Lil Wayne is a 'lil hurt these days.
Controversial statements about his treatment in Oklahoma City during the NBA playoffs is drawing national attention and possibly making the top-selling rap artist the man most hated by Thunder fans since Metta World Peace tried to separate James Harden from his head.
Lil Wayne was a no-show for Thursday night's game 2. But fallout from his negative comments continued to reverberate around the arena and the country.
NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein, who sat two seats away from the rapper Tuesday night, said he was shocked by Lil Wayne's harsh judgment of the arena and city.
“I couldn't believe that,” Goldstein said shortly before the start of Thursday night's Game 2. “I get such great treatment (here). Better than any other arena.”
Tyree Ballard, a self-described Lil Wayne fan seated near midcourt, also took exception to the rapper's criticism.
“I think he overreacted,'' said Ballard 31, of Moore.
His wife, Janelle Ballard, 33, called the rapper's actions childish.
“He's not from Oklahoma. He has no ties to Oklahoma. And then he's going to cry about not sitting on the floor?” she said.
The ongoing drama involving Lil Wayne, real name — Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. — began late last month when he was denied a front-row seat for Game 3 of the Thunder-Spurs series at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After learning he would not be attending the game, the 29-year-old Grammy winner took to the Twitterverse sending a message to his 7.1 million followers shortly before tipoff.
“Was going to go to the Thunder game tonight but was denied by the team to be in their arena. Wow. (Shaking my head), Go Spurs!”
Team officials were quick to roll out an explanation for the lack of red carpet treatment offered to one of hip-hop's biggest stars.
Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney told the Associated Press that a representative of Lil Wayne had requested tickets but insisted that they be front row. No such tickets were available, but Mahoney said the team offered to accommodate Lil Wayne elsewhere in the arena. Team officials pointed out that the Thunder sold out every regular season and playoff home game this season. The team might offer a courtside seat to a celebrity or VIP if available. But this is the playoffs. No tickets are to be had, Mahoney said.
“We'd love to have him at a game, but like anyone else, he needs a ticket,” Mahoney said.
According to ESPN.com, that prompted another response from Lil Wayne who wrote a text message to one of their reporters saying, “They denied me the tix. Didn't want me in their arena. They also said if I do come, I can only sit behind the bench, not on the floor & that I wouldn't be able to get any special escort nor entrance. They said it's the ‘Oklahoma way'.”
The following day, Thunder players got involved. Both Harden and Kevin Durant posted tweets offering the rapper courtside tickets to another game.
“Come to the Next game. We got seats for u 5! Whoopppp,'' Harden posted
In an interview, Durant said the Thunder could use the star power Lil Wayne would bring to the arena — kind of like what Jack Nicholson provides for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We need people like that around here,” Durant told USA Today.
Still, rumors about why Lil Wayne was turned away persisted.
Blogs simmered with gossip of purported sore feelings due to Harden's involvement with the rapper Trina — who also has dated Lil Wayne.
“I would have no idea about that,” spokesman Mahoney said.
Despite the team's denials and the players' ticket offers, Lil Wayne wasn't in a forgiving mood. He gave more interviews in which he hinted of racism and feeling unwanted in Oklahoma City.
“It's the players stepping up but of course the players aren't white. I don't want to be sitting there on behalf of you and I'm sitting next to a (person) that's like `I don't want this (guy) sitting next to me.' (Forget) you … I'm in Forbes,” Lil Wayne told the AP, laughing.
On Tuesday, all seemed forgiven when Lil Wayne bought his own ticket and took a courtside seat opposite the Heat bench for Game 1 of the Finals. He posed for some photos while security blocked others with cameras from getting too close.
But the megastar wasted no time heating up the hatred after the game.
“Again I was treated like s--- by the Thunder staff” the rapper complained on his Twitter account early Wednesday morning. He offered no other details but vowed to root for Miami.
Lil Wayne did not respond to a tweet or a call to his management from The Oklahoman seeking comment.
Mahoney, the team spokesman declined to comment on the rapper's latest salvos.
But some Thunder fans gathered outside the arena Thursday afternoon weren't so reticent.
“I think he's expecting treatment he's not entitled to,'' said Myra Cheadle of Midwest City. “It's not about Lil Wayne. It's about the Thunder. He should just come and enjoy the game and his celebrity status, as such as it is.”
Her son, Eddie Cheadle, 16, who doesn't have a ticket to any playoff game, agreed.
“Stop complaining,'' he advised.
Bryant Andrews, 26, of south Oklahoma City, suggested Lil Wayne must think Oklahoma City is Miami.
“Here, everybody gets treated equally.”
Asked if he thought race played a factor in Lil Wayne's treatment, Andrews, who is black, said, “Not even close.”
“If Lil Wayne would have offered to buy a ticket, he would have got them,” Andrews said. “He's just trying to get attention.”
It's unclear how the Heat may feel about Lil Wayne's newfound allegiance.
In a January 2011 Rolling Stone article, the rapper spoke about feeling slighted at a New Orleans Hornet game. Why? Miami players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't acknowledge him. Apparently, he's over it.