TORONTO – Is Rap star Drake getting into the heads of the Milwaukee Bucks, especially star player Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The recording artist and Toronto Raptors fan might take credit for having something to do with the Eastern Conference finals being tied at 2-2 after the Bucks dropped Games 3 and 4 in Toronto.
On Wednesday, a tweet from a senior executive for Octagon, the agency representing Antetokounmpo, called out Drake for his repeated trolling of the Bucks in general and specifically their superstar power forward.
“Imagine a gig and an athlete on VIP row seats, right next to the band, stands up on the stage just to show off during the entire game, knowing cameras are on him, occasionally even massaging the singer,” wrote Georgios Dimitropoulos, Antetokounmpo’s former European agent before he was named senior director for Octagon Basketball Europe. “Security&him both allow it. Never seen anything as disrespectful as this before …”
The tweet subsequently was deleted.
Drake responded Wednesday night on Instagram. He posted a photo of himself cheering on the Raptors, adding emojis of a smiling face, a salt shaker and a person shrugging.
He then “liked” a post from a follower that read: “Sports media needs to accept the simple rule the Miami Hurricanes signed into law back in the 80s: if you don’t want the opposing team to celebrate and dance, prevent them from scoring, winning, or achieving their objective. Get over it and keep it moving.”
Sitting in his usual seat near the Raptors bench throughout Game 4 on Tuesday night when Toronto beat the Bucks 120-102, Drake made his presence felt. He laughed when free throws were missed by Antetokounmpo, who hit only 6 of 10 (including an airball) but still scored 25 points.
In a double-overtime loss in Game 3, Antetokounmpo made 2 of 7 free throws and scored only 12 points.
On Wednesday, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer spoke out about the so-called trolling.
“You can’t help but occasionally see Drake just going into timeouts or in and out of timeouts, whether he’s encouraging or cheering for Toronto,” he said. “You know, trying to talk to referees. To say I don’t see it at all would be inaccurate, but to say I give it much or any thought, you know, it’s kind of ‘same answer, same mantra.’
“I just tend to ignore and focus on our team, focus on whatever it is we need to be doing.”
How much Drake gets away with might depend on his celebrity status, according to the coach.
“I don’t know how much he’s on the court,” Budenholzer added. “It sounds like you guys are saying it’s more than I realize. 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, and like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that.”
Bucks fans don’t believe Drake is getting a bum rap, though. And neither does the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a headline that read: “Milwaukee totally hates Drake, somehow allowed to roam the court and troll Giannis.”
Last year, the NBA reportedly warned the world-famous artist about “the use of bad language” after he traded barbs with Cleveland Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The pair exchanged words as the Raptors and Cavaliers headed to the tunnels at halftime, and another harsh exchange followed at the end of the game.
The musician is a global ambassador and technically a team employee as well as partial owner. By also being in and around college team locker rooms and celebrations, such as University of Kentucky and John Caliperi, Drake has drawn the ire of NCAA officials as well.
–Field Level Media