With the 2016-17 NBA season in full swing and an official Drake night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in the bag, it’s time to examine one of the franchise’s most fervent (if capricious) fans, a young man by the name of Aubrey Drake Graham.
When it comes to celebrity basketball fans, no one can deny that Drake has boundless enthusiasm and an ardent love for the game. In many ways, this is not unlike his undying devotion and affection for Rihanna. And yet much like his ongoing saga with the pop star, on the basketball front, there have been many, many dalliances hinted at before, during and after his sworn allegiance to the Raptors, his hometown team.
The Toronto native and self-proclaimed “6 God” (the numeral refers to the city’s area code) is open about his love of the Raptors, but just can’t help playing the field when it comes to basketball. On any given night, you might find him sitting courtside in Toronto, Cleveland or Oakland. After a game, it’s not uncommon to catch him in the club with LeBron James or noshing at In-N-Out Burger with Steph and Ayesha Curry, because Drake seems to subscribe to the Taylor Swift school of celebrity friendships: you can never have too many.
Over the last four years, Drake has never been held back by loyalty to just one team. Here’s a handy timeline of his fair-weather fandom.
August 2010: In an interview where he talks about being BFFs with LeBron James and fostering a friendship with future Sacramento Kings star Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins, Drake tells ESPN’s The Life that he is still a “Raptors fan to the death,” although in the same breath, he also acknowledges that since Chris Bosh’s departure, the team “needs something.”
February 2011: Drake makes an appearance alongside rumored flame Rihanna when she performs at the 2011 NBA All-Stars Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. During the time that he isn’t on stage, Drake sits courtside to cheer on all the players from LeBron James to his future ESPY funnyman skit co-star Blake Griffin.
June 2013: The diehard Raptors fan is on deck to celebrate LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s finals victory with the Heat in Miami. While he is denied access to the locker room (“Media only!”), don’t feel too bad for him — he later parties with the team and there is pizza.
September 2013: Drake is named a global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors, charged with what he describes as rebranding the franchise while “spreading the gospel” of Toronto basketball. Other official duties include hosting games, helping design a clothing line with the team and presiding over a designated “Drake Night.” Unofficial duties mostly involve him coaching from the sidelines and taunting other teams on social media.
February 2014: At the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, Drake not only escorts Toronto’s Terrence Ross to the court for the annual dunk contest, but he assists Ross for a between-the-leg dunk. Drake obviously takes his global ambassador duties very seriously.
June 2014: Drake dedicates a memorable lines in his track, “0-100” to the Warriors’ Stephen Curry, proclaiming “I been Steph Curry with the shot/Been cookin’ with the sauce, chef, curry with the pot, boy.” This is the beginning of Drake fostering a friendship with yet another star basketball player.
July 2014: After LeBron James signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Drake is asked during a press conference whether Cleveland is now his favorite sports city because of King James’ move. Drake responds by emphasizing that he does “not team jump” but he will “go watch games in Cleveland” and is definitely looking “into real estate in Cleveland.”
August 2014: During a Toronto show, Drake asks the audience to show some love to then-OKC player Kevin Durant. “Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something,” Drake said. “You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.” The crowd responded with “KD” chants and a standing ovation. This is interpreted as a violation of the league’s anti-tampering rules and the Raptors are fined $25,000, according to a report by ESPN. Note to other aspiring global ambassadors — this is not a good look.
December 2015: Drake attends a home game for the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena; he later makes an In-N-Out run with Steph and Ayesha Curry, because that’s what best friends do.
January 2016: Drake drops his track “Summer Sixteen” where he claims that “Golden State running practice at my house” and name checks Draymond Green. Steph Curry later explains that the lyric came from a pick-up game that he played at Drake’s house with his brother-in-law and the rapper.
February 2016: The Toronto Raptors lose on their own turf to the Golden State Warriors, but Drake didn’t look like he was feeling too sad about it, as he posted pictures with Steph Curry and Warriors reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude after the game.
Later that month, Toronto hosts the NBA All-Stars game and Drake is on deck for any and all festivities. The Canadian rapper gives his man of the moment some major love during the game.
April 2016: Drake namechecks Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, whom he had formerly sought to recruit for the Raptors, in a song titled “Weston Road Flows” off his album Views. With the lyrics “Shout out to KD, we relate, we get the same attention/It’s rainin’ money, Oklahoma City Thunder,” Drake compares himself to yet another good friend in the NBA.
May 2016: Remember the Drake who considered buying real estate in Cleveland to watch LeBron play? Remember the Drake who ate pizza in the club with the King? He’s been replaced by a bravado-filled Drake whose Toronto Raptors faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. To the team’s credit, the Raptors gave the Cavs a good run for their money. The Cavaliers, as expected, advanced to the finals, but we’ll always have the many memes Drake posted to his Instagram.
June 2016: Drake bets French Montana $60,000 that the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, in what might be the most bandwagon move of his career. That’s because the Warriors are the reigning champs and this move has Drake effectively rooting against his longtime friend and former favorite NBA player LeBron James. Unfortunately for Drizzy, his faith in new BFF Steph Curry proves to be misplaced because the Warriors lose to the Cavs in a heartbreaking game 7 of the series. Drake has to cough up $60k to French.
September 2016: Drake sports multiple NBA players’ jerseys during his Summer Sixteen tour, but interestingly enough, chooses to wear a Kevin Durant Warriors jersey on the first night of his Bay Area concert despite a well-documented love fest with the Warriors’ Steph Curry in recent years.
November 2016: The Golden State Warriors defeat the Toronto Raptors on the Raptors’ home turf on Drake night, which results in Drake waffling between supporting Durant’s controversial decision to leave the Oklahoma Thunder to sign with the Dubs, telling reporters that he’s “happy to see my friend happy” and then staring down a very unconcerned Durant during the game. Later, Drake seems to “bump” into KD during a post-game interview, to which Durant has a very clear response.
In conclusion, Drake might have summed up his life as the NBA’s biggest bandwagon fan best with his tweet from 2012: