Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, but Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer deserves, at the very least, to have the full quotes being used to make him look like the old out-of-touch man shaking his fist at a cloud as the world passes him by put in print.
Question: There was a report online that Giannis’ agency Tweeted out something about the crowd control in Toronto, Drake, etc. Are you aware, or have you initiated any discussion with your management about speaking to the league about addressing that problem up there?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No. I’m not aware. I haven’t checked in with our organization. I do think there’s a lot of things that coaches have got to do, and there’s others things, Jon Horst and the front office and those guys, they are on top of all that kind of stuff. They do a really good job for us, and I think if it needs to be addressed from an organizational standpoint, it will be and they will share it with me. But as of now, there’s nothing for me, there’s nothing I know of from our organization.
And certainly the fans and owners and employees, and there’s so many lines; I guess Drake crosses all of them and ticks a lot of boxes. The NBA is usually on top of that stuff.
Question: You don’t think there’s anything out-of-bounds developing up there; the idea being the celebrity fan is being given special treatment, special privilege, in terms of encroaching on the court?
MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No, I mean, I will say, again, I see it in some timeouts, but I don’t know of any person that’s attending the game that isn’t a participant in the game a coach — I’m sorry, a player or a coach, that has access to the court. I don’t know how much he’s on the court. It sounds like you guys are saying it’s more than I realize. There’s certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors. You know, to be on the court, there’s boundaries and lines for a reason, and like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that.
Coach Bud is treading that line of complaining, but not directly saying Drake is necessarily doing anything wrong because he doesn’t want to be seen as the “old man shaking his fist at a cloud” and a whole lot of the media following this story should have been taking notes. As much as Drake’s actions would have been shocking 20 years ago, today, he’s just a big time celebrity who’s engaged and having fun. No one is even suggesting Drake has said or done anything derogatory or dangerous and that has become the standard all fans are expected to live by these days.
It’s pretty easy to create controversy and somewhat exciting panel discussions by grabbing clips of Drake cheering on his Raptors and clowning the opposition together with parsed quotes from coach Bud.
Budenholzer did say,
“there’s so many lines; I guess Drake crosses all of them and ticks a lot of boxes.”
“I don’t know of any person that’s attending the game that isn’t a participant in the game a coach — I’m sorry, a player or a coach, that has access to the court.”
“There’s certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors. You know, to be on the court, there’s boundaries and lines for a reason,”
Budenholzer has been in the NBA a very long time. He’s well aware of the trend towards super fans, celebrity involvement and all that goes with it and he isn’t blind.
Raptors fans couldn’t help but notice the 76ers “superfan” who was “sitting” courtside and jumping up and towel waving on the court at every opportunity to cheer his team and try to get the attention the Raptors players. No was throwing him out of the building… as much as the fans sitting around this guy undoubtedly wished someone would.
Coach Bud did try to leave himself some standard “outs” in his response to these questions … no Budenholzer didn’t just say these things out of the blue.
“The NBA is usually on top of that stuff.”
“I don’t know how much he’s on the court. It sounds like you guys are saying it’s more than I realize.”
“like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that.”
Reality is the NBA wants superfans and celebrities to be as active and noticeable as possible… without of course crossing the line into becoming derogatory or dangerous or even just unwelcome encroachments into areas reserved for players and coaches. But if you are going to let fans sit literally right beside and behind the team’s bench, you can’t expect them to not high-five, hug or even back-rub those right in front or beside them if no one is objecting, especially if they are a big time celebrity who the players like.
Shake your fist at that cloud all you want.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at Scotiabank Arena and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.