Drake's basketball career had humble beginnings, when he, aka Jimmy Brooks, tried out for the Degrassi High basketball team in eighth grade. In the tryout, he revealed himself to be a promising talent. Spurred by the Ritalin he took immediately beforehand, Brooks delivered an inspired performance, alienating his teammates by refusing to pass the ball. He swished multiple heat checks before draining the game-winner. (Watch at the 18:40 mark below.)
Brooks was an instrumental member of the Degrassi team until he suffered a gunshot wound that paralyzed him from the waist down. Still passionate about basketball, he remained with the team as an assistant coach until he graduated, and even tried out for the wheelchair basketball team. Ultimately, his life-changing injuries caused him to switch his career focus to music.
Drake's affiliation with the University of Kentucky basketball team is undeniably weird and easily explainable -- he is attracted to winners. By finagling his way into the UK inner circle, he gets to experience the life of an athlete. Being an athlete is about more than on-the-court excellence -- it is everything that comes with it, from the sweatsuits to the unconditional adoration of millions. Through years of hard work, Drake has surpassed Ashley Judd as the Wildcat's most famous supporter.
2010: Drake cozies up to 6'11" DeMarcus Cousins during a postgame interview. The first of Drake's many "proud girlfriend moments."
2012: Kentucky gives Drake a custom championship ring, engraved "Drizzy," commemorating their 2012 national championship.
2014 Final Four: Drake pays the squad a visit in the locker room to congratulate them in after their stunning 74-73 win in the national semifinal. He gives daps all around and delivers a quick pep talk to keep the players motivated. "It's your story, it's your time," he tells them.
But it didn't end well for the Wildcats, as they fell to Shabazz Napier and the UConn Huskies 60-54 in the national championship game. A forlorn Drake was in attendance to witness the defeat.
2014 Midnight Madness: Wielding a lint roller, Drake takes the floor with the team at Kentucky's 2014 "Big Blue Madness" kickoff showcase and participates in warmups. He hoisted dozens of jump shots, but history will only remember the air ball.
2015: The day after Meek Mill accuses Drake of employing a ghostwriter on Twitter, the University of Kentucky serves Drake a cease-and-desist letter for taking a photo with recruit Charles Matthews during the aforementioned Big Blue Madness.
2016: Drake earns Kentucky another violation for taking a photo with UK point guard Tyler Ulis at a concert afterparty in Chicago. The 3-minute meet and greet constitutes "preferential treatment." Unclear how this was more severe than Drake's participation in previous Kentucky events.
Drake is of course a massive supporter of his hometown Toronto Raptors, but the Raptors play a role in only a fraction of Drizzy's hijinks in the realm of NBA basketball.
Miami Heat Champagne Sommelier: Drawn to greatness and wanting to show the world why they call him Champagne Papi, Drake attempts to join the Miami Heat in the locker room after they win the 2013 NBA Finals. To his chagrin, he is barred from entry.
Drake manages to join celebration that night at the club, securing a spot with LeBron's left arm draped around his shoulder. Drake and the Heat eat pizza and pop champagne and dance to "Started From The Bottom."
Raptors Brand Ambassador:
In September 2013, Drake joins the Raptors as an official "global ambassador" to help promote the 2016 NBA All-Star-Game in Toronto and redesign the team's image.
Drake's most notable moments as ambassador include doing player introductions at "Drake Night" and causing the Raptors to incur a $25,000 fine from the league for attempting to recruit Kevin Durant to join the team at OVO Fest 2014.
The Spike Lee of Toronto: Whereas rappers like Jay Z likes to sit quietly in his courtside seat with Beyonce and enjoy the action, Drake is more of a Spike Lee, an outspoken celebrity superfan who likes to be a part of the action. Often, he does it without even trying, as when he busted out the lint roller:
Here is Drake sucking up to Kobe Bryant.
Here is Drake giving Raptors coach Dwayne Casey a heart attack.
Drake took with the floor the hyperathletic yet swagless Terrence Ross at the 2014 NBA dunk contest to help him defend his dunking crown. Drizzy even served as a prop for one of Ross' dunks, a soaring East Bay jam.
Drake served as an assistant coach under Magic Johnson during the 2010 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, helping to lead the West to a narrow 41-37 victory over the East. He has since earned a promotion; he will lead Team Canada as head coach against Kevin Hart and Team USA in the 2016 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game. It may seem insignificant, but for Drake, it's another rung on his eternal quest for basketball glory.
Drake will be featured prominently when the NBA All-Star Game hits hometown Toronto this weekend.
They say that rappers want to be athletes and athletes want to be rappers. For no one is this axiom more true than Drake.
Drake loves all sports, but his favorite sport is basketball. He even installed a regulation basketball hoop in the bedroom of his $7.7 million Hidden Hills, CA mansion. He takes basketball very seriously. He is not terrible at basketball, but he is not particularly good either. In lieu of any semblance of basketball talent, Drake seeks to ingratiate himself among the basketball elite. This strategy has produced some embarrassing moments (for Drake). But ultimately these moments are endearing, for we are all Drake, aspiring basketball legends seeking acceptance in the basketball community.
Click through the galleries for a semi-comprehensive look at Drake's relationship to basketball over the years.