A History of Drake's Most Memorable NBA Courtside Moments

Brad Callas

Since becoming the Toronto Raptors’ official global ambassador at the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, Drake has made a name for himself as the league’s most vocal celebrity superfan since Spike Lee. His sideline antics have produced several unforgettable moments (from lint-rolling his attire to nearly fighting Kendrick Perkins) but Drake’s overzealous trolling also has the tendency to rub players the wrong way.

On the heels of the Raptors’ series-tying win over the Bucks in Game 4 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, Drizzy received some backlash for his courtside tomfoolery as both Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer and Georgios Dimitropoulos (Giannis Antetokounmpo's former European agent) called Drake out. Following a tweet from Dimitropoulos referencing Drake’s courtside antics, Budenholzer offered his own criticism of the 6 God’s behavior, saying there's "certainly no place" for his antics.

"I don't know of any person attending the game that isn't a player or coach that has access to the court," Budenholzer told reporters. "I don't know how much he's on the court. It sounds like you guys are saying a lot [...] There's certainly no place for fans—or whatever exactly is what Drake is for the Raptors—on the court. There's boundaries and lines for a reason. The league is pretty good about that."

Hours later, Drake took to social media and seemingly responded to the criticism with some emojis, including one of a salt shaker. Heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Finals, it's time to run through a history of the greatest courtside moments of Drake’s career.

  • Game 2, 2014 Eastern First Round (Nets at Raptors): Drake pulls out a lint roller

    Game 2 of the Raptors’ 2014 first round series against the Nets was important for two reasons: It was Toronto’s first playoff win in six years (which in turn kick-started the most successful era in franchise history) and it was the scene for the first and most famous courtside moment of Drake’s career: The Lint Roller. Halfway through the first quarter, cameras caught the 6 God obsessively lint-rolling his black jeans, thus beginning his reign as a meme-generating fixture at Raptors home games.

  • 2016 NBA All-Star Game: Drake photobombs legendary photo

    The most endearing moment from Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star Game took place during the fourth quarter, when his former usurper, LeBron James, emphatically slapped the floor while playfully defending his predecessor and longtime rival. Thankfully, the sequence was captured in an iconic photo. Considering the context, it's arguably one of the greatest photos ever taken of the two superstars. Who cares if Drake and his custom Kobe jacket block much of the picture?

  • March 16, 2016 (Bulls at Raptors): Drake helps cause five-second violation

    The Raptors were trailing by three with 25.8 seconds remaining in a regular season matchup with the Bulls, and Drake roamed the sidelines, stopping to jaw in the ear of Chicago’s Justin Holiday, who was looking to inbound the ball. With the rapper in his head, Holiday took too long, and the Bulls were hit with a five-second violation. Having successfully forced a turnover that gave the Raptors new life, Drake fist-pumped and pranced back to his usual courtside seat. Unfortunately, his efforts didn’t ultimately help, as Toronto lost the game.

  • Game 5, 2016 Eastern First Round (Pacers at Raptors): Drake taunts Rodney Stuckey after turnover

    Granted, it’s the poor-man’s Spike Lee vs. Reggie Miller, but Drake and LeBron’s back-and-forth trash talk during the 2016 Eastern Finals was important, if only in hindsight: After Drake heckled him during Game 4—with the Raptors on the verge of tying the series up at two games apiece—LeBron responded by taunting the rapper several times during the Cavs series-ending win in Game 6, en route to sweeping the Raptors in each of the next two postseasons, thus birthing #LeBronto.

  • November 16, 2016 (Warriors at Raptors): Drake trash talks Kevin Durant

    Less than a month into his first season with the Warriors, Kevin Durant arrived in Toronto to take on the Raptors at the third annual Drake Night game in November 2016. Durant was a victim of Drake’s trash talk all night long, highlighted by a memorable moment in the third quarter: After Demar Derozan hit a big three pointer to give the Raptors a comfortable lead, Drizzy made sure to stare down KD, who was leaning on the scorer’s table waiting to check back into the game, seemingly unfazed.

  • November 29, 2017 (Hornets at Raptors): Drake caught mixing drinks on jumbotron

    Three-plus years removed from The Lint Roller moment, we were due for an enjoyably innocent moment from Fanboy Drake. Following several months of slick-talking sideline antics, The Boy went viral during a regular season Raptors game in November 2017. Caught off guard by the jumbotron (which zoomed in on him as he was mixing drinks from his usual courtside seat) Drake’s hilarious reaction would spawn countless memes.

  • January 13, 2018 (Warriors at Raptors): Drake mocks Kevin Durant after missed dunk

    Heading into their regular season matchup with the defending champion Warriors, the Raptors (owners of the third-best record in the NBA at the time) were feeling themselves. Naturally, Drake was, too, and he responded by heckling KD all night long, highlighted by a sequence in the third quarter when the rapper mocked Durant after a missed dunk, yelling, "That was trash!"

  • Game 2, 2018 Eastern First Round (Wizards at Raptors): Drake heckles John Wall and Kelly Oubre

    With the Raptors up 1-0 in their first round series versus the Wizards, Drake shared a video on Instagram in which he tells John Wall, "John, you’re getting bodied by 20 tonight." Toronto would back his claims, winning the contest 130-119. But the best part of the night came later on, when Drake crossed paths with third-year Wizards forward Kelly Oubre as the cameras caught the rapper calling him "a bum."

  • Game 1, 2018 Eastern Semifinals (Cavaliers at Raptors): Drake picks fight with the wrong Kendrick

    Drake’s interactions with NBA players rarely strayed far from good natured trash talk—until 2018's series between the Cavs and Raptors. During Game 1, things got heated between Drizzy and Cleveland reserve Kendrick Perkins, as players from both teams were heading to their respective locker rooms for halftime. Something then sparked a shouting match between Drake and Perkins, which, after exchanging more words post-game, ended with the rapper allegedly following Perk into the tunnel and calling him names.

  • November 29, 2018 (Warriors at Raptors): Drake and Kevin Durant exchange pleasantries

    This is the moment that made me believe Drake was being honest when he rapped about “running Golden State practice at his house,” on his 2016 single "Summer Sixteen." While Durant headed off of the floor to the locker room after the second quarter of a regular season matchup with the Raptors, him and Drake had the type of playful interaction that’s reserved only for close friends, as KD responded to the 6 God’s friendly trash talk by giving him a purple nurple.

  • Game 5, 2019 Eastern Semifinals (Sixers at Raptors): Drake Mocks Joel Embiid’s airplane celebration

    As notable trolls in their respective fields, Drake and Joel Embiid are a match made in heaven. So it’s hardly surprising that their first incident of trash talk featured the rapper mocking the Sixers’ superstar’s signature airplane celebration, which Drake impersonated from the sidelines during Toronto’s blowout win over Philadelphia in Game 5 of their second round series.

  • Game 3, 2019 Eastern Finals (Bucks at Raptors): Drake trolls Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Months after donning Giannis’ jersey on his Instagram story, Drake has dropped his bandwagon tendencies and fell back into his role as the Raptors' hype man. After Toronto dropped the first two games of the 2019 Eastern Finals in Milwaukee, Drake dialed up his antics in Game 3 and focused his heckling efforts on the Bucks superstar. Things came to a head when Giannis fouled out in the second overtime of the Raptors’ win, prompting Drake to wave goodbye to the Greek Freak as he headed towards the bench.

  • Game 4, 2019 Eastern Finals (Bucks at Raptors): Drake clowns Giannis, rubs Nick Nurse’s shoulders

    the Raptors’ series-tying Game 4 win over the Bucks featured the most overzealous Courtside Drake performance to date. Drizzy spent most of the night prancing the sidelines and clowning Giannis, celebrating his free throw misses with sarcastic laughter and mock air guitars. But the most enjoyable moment of the night came when the rapper got up close and personal with Nick Nurse, playfully rubbing the coach’s shoulders in a showcase of appreciation.

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