Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star and a favorite to win the N.B.A.’s Most Valuable Player Award, was walking toward his team’s bench during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s thrilling Eastern Conference finals matchup against the Raptors in Toronto.
And there was the rapper Drake, sitting in his usual courtside seat, wearing what could be charitably described as a purple coat of some sort, and sending a steady stream of unfriendly chatter toward Antetokounmpo as he walked by. Antetokounmpo gamely tried not to show any reaction, but his bottom jaw was jutted out nonetheless.
It’s a safe bet he heard the taunts of the Raptors’ most famous fan.
The TNT analyst Reggie Miller surely did.
“Drake is Spike 2.0,” he said as Antetokounmpo headed to the bench, referring to the film director Spike Lee, who famously railed against Knicks opponents when the team played meaningful games in the 20th century.
Miller would know. As a member of the Indiana Pacers, he routinely exchanged trash talk with Lee. During the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Miller turned to Lee and put his hands around his own neck to signify choking in a game the Knicks lost thanks to a late barrage by Miller.
Twenty-five years later, there was Drake, mocking Antetokounmpo when he fouled out in the second overtime. Drake, his face expressionless, waved repeatedly, as if he were a royal monarch, to the departing Greek star.
The Raptors won, 118-112, much to the delight of Drake, and on Tuesday night they had a chance to even the series at two games apiece. And Drake had another chance to do what he does fairly well: irritate the typically unflappable Bucks.
I know he annoys many N.B.A. watchers. He has for a while, ever since he was named the Raptors’ global ambassador in 2013. Complex named Drake the “most annoying celebrity fan” last year. But, man, I do enjoy watching him troll N.B.A. players.