The Golden State Warriors are trying very hard not to continue a feud with Rihanna. Kevin Durant says he doesn’t even remember staring her down after she heckled him shooting a free throw. Plus the Golden State star is doing everything he can to not make Rihanna’s preference for LeBron James a narrative in the long gaps between games.
But on Saturday, teammate Stephen Curry admitted that dealing with distractions are part of the game when the stakes get raised. A reporter jokingly asked if Rihanna’s music was taken off the locker room playlist.
“I don’t think it was on there to begin with,” Curry said.
Curry joking about not listening to Rihanna’s music could be perceived as a slight, but it seems more like another attempt for a Golden State player to not make this a story. Problem is, it’s already a significant part of the series narrative. The intersection of celebrity and sports fan is always strange, but we have to talk about it because it really is part of the game now.
“There’s a lot of noteworthy people that show up especially this time of year, the Finals games or whatnot,” Curry said.
“If you have a personal relationship or history with certain people. I saw Kevin Hart on the sideline he’s over there cracking jokes the whole game. Stuff like that you can have fun with, at times, you obviously don’t want to let it distract you. As basketball players, we do a pretty good job of being able to tone out noise and distractions and stuff on the fly when we need to to be able to do what we do on the floor but still enjoy the atmosphere of the stage that we’re on.”
No sport has a greater chance for its audience to interact with its stars more than basketball. Courtside seats put you right there, and when the games are important major stars are among those in the audience.
We’ve seen with Jay-Z and Kevin Hart how these social moments can be manufactured right on the court. But this was real. But NBA players having to put Rihanna out of their mind while she’s courtside is a very real occupational hazard. These celebrity interactions with NBA players are interesting because of the personalities involved, but also because dealing with an important person becomes part of the game.