Welcome to the Weekend Read. This week we delve into Drake's antics during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, dig up a photo from the Toronto Raptors' early days and pick out our favorite stories of the week. Enjoy.
• Olivia Moultrie gave up a UNC scholarship to turn pro—at 13. Is she the grand experiment that American women’s soccer needs right now? (By Chris Ballard)
• The 16-game player: Why Draymond Green thrives in the NBA playoffs. (By Rob Mahoney)
• Bart Starr was nearly cast aside by football, but with tireless study and the support of a legendary coach became one of the most successful QBs in NFL history. (By Tim Layden)
• Throwback: Listen to the fourth episode of our podcast series on the first-ever Women's World Cup. (By Grant Wahl)
• In challenging the established orders in her sport and her country, Megan Rapinoe brought new challenges upon herself—and she raised not only her voice but her game. (By Jenny Vrentas)
• Cody Bellinger’s most impressive feat this season? Making batting average cool again. (By Tom Verducci)
• What would a team of the NFL’s slowest players (when it comes to 40-yard dash times) look like? (By Andy Benoit)
Welcome to the Finals, Drake
I used to firmly believe that the best way to troll someone was to call them by a name that sounds a lot like theirs but is incorrect. For example: If I were to tell you a bad joke, you could respond by saying, “Good one, Charlene,” and it would be a highly effective way of conveying your disdain. Wrong names are the verbal equivalent of a savage eye-roll.
But after Thursday night, I’ve changed my mind. The best way to troll people is to wear their dad’s clothes in front of them. I didn’t come up with this—Drake did. The Canadian rapper showed up to his courtside seats for Game 1 of the NBA Finals wearing a Dell Curry Raptors jersey. Dell is the father of Steph Curry, and Steph (in case you’ve been living on another planet) plays for the Golden State Warriors, the team that Drake’s beloved Raptors have to beat if they’re going to bring an NBA Championship home. Dell played for Toronto during the last three seasons of his NBA career. Drake knew Dell and Steph would both see his outfit.
There are levels so many layers to this troll that I have to respect it. In fact, I might try it out as a way to rattle my enemies the next time I know I’m going to come face to face with them. I just need to track down their dads first.
But there’s one problem here. Drake is Drake. Nothing Drake does is inherently cool, especially when it comes to sports. He’s famously fickle, the fairest of weather fans, and is known for cursing the teams he roots for. When he hops on a bandwagon, the wheels usually come off.
Okay, I lied. There’s more than one problem, and here’s another: Drake is friends with the Warriors! In order to troll Steph, Drake first had to cover up the tattoo of Steph’s number that’s permanently etched onto his arm. Drake has publicly supported Golden State in the past, and yet at the end of the game, he got up in Draymond Green’s face and told him he was “trash.” Even the chyron that ESPN ran when Drake showed up to the game was skeptical. It read: “Will Drake be able to control himself in Finals debut?”
That’s an all-timer, folks. You know things are bad when the Worldwide Leader is publicly wondering you’ll be able to control yourself as a fan at a sports game.
It was a valid question, though. And it was also the kind of attention I’d imagine Drake wants at this point, given that he’s been really into making himself a storyline during these playoffs. He roamed the sidelines during Toronto’s series against the Bucks, going so far as to touch Raptors coach Nick Nurse during one of the games. He’s inserted himself into the narrative to the point where he’s making headlines as often as the players themselves.
But Drake isn’t just going to go away anytime soon. He’s entrenched in this series. So allow me to offer a solution: People need to start giving him a taste of his own medicine. I hope Dell shows up to Game 2 wearing one of Drake’s famous outfits. Say, that puffy orange coat and big gray sweater that he wore in the music video for Hotline Bling. Or a jersey that says Degrassi High on the front and Brooks on the back in homage to the fictional high school Drake attended when he played Jimmy Brooks on the TV show Degrassi. The only way to fight fire is, in this case, with more fire. Sure, ignoring Drake altogether would be the most effective and classiest move, but lighting a match is always way more fun. And after all, it’s the NBA we’re talking about. Petty is the crown.
Vault Photo of the Week: A Young Raptor
As the Raptors battle the Warriors in their first NBA Finals appearance, let's roll it back to the early days of the franchise. It really wasn't that long ago. The Raptors debuted in 1995 and actually won their first game, 94-79, against the New Jersey Nets. Things didn't go so well from there. The photo above of the young Raptors fan donning a foam dinosaur was taken during Toronto's second home game, right as the team sunk into a seven-game losing streak. The Raptors finished their first season 21-60, but hey, they did beat Michael Jordan's 71-10 Bulls team.
Photo taken by SI's Manny Millan on November 8, 1995.
Best of the Rest
Editor's note: Below are some of our favorite stories of the week not published by SI. This week's list is curated by Charlotte Wilder.
• Mina Kimes at ESPN wrote about Mal Pugh, an up-and-coming US soccer star you’re going to be seeing a lot of at the World Cup this summer.
• I loved Emily Kaplan’s story on Russian hockey player Vladimir Tarasenko’s life in St. Louis. While the piece is from 2017, it’s relevant with the Blues are in the hunt for the Cup.
• This New York Times story from Karen Zraick and Derrick Bryson Taylor, about the many recent deaths on Everest as the mountain gets overcrowded with climbers, is deeply sad. I also found this story, about how climate change is affecting the climb, via Bhadra Sharma and Kai Schultz, equally grim but fascinating.
• Baxter Holmes did a deep dive into how the Lakers fell apart. It’s very thorough; check it over at ESPN.
• Frances Tiafoe is a really exciting young American tennis player who Zach Baron profiled for GQ.
• This is a worrisome one if you’re a sportswriter in the US: For the Ringer, Bryan Curtis looked at how UK soccer teams are restricting access, and what that means for members of the media. Here’s hoping that’s not the reality we’re heading toward here!
• Have a great weekend, folks. Get outside, read a book, stop looking at the internet (unless it’s to read stories on SI.Com), and track down your enemies’ dads. You never know when you’ll need one of their old shirts.
Editor's note: What kind of stories and content would you like to see in the Weekend Read? Let's chat at SIWeekendRead@gmail.com.