Day 6

Why everyone should chill out about Drake's courtside antics at Raptors games

Some fans aren't impressed by Drake's courtside behaviour in the playoffs: taunting opposing players and even giving Toronto coach Nick Nurse a brief shoulder massage. But sports journalist Hayden Godfrey says the haters need to stand down because Drake is good for the team and its fans.

Haters need to stand down because Drake is good for the team and its fans, says sports writer

Drake yells during the Toronto Raptors' Game 4 victory in the East final against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was the shoulder massage heard around the world.

At Tuesday night's NBA playoff game between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, Drake walked over to Toronto coach Nick Nurse and gave him a shoulder rub mid-game.

Some fans found it endearing, but for people who think that Drake has been pushing his luck courtside, this was over the line.

The Toronto rapper is a Raptors superfan. And in a more official capacity, he's also the team's ambassador. And it's in that role that Drake can be seen pacing courtside, cheering Toronto's players, taunting opposing players and, apparently, giving brief massages.

Suddenly, a lot of people who had never watched a Toronto Raptors home game learned that Drake has a mighty presence when he's at the Scotiabank Arena.

But the thing is, it's not just Milwaukee fans who have a hate on for Drake. Some Toronto fans feel the same way. His critics say he's overstepping.

Hate the Drake

In a tweet, comedian Gilson Lubin wrote that he "went from loving Drake to not knowing if I'm watching the Raptors in the middle of a Drake video."

But not everyone has joined the Drake pile on. TNT analyst Reggie Miller described Drake as Spike 2.0, referring to the film director Spike Lee's legendary courtside love for the New York Knicks.

Hayden Godfrey is one of many fans who've expressed their support for Drake. Godfrey is a Ryerson University student and freelance sports writer in Toronto.

Raptors Serge Ibaka and fellow Bench Mob stalwart Norm Powell earned the admiration of both their teammates and the ubiquituous Drake in Game 4. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

In February, Godfrey wrote a piece for the Daily Hive entitled, "Raptors partnership with Drake has helped the team reach new heights." And he's still a huge fan.

"I mean, there's so much energy in this guy. And I'll be the first to admit I'm not a fan of Drake's music, but I think Drake is an outstanding individual. He's an ambassador for the organization," explained Godfrey. "He embodies the fan base and I think in that way it's an incredible thing to have him courtside at almost every game."

Why Drake is good for Toronto and basketball

One of the big complaints about Drake is that he is a distraction during games. That was echoed by Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

"There's certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors. You know, to be on the court there's boundaries and lines for a reason. The league is usually pretty good about being on top of stuff like that," said Budenholzer.

But Godfrey disagrees with the notion that Drake is out of bounds.

"I really don't think he is. I mean, I understand where other folks may be coming from saying that, but at the same time the nature of National Basketball Association games is that you can be up close, you can interact with the players, you know. I don't think he goes too far in it," he said.

Godfrey adds that complaints to Drake's courtside behaviour are overblown.

"I think people getting a little bit upset about this might be part of an overreaction in a building like Scotiabank Arena during a big game."

So what message does Godfrey have for the Drake haters out there?

"I say Drake is a part of Toronto's character," said Godfrey. "He's become such an important part of the growth of the sport in this country and I say to those people who are getting a little bit upset to lighten up. It's a game. It's fun and he's making it fun."

To hear more from Hayden Godfrey, download our podcast or click 'Listen' at the top of this page.