The Toronto Raptors are up 2-0 in their first round series against the Washington Wizards. And in those two games, Drake has finagled himself into the series’ storylines. Prior to Game 1, he engaged in Instagram comment warfare with John Wall. Exhibit A:
John Wall is ready for playoff Drake in the 6⃣ today… pic.twitter.com/zzPMG6DnZz
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) April 14, 2018
This led to the “God’s Plan” rapper taunting Wall from the sideline during last night’s Game 2. Exhibit B:
"John, you're getting bodied by 20 tonight."
Drake & John Wall trash talking during the Raptors GM2 win over the Wizards. pic.twitter.com/zZU4GV7f6t
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 18, 2018
During the same game, Drake and third year forward Kelly Oubre crossed paths as the cameras caught the former calling the latter “a bum.” Exhibit C
Drake just called Kelly Oubre Jr. a bum as he ran by pic.twitter.com/8b9MLJ0mpU
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 18, 2018
Leave it to social media to recover an old Oubre tweet from 2011 where the Wizard star said the rapper had no swag—which was deleted almost immediately following Tuesday night’s game. Oubre downplayed the incident, saying the two were jawing back and forth all game. Exhibit D:
Kelly Oubre Jr. heard Drake call him a "bum" during Game 2. "That’s my guy though. I see him in the summer time… we pretty much run the streets of LA together, on the A-list tip, not in the hood way. He is a great rapper.” pic.twitter.com/WWPchLCJAl
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) April 18, 2018
The trash talk compounds to a fascinating subplot in the playoffs that highlights court side celebrities involving themselves in the game—most recently evidenced by Dwyane Wade and comedian Kevin Hart in Game 2 of the Sixers/Heat series. But the dynamic isn’t new — the league’s greatest athlete-celebrity rivalry was Reggie Miller and Spike Lee. But let’s focus on Drake for a second. Whether you deem him a fair weather fan or not, there’s no denying his love for the NBA. There’s also no denying everything he does is with a purpose. Drake is either rap’s savviest director, an evil marketing genius or a lovechild of the two. Look no further than last week’s Atlanta episode appropriately titled “Champagne Papi.,” which even served as part of the rollout for his newest anthem “Nice For What”—which, this week, supplanted his previous No. 1 in “God’s Plan” for the top song in the country. And on Monday, he announced the title for his highly anticipated new album—Scorpion dropping in June. All the pieces matter.
His hometown Raptors are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. A potential second round matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers sits on the horizon pending both advance. And his album could very well drop dead square in the middle of the NBA Finals. From Fortnite to hit TV shows, Drake has firmly entrenched himself in several culturally relevant conversations. The NBA playoffs are just his latest muse.