Drake congratulates Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) as he leaves the court with three minutes left in the in second half action in Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference final against the Milwaukee Bucks in Toronto on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The Raptors defeat the Bucks 120-102. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Drake passions heat up with Raptors’ run as crucial game approaches

The off-court beef has been equal parts invigorating and infuriating for fans of both teams

By now, Drake’s relentless grandstanding on behalf of his beloved Toronto Raptors is to be expected.

And so too, then, is the wrath of Milwaukee Bucks’ fans now excoriating the Canadian rapper for a series of escalating taunts.

READ MORE: Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

The off-court beef has been equal parts invigorating and infuriating for fans of both teams, with Drake’s gleeful jeers only goading more cross-border smack-talk on the eve of Saturday’s pivotal Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference final at Scotiabank Arena.

The mantle south of the border was taken up Thursday night by Mallory Edens, the daughter of Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens, who trolled the 6 God by sitting courtside at Game 5 in a shirt featuring Drake nemesis Pusha T.

Drake clapped back on Instagram by changing his profile avatar to one of Mallory Edens. Clicking on the photo leads to multiple images and video clips that include cheering Raptors fans in the Scotiabank Arena’s tailgate zone, Jurassic Park, as they emerged victorious Thursday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“All is fair in war and war and trust me, I’ll still get you tickets to ovo fest,” reads one card, referring to Drake’s star-studded summer music festival.

Another quote is overlaid on a photo of what appears to be a recording studio with a large window that looks onto the CN Tower: “Meet me in Jurassic Park at 8:30 whole city should be out like the sun… history is upon us.”

Several Bucks fans, meanwhile, showed up in “F—k Drake” t-shirts at Thursday’s game in Milwaukee.

Drake wasn’t there to witness this in person.

Instead the Raptors’ global ambassador celebrated with his entourage amid jubilant Toronto fans at Jurassic Park, pacing on an adjacent stage as critical possessions came and went, and beaming as the buzzer confirmed another win for Canada’s lone NBA team.

Drake’s ties to the team go well beyond the run-of-the mill superfan.

His powerful OVO brand is woven deeply into the team — literally, when you consider those Drake-inspired uniforms they’ve donned for the series, not to mention the team’s practice facility, recently renamed the OVO Athletic Centre.

But while Drake’s ardent fandom makes for juicy headlines and reliably animated reaction shots for TV cameras, it has raised questions about reasonable courtside decorum, which has included jabs at rival coaches, referees and players alike.

Drake’s antics have clearly hit a nerve.

Earlier in the series, a Milwaukee radio station put a temporary ban on Drake tunes. The hosts at 103.7 KISS-FM said they hoped their “break from Drake” would help the Bucks squash the Raptors.

Earlier in the series, Drake weathered hometown wariness, too, for a supposed curse when many superstitious sports fans pointed out that past teams and athletes he has supported often lose.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

V.I. Raiders build ‘team environment’ at main camp

Nanaimo-based junior football team held camp this past weekend in Parksville

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations

One sailing from Horseshoe Bay and one sailing from Departure Bay cancelled Monday

Nanaimo Highland dancers ‘reel’ successful at nationals

Brigadoon dancers competed in Moncton, N.B., earlier this month

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Protection from spills falls short

Letter writer can’t imagine bringing bitumen oil to our ‘salmon sea’

Pirates have a chance to win pennant

Mid Island Pirates sweep Langley Blaze, four midweek games remain

Nanaimo tubber sets all-time record at bathtub race

Justin Lofstrom completes course in fastest-ever time

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Surrey court clerk files human rights complaint related to concussion

Deborah A. Ryane claims her employer discriminated against her on basis of mental disability

Food fight: Liberals, Tories trade shots as pre-campaign battles intensify

Health Canada released an overhauled document that did away with traditional food groups and portion sizes

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read