NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has talked to rapper Drake about toning down his courtside antics during Raptors games following criticism of his actions during the Eastern Conference Finals. Drake, who serves as an official ambassador for the team, was animated during all three games at Scotiabank Arena, including giving Raptors coach Nick Nurse a brief massage during Game 4. Silver, during an appearance on Yahoo Sports' "Posted Up" podcast yesterday said, "We appreciate how big a fan he is, and I know the Raptors do. ... He's a global star, so it's a huge deal that he's so engaged with the team and loves the NBA so much. Obviously there are some lines that ambassadors shouldn't cross." Silver added, "Drake understands that as excited as he is and as appreciative as we are of his support, that there's got to be lines drawn, and you don't want to end up touching a coach. There's a line, too, in terms of sitting on the floor and in terms of engagement, whether it's with the referees and players of other teams. ... There's conversation that's taken place but it's more just 'Alright, let's just find where the right line is.' But Drake's great" ("Posted Up," SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/29).
GIVEN WARNINGS BEFORE: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt notes this "isn’t the first time the league stepped [in] to address Drake’s sideline antics." The rapper during the Raptors' playoff series against the Cavaliers last year got into a "shouting match" with Cavs C Kendrick Perkins. The two "had to be separated," leading the NBA to issue Drake a "warning." The Raptors in '13 gave Drake the "official title of global brand ambassador, and the Raptors have partnered with Drake’s OVO brand (record label, apparel, music festival) on multiple initiatives." The team’s practice facility is called the OVO Athletic Centre (USA TODAY, 5/30). ESPN.com's Michele Steele noted Silver "issued a memo earlier this year reminding the league's franchises to state and enforce their fan-conduct policies." Meanwhile, the Warriors have "downplayed Drake's presence" ahead of the NBA Finals (ESPN.com, 5/29).
NONSTOP: THE RINGER's Lindsay Zoladz writes under the header, "Drake Is The True Villain Of The NBA Finals." It is "perhaps the only thing we can all agree upon as a nation, if not an entire species existing within an interconnected biosphere: Drake needs to cool it when sitting courtside at basketball games." Massaging Nurse "wasn’t an isolated incident, of course," as Drake has spent the Raptors' entire playoffs run "springing to his feet at random like an oddly emotive jack-in-the-box." Zoladz: "I'm all for celebrities ... having fun at basketball games. But what Drake has been doing this season feels different, more disruptive, more About Him" (THERINGER.com, 5/30). THE GUARDIAN's Aaron Timms writes Drake has "exploited every avenue possible to make the story of this exceptional Raptors postseason about him rather than the team." Timms: "We’ve come a long way since the days of Jack Nicholson in his shades at the Great Western Forum. ... Today’s celebrity fan is ... the type of person who does not simply want to appreciate great feats of athleticism from a respectful distance but be right there in the thick of things, firing the troops up, goading the enemy, living the highs, suffering together through the lows" (THEGUARDIAN.com, 5/30).
WHAT'S WRONG WITH A LITTLE FUN? The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes Canadians "seem mildly embarrassed by the whole thing." Kelly: "Why does Drake have to be so, I don’t know, garish?" Though Drake gets an "outrageous amount of press, very little of it is devoted to how much good he does on behalf of the side." Drake is an "unironic example of how boosterism should work in a place that gets itchy at the thought of self-promotion." Kelly: "Drake is a mirror, reflecting the best part of the city back at the rest of us. The one that believes in itself and isn’t afraid to say so. ... Everyone’s welcome into the tent that Drake is helping erect. All you have to do is show up and agree that having fun is fun" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30).
THE TALK OF THE TOWN: Drake's presence and antics were a big topic during the opening panel yesterday at the ’19 Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit. See THE DAILY's recap of the panel to see what top execs from AT&T and BMO Financial said about the rapper.