Drake, Spike Lee and Rihanna – five times celebrities became part of the game

By Thomas Lott 24 May 2019 8
Drake, Spike Lee and Rihanna – five times celebrities became part of the game

Sitting courtside at an NBA game has a special feel to it, but celebrities have often been far too involved.

Drake became part of the narrative in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer decided to address the situation the other day.

So, what are some of the most notable times celebrities got involved in the game?

Spike Lee, 1994 NBA playoffs

Probably the most famous celebrity interaction with a player came when director Spike Lee got into it with Indiana Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller.

With the Pacers down to Lee's New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in the 1994 NBA playoffs, Lee started to get cocky and taunt Miller from his courtside seat.

All Miller did was go off for 24 points in the fourth quarter as the the Pacers came back to beat the Knicks.

Lee was then on the cover of tabloids taking blame for the loss and became as much a focus of the series as the games themselves.

Fortunately for Lee, who showed up to Indiana for the next game, the Knicks were able to come back and win, otherwise the director may have never gotten to go back to MSG for fear of retribution from angry Knicks fans.


Rihanna and Kevin Durant, 2017 NBA Finals

This one was a bit more fleeting than Lee, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Rihanna, a noted LeBron James fan, was courtside for a game at Oracle Arena during the 2017 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

From her seat, she stood and yelled at Durant throughout a game, prompting a stare down from the Warriors star after a late three-pointer.

Rihanna even reportedly yelled "Brick!" when Durant was at the free-throw line, which again prompted a stare.

Unfortunately for Rihanna, the Warriors went on to win the game and the series in five games over James' Cavaliers.

Drake and the Bucks, 2019 Eastern Conference Finals

This one is the freshest in everyone's mind and one of the more bizarre ones.

Drake – noted rapper and sports jinx – is a hardcore supporter of his Raptors and routinely makes appearances courtside at the team's games.

Drake has been seen yelling at players from his courtside seat and was even caught giving a shoulder rub to Toronto coach Nick Nurse.

The rapper's actions have elicited comments from both Budenholzer and Giannis Antetokounmpo's former agent.

Either way, this series is not over yet and Drake will get at least one more chance to annoy the Bucks courtside in Toronto. We will see, though, if he makes an appearance in Milwaukee in Game 5, which may make this an even more entertaining saga.


Drake and Kendrick Perkins, 2018 Eastern Conference semi-finals

We could not put Drake on this list just once because he is at games so often he has more of a chance to become involved.

Probably Drake's most notable – and ill-advised – foray into getting involved in games was his standoff with Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins during the 2018 Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Drake got into an argument with Perkins before the center made his way into the locker room at half-time and the two had to be separated before the big man took action against the rapper.

And from what is understood around the NBA, this was not the player to mess with and Drake got lucky it did not go further.

"I'm fine," Perkins said at the time. "What's he going to do?"


Jack Nicholson and Scottie Pippen, 1991 NBA Finals

There are always plenty of celebrities in attendance for Los Angeles Lakers games and Jack Nicholson is a staple at the Staples Center.

The second-best Joker loves to get involved courtside yelling at referees and players and often finds himself on replays on SportsCenter.

But one moment he probably would have preferred not to have been caught on camera was when he flipped the bird, or scratched his neck, to Scottie Pippen during the 1991 NBA Finals.

This incident being caught on tape, though, has not kept Nicholson from being active on the sideline and it is likely he will continue to be so even into his old age.

And honestly, we do not think Pippen really cared as the Chicago Bulls went on to win the NBA Finals over the Lakers in five games.

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Thomas Lott