’t.
He certainly isn’t doing a service to the Raptors – Perkins says he was talking with Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and predicting a Cleveland victory when Drake, out of nowhere, got involved.
“Drake got involved talking [expletive] to me,” Perkins told ESPN.
Later Drake responded on Twitter by laughing at “the hem on [Perkins’] capris.”
The Raptors melted down on Tuesday, collapsing once again in the face of Cleveland on a night the Cavs were there to be had. Cleveland dragged themselves into Game 1 after a grueling, emotional seven-game series victory over Indiana that required LeBron James to expend considerable energy.
In the end, though, Cleveland won 113-112 Tuesday, pulling away in overtime after not leading at all during regulation. It was a gift of a victory for the Cavs. The Raptors need to regroup.
Now they’ve got their most famous fan stirring the pot. The last thing Toronto needs is for a fired-up Cleveland to walk in on Thursday looking to defend Perkins’ honor and shut up Drake by shutting down the Raptors.
Perkins doesn’t even play, so it’s not like he’s going to be over-emotional and perform poorly. Somehow, Drake made a 33-year-old insurance-policy big man and locker-room good guy a factor in the series.
It would have been far better with Cleveland exhaling and drifting into Game 2 without focus.
If for nothing else, Drake should realize that.
Or this: He’s a Raptors fan. He isn’t an actual Raptor.
You wouldn’t think this needs to be said, but you wouldn’t think anyone in his right mind would challenge Kendrick Perkins to a fight either.
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