Like Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles and Spike Lee in New York before him, Drake has established himself as the premier superfan of the current era in the NBA. A mainstay on the Toronto Raptors’ sideline and a team ambassador (which as far as anyone can tell means he’s their official celebrity fan), the hip-hop superstar has tied himself as tightly to his team as he possibly can. And now that his Raptors have won their first NBA Championship – with Drake soaking up a lot of airtime along the way – we’re asking the question of what this whole thing has done for his image and reputation. Let’s talk about Drake And The Toronto Raptors.

The Annoying Side Of Things

Let’s not beat around the bush with the negative side of things: Drake annoys the hell out of a lot of NBA fans with his sideline antics. More than perhaps any regular courtside fan since Lee, Drake invovles himself in games – he doesn’t just watch them. He goes beyond cheering and yelling at players and referees and stands up, roving along his portion of the sideline to the point that he looks as if he must be a distraction for coaches and players (and certainly for viewers). The NBA even warned Drake to keep his hands to himself during the Raptors’ playoff run, following complaints by an opposing coach (though to be clear Drake only touched the Raptors’ own coach, Nick Nurse). Yes, Drake has worked hard to be able to do this sort of thing, and it’s not for anyone to say he shouldn’t fully enjoy himself with it – but plenty of people have a negative image of him specifically because he distracts from the actual NBA action.

The Athletes’ Respect

As much as Drake may annoy some fans with his sideline activity, it appears that the athletes themselves take it in stride, and in some cases even appreciate it. Drake and the stars of opposing teams may talk trash to each other, but there also seems to be a healthy mutual respect in most cases. Drake, after all, had to wear an armband during the Raptors’ finals series against the Golden State Warriors just to cover up tattoos he has of the Warriors’ stars’ numbers! This speaks to the idea that while he’s a Raptors ambassador first, Drake is also a massive NBA fan, and perhaps the single most important person in the strong link between the league and the hip-hop industry. The mutual respect showed on various occasions in these finals, such as when Drake – on air at a watch party in Toronto during the clinching game in Oakland – stood and applauded when Warriors star Klay Thompson got back on his feet after an injury. It showed, too, when Stephen Curry – the face of the Warriors and one of those whose number is permanently inked on Drake’s arm – called the rap star to congratulate him after the Raptors’ win

The Chance It’s Not Over

Even as it was happening, the Raptor’s title run had a lightning-in-a-bottle feel to it, as if it was finally happening, but would only happen once. Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors’ best player, was a one-year “rental” who’s now free to sign elsewhere (with many in the league having long assumed he’ll do just that). Key contributors like Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are probably past their primes already. That said, there’s now a chance this isn’t over, and that the Raptors will have a multi-year run atop the league – which would mean that much more attention on Drake. It’s hard to say as we enter a summer of free agency and trades, but keep an eye on the sports betting platforms online in Canada for updated odds once all the movement is done. The Warriors are ravaged by injuries that will affect them next season, various teams are expected to make big moves, and Leonard could stay in Toronto. That’s all to say the Raptors might just run it back, which would mean this whole Drake saga has more chapters.

Directly Capitalizing

We should also mention briefly that Drake is directly capitalizing on the fact that he’s even more in the spotlight than usual, and his team pulled off a championship. The rapper instantly announced two new songs in celebration of the Toronto title.

All in all, it’s hard to say this did anything but boost Drake’s reputation. While a lot of people have had enough of his impact on games, we’re guessing his fans weren’t among this crowd anyway. And beyond the annoying side of things, Drake got what he wanted, might not be done, and even has new music to show for it. All of this, plus the fact that – most importantly – the players themselves have shown him that he’s welcome, adds up to a win for Drake.