The Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors shed some light on the emergence of a star.
Not Giannis Antetokounmpo. No, not Kawhi Leonard.
“But Drake is already a star!”
Sure, Drake is a star in the music world, but he is now making a name for himself as one of the premiere sideline fan personalities in the NBA.
Throughout the series, he was engaged and had a major impact on the atmosphere in Toronto. So, where does Drake rank amongst the best ‘super fans’/trolls in basketball?
4. Purple Shirt Guy
Just in case you forget this guy, here he is.
This is one of my favorite fan/player interactions, but since purple shirt guy is a one hit wonder, I can’t put him any higher on the list. Dwyane Wade is involved with this incident, and purple shirt guy seemed to motivate Wade to dominate the game.
Purple shirt guy is the perfect sideline super fan. He’s crazy, bold and doesn’t know when to shut up. As he added fuel to Wade’s fire, it was both detrimental for Hornets fans and entertaining for us. You know it’s a successful troll job when the commentators talk about it.
3. Kevin Hart
Coming onto the trash-talking scene relatively recently, Hart has created a reputation of being a diehard Philadelphia 76ers fan. In order to be an effective sideline fan, you have to actually interact with the players. Hart checked that box in 2017 when the 76ers hosted the Rockets during the regular season.
After some back-and-forth trash talking between Hart and James Harden, Harden went on to score 51 points in a Rockets win. However, in the postgame interview, Harden made sure to emphasize that they have a strong friendship, and the trash talk was ‘all love’.
Hart also teamed up with Allen Iverson to trash talk Wade in the 2018 playoffs, and Wade mentioned Hart in his postgame press conference.
The fact that Hart frequently provokes players to interact with him is why he’s on this list.
Let’s be clear. Drake is super annoying. However, I give him a lot of credit. While he seems to be a bandwagon fan for basically every team in every sport, his sports fandom is revolved around the Raptors.
I give Drake credit because he is at every home playoff game, pestering the opposing team’s best players. His celebrity status may actually be enough to antagonize opponents to engage in a ‘game within the game’. This video is a great example of how impactful and annoying drake can be.
Toronto just defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals to clinch its first NBA Finals appearance in the franchise’s history. It will be interesting to see if Drake elevates his fandom to a whole new level.
1. Spike Lee
Spike is probably the most well-known sideline celebrity in the NBA. Highlighted by his infamous exchanges with Reggie Miller, Lee’s sideline popularity has grown into a legacy. In fact, Winning Time, an “ESPN Films” production, shows an in-depth look at the animosity between Reggie Miller and the New York Knicks, specifically Spike Lee.
Especially given the Knicks recent struggles, Lee is perhaps near the top of the list when thinking of people associated with the franchise. Spike is also versatile, as he is very friendly to a lot of players but can also feud with a lot of players, like Miller.
It’s very rare to see players stop, face a fan and actually interact with them during the game. Miller did it with Lee in a very public, personal way. This interaction is just one example of why Spike Lee is the most prominent NBA sideline fan.
The argument can be made that all of these fans have actually hurt their team at some point. But that’s what makes them entertaining. When fans can provoke players to interact with them, it makes everything more interesting, and these guys have a knack for getting under the skin of opponents.