NBA commissioner says Drake went over the line in touching coach during game

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates defeating the Indiana Pacers in NBA basketball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says Drake crossed the line when he treated Toronto coach Nick Nurse to a brief shoulder rub in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.

“Certainly we don’t want fans _ friend or foe _ contacting an NBA coach during a game,” Silver said Thursday evening when asked about Drake’s behaviour during games.

Even though Nurse said he hadn’t even noticed the shoulder rub, Silver said “those can lead to dangerous situations.

“When you’re in the middle of coaching a game and you’re completely focused, you obviously don’t want somebody who’s not on your team touching you,” he told a news conference prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Golden State Warriors.

But Silver handled the matter diplomatically, saying the league appreciated Drake’s “super-fan status and I know he’s beloved in the community of Toronto.”

“We understood that in this case, given Drake’s relationship to the team, it’s not the same as just any fan who happened to be courtside touching a coach,” Silver added. “But I think that’s an absolute bright line that we have to draw. So that’s one example and I would also say that I think the issue for the league is that he has this ambassador-type role with the team. So he is viewed a little differently than any fan sitting there.

“But at the same time I think there are appropriate lines that shouldn’t be cross in terms of how a competing team is addressed or the officials for that matter.”

Silver said the league office “had conversations directly with Drake and his manager and I think we ended up in a good place.”

Drake was front and centre again Thursday, sitting in his courtside perch ahead of tip-off. He was wearing a Dell Curry No. 30 Raptors shirt, in honour of the father of Golden State star Steph Curry.

The league also got involved during last season’s playoffs when Drake got into a jawing match with then-Cleveland Cavaliers Kendrick Perkins. Security had to step in on that occasion.

Drake’s behaviour in Game 4 against the Bucks was criticized by Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer.

“There’s certainly no place (on the court) for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors,” Budenholzer told reporters during the series.

“There’s boundaries and lines for a reason,” he added

Drake stuck to his space for Game 6 of the Bucks series but celebrated on the court afterwards with players and team officials.

The team’s global ambassador casts a long shadow, with 38.2 million followers on Twitter.