How much abuse should a professional player be willing to take from a fan?

By March 12, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard

    Kawhi Leonard has urged his Toronto Raptors team-mates to "enjoy the moment" after they moved to within one win of the NBA Finals.

    Leonard starred with a 35-point game on Thursday, as the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals after a 105-99 win at the Fiserv Forum.

    A victory in the sixth game on Saturday would confirm the Raptors' place in the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

    And 2019 All-Star Leonard - an NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 - says the Raptors must embrace the pressure.

    "Experience helps a lot," Leonard told a news conference. "I've been here before, I've been to the finals, it's pretty much nothing new that I'm seeing.

    "You've just got to have fun with it, enjoy it. I told them tonight, when we were down 10, to enjoy the moment and embrace it and have fun and love it, this is why we're here.

    "It's a great opportunity. What you work for in the summer is to win basketball games. 

    "The same mindset through the play-offs is to come in, have fun, try to execute as best as I can. Play confident and whatever happens will happen."

    Leonard did not exert the same authority on proceedings as he has done in earlier matches throughout the series, but came up with a match-winning performance in the fourth quarter.

    Having opened the Raptors' scoring in the final period with two jumpers, Leonard followed up with a pair of three-pointers to nudge his side ahead.

    The 27-year-old also provided nine assists, but insists that he is not a player that aims to dictate the Raptors' play

    "I'm not a guy that really controls the ball the whole game. I just try to give other people the opportunities to shine, and not try to be a dominant ball player," Leonard said.

    "I try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game, trying to read the defence throughout the entire game, see what's working. 

    "I'm not afraid of the moment, I enjoy it. You've just got to go and shoot the ball, that’s my mindset.

    "Get to a spot, help my team win the game. If it's me scoring points or getting my team-mates wide open. I'm just out there trying to win, be aggressive, don't shy away from anything."

  • Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals

    Toronto Raptors superfan Drake said his courtside antics during the Eastern Conference Finals have not been "disrespectful" as he continued to troll the Milwaukee Bucks following Thursday's Game 5.

    The Grammy Award-winning Canadian rapper has become a major storyline during the series, laughing at MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Bucks star missed a free throw and rubbing the shoulders of Toronto head coach Nick Nurse in Game 4.

    Antetokounmpo's former agent Georgios Dimitropoulos tweeted that he had "never seen anything as disrespectful as this before" in a now-deleted post, while Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said there was "no place" for the type of exuberant reactions Drake had been displaying courtside.

    Drake, who is a global ambassador for the Raptors, was watching in Toronto when his team beat the Bucks 105-99 in Milwaukee to take a 3-2 lead in the series, and he defended his antics when speaking to reporters afterwards.

    "We have the best player, we have the best fans in the whole NBA, in the whole world," he said.

    "Look around you, look at this, we created this. This didn't exist before we were here, look around at the square, this didn't exist before we were here, we did this.

    "It doesn't matter what anybody says. They can say it's disrespectful, they can say, it's this, it's that.

    "Everybody's within the rules, everybody's doing their thing. All we are is proud and passionate. We are like a college sports team - the Toronto Raptors are a college sports team, I promise you.

    "I love Toronto, I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals."

    While the 32-year-old was not in Milwaukee, the Bucks' owner's daughter Mallory Edens was sat courtside wearing a t-shirt of Pusha T, a rapper with whom Drake has had a feud with.

    That was clearly noticed by Drake, who changed his Instagram avatar to a picture of Edens after the game.

    He also uploaded a picture of Edens onto his story with the caption "All is fair in war and war and trust me I'll still get you tickets to ovo fest".

  • Antetokounmpo hurt his ankle late in Game 5, says Budenholzer Antetokounmpo hurt his ankle late in Game 5, says Budenholzer

    Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo hurt his ankle during Game 5 against the Toronto Raptors, according to coach Mike Budenholzer.

    Budenholzer told reporters after the game the forward tweaked his ankle on a defensive possession and did not come out in the final minutes of the game to get a breather.

    It appeared Antetokounmpo hurt himself when trying to defend Kawhi Leonard off a rebound in the closing minutes of the Bucks' 105-99 loss.

    He left the court soon after the play and came back in after a possession and a foul on one of his team-mates.

    "He twisted his ankle in the backcourt," Budenholzer said.

    He continued: "And he just looked like he was in a lot of pain and couldn't move and we had an offensive possession, just maybe get somebody out there that can move, make a shot and I think [the pain] kind of wore off or the adrenaline wore off and he was able to go back in."

    The Bucks trail the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 going into Game 6 on Saturday in Toronto.

    Antetokounmpo had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in the loss.

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