The “Drake Curse” is the uncanny, cosmic-seeming phenomenon you may have heard about in which Canadian rapper and pop culture omnipresence Drake roots for a professional sporting entity (team and/or individual) and they, regardless of circumstance, inevitably lose. I am no scientist. I am merely a humble journalist working to document truths. And the truth is: If you have any interest in winning the thing, you should keep Aubrey Drake Graham as far away from your team/athlete/life as humanly possible.
Ahead of Drake’s beloved Toronto Raptors’ pivotal Game 5 showdown with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of every time the “Drake Curse” has struck.
To find the curse’s origin, we must trip all the way back to 2015. That year one of the greatest professional athletes of all time, Serena Williams, was having one of the greatest professional athletic years of all time. The 34-year-old was en route to winning all four of the year’s Grand Slam tournaments, a feat that only two women in history had ever accomplished before her. In January, she handily defeated rival Maria Sharapova in the final of the Australian Open. In June, she ran through the competition at the French Open. By the time Williams raised the trophy at Wimbledon in July, after only dropping two sets the entire tournament, her victory at the US Open at the end of the summer was all but a foregone conclusion.
The tennis star was first spotted canoodling with the Canadian rapper that summer. Heading into the US Open rumors of the pair being an item were swirling. As he is want to do, Drake very much leaned into those rumors (see above tweet). Naturally, Drake was in attendance at the US Open for Williams’s semi-final match against 300-1 underdog Roberta Vinci. Improbably, Williams lost that much. Thus, ending her historic Grand Slam streak and birthing the Drake curse.
Johnny Manziel and Andrew Wiggins
Concurrent with Drake’s spiking of Serena’s 2015 Grand Slam hopes was a pair of quieter, slower-burning curses. In the spring of 2014, Drake released a song titled “Draft Day.” On its chorus he raps, “Draft day, Johnny Manziel / Five years later how am I the man still / Draft day, A. Wiggins / Fuck that other side b*tch we stay winnin’.” The song’s Soundcloud artwork features a black-and-white photo of aforementioned Manziel flanked by two women, each of whom appears to be just wearing their bras and are giving a grinning Manziel a kiss on each cheek.
At the time of the song’s release, Manziel was a college football sensation. His logic-defying displays of athleticism and unconventional playing style as the quarterback for Texas A&M University made him a highly-touted and very controversial NFL Draft prospect.
The chorus’s other protagonist, Canadian basketball player Andrew Wiggins, had just finished a stellar freshman year at Kansas University and was preparing to enter the NBA Draft.
Since the song’s release, both athletes’ careers have taken unexpected turns for the worse. Wiggins came out of the gate strong. After being drafted as the No. 1 overall pick, the 6’ 8” forward went on to play in all 82 of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ games, posted an impressive 16.9 points per a game, and was named the NBA’s Rookie Of The Year. Since then, however, the 6’8” forward hasn’t quite lived up to fans’ monumental expectations of him. His struggling T’Wolves have only made the playoffs once in his tenure there.
Perhaps because of his closer tie to Drake (around the time of the song’s release, the young quarterback was spotted hanging out with the rapper on various occasions and even got the insignia for Drake’s OVO crew tattooed on his wrist), Manziel’s fall from grace was far more swift. The Texas-native was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. After two seasons of sporadic playing time, subpar performance, and a slew of off-the-field issues, the 24-year-old player was let go by the team in 2016. He hasn’t played in the NFL since.
The Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball Team
Drake’s enthusiasm for the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team has subtly been one of his most enduring allegiances. The multi-platinum-selling recording artist has been around the program since as early as 2012. Over the years, he’s been invited into the locker room after big wins, coached the program’s alumni game, and has even participated in on-court warmups with the team.
However, the Wildcats men’s basketball team, a program that for a period of the late ‘00s and early ‘10s was one of the most consistently dominant in college sports, has not won a National Championship since 2012, the year the Six God was first spotted wearing Kentucky blue.
The Golden State Warriors
The irony of Drake’s highly-publicized antagonistic behavior towards various members of the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals is that the 32-year-old rapper’s love of the league’s reigning champions is well-documented.
In his 2014 single “0-100/The Catch Up,” he famously gave both Steph Curry and his cooking show host wife Ayesha a shout out. “I been Steph Curry with the shot / Been cookin’ with the sauce, chef, curry with the pot, boy.”
Drake also loves him some Kevin Durant. The rapper and 2014 NBA MVP have been seen playfully teasing one another before and after games on a number of occasions and by all indications seem to be actual friends. All but confirming the closeness of this relationship was a discovery made by Clippers beat writer Jovan Buha. In an Instagram post from last year, Buha spotted a tattoo on the rapper’s arm that appears to be Durant’s number “35” printed in the Warriors’ jersey font as well as the word “Snipe,” believed to be a reference to Durant’s old Instagram handle “@easymoneysniper.”
But, this is Drake and where his fickle sports fealty goes, the curse follows. In 2016, the rapper supposedly bet his friend French Montana $60,000 that the highly-favored Warriors would defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in that year’s NBA Finals. Golden State had won a record-breaking 73 regular season games that year, and had jumped out to a commanding 3-1 lead in their best of seven series with the Cavs. What followed, of course, was possibly the most unlikely comeback in NBA Finals history as the LeBron-led Cavaliers stormed back to win three straight games and defeat the Warriors 4-3.
The Drake curses have increased in frequency in recent years. It’s almost as if the more self aware the rapper has tried to be about his toxic fandom, the more toxic it has become.
On October 6, 2018, the day before his lightweight bout with Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, Irish UFC star Conor McGregor posted a photo to Instagram with the caption “The 6 God and the 12 animal!” In the photo, pictured next to McGregor, is a scowling Drake with an Irish flag draped parodically around his shoulders.
McGregor lost the fight in a fourth round submission. His coach has since vowed to roundhouse kick the rapper if he tries to fraternize with McGregor again.
The Alabama Crimson Tide
Just a few months later, the sports dementor emerged yet again. This time he was wearing a University Of Alabama hoodie.
Nick Saban’s top-ranked Crimson Tide were making their fourth appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game in five years, and we’re looking to extend the program’s dynasty by winning its seventh national title in a decade.
Less than a week before their showdown with frequent nemesis Clemson University, the Alabama football official Twitter account tweeted a video of Drake. The Canadian former-child actor who has never played collegiate or professional athletics had a special nugget of advice for the most talented group of college football players in recent memory. “You gotta go actually do it,” he intoned profoundly and slightly out of breath from the workout he was apparently interrupting to record the video.
Alabama would go on to lose to the second-ranked Clemnson Tigers 44-16. It was the program’s worst defeat in Saban’s 12-year tenure as head coach.
Every Single European Soccer Player
Drake is Canadian, and such, has a unique American-adjacent, but not quite American appeal. As a musician, this allows the “Controlla” singer to leverage his international status as a means of bonding and collaborating with a diverse range of popular non-American artists. As a sports fans, it allows him to pretend he likes soccer.
This year, Drake was really out to convince us. Each week, it seemed, the rapper would pop up in a photo with the star of a different blue chip European soccer club. From Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Malik Sancho to Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero to Paris Saint-Germain’s Layvin Kurzawa – each player who took a photo with musician went on to immediately lose their next match.
Aguero missed a crucial (and eventually decisive) penalty kick in City’s Champions League quarterfinal matchup with Tottenham. After his Drake photo, Kurzawa’s PSG squad closed out their season with a 5-1 loss to league-rival Lille. It was the team’s worst loss in 19 years. Things got so bad that AS Roma (at the time, hoping to qualify for next year’s Champions League) felt compelled to issue this message from their official Twitter account:
Anthony Joshua is the man who most recently dared to laugh in the face of history. Just a few weeks before his heavyweight championship bout with Mexican fighter Andy Ruiz, the heavily-favored British boxer tweeted a photo of himself with four-time Grammy winner. The caption read, “Bout to break the curse #June1st.”
The 29-year-old was TKO’d in the seventh round by the smaller, more rotund Ruiz in front of a packed Madison Square Garden crowd, forfeitting all four of his heavyweight titles.
The Toronto Raptors
This, of course, brings us to Drake’s beloved Toronto Raptors. Since being named the NBA Franchise’s “Global Ambassador” in the fall of 2013, the rapper has been a courtside fixture at Scotiabank Arena. Also since that year, the team has been a fixture in the NBA playoffs. The Raptors have won the the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division five out of the last six years and have consistently been one of the league’s most feared playoff matchups.
After Toronto acquired star forward Kawhi Leonard in the 2018 offseason, it was beginning to appear as if the NBA’s lone Canadian franchise may have found the antidote to La malédiction de Drake. Now, the team finds itself not only in the first NBA Finals in the franchise’s twenty-four-year history, but also with a 3-1 lead on the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Drake willl no doubt be in attendance on Monday night in Toronto as the Raptors seek to capture their first ever NBA Championship. If they’re successful, it may mark the beginning of a new “Post-Curse” sports utopia, where boxing promoters and historic European soccer clubs no longer have to impose photo embargos on a Canadian pop star. It could also trigger some sort of catastrophic rip in the space-time continuum, the consequences of which would be too great for us to even humanly conceive of.
Who’s to say?