There’s always been an obvious connection between the NBA and the world of hip-hop. The music is played in the arenas, the players have it on in their headphones pre game, and the NBA 2k franchise put out a soundtrack that was put together by Jay-Z one year. After years of watching the NBA and after years of wishing the And1 Mixtape Tour would come back to ESPN I’ve noticed that there are some similarities between NBA stars and rappers.
Lebron James (2007 version) and Tupac
Its not just because both LBJ and Pac are considered some of the best in their respective games. But as good as James is, he’s had some pretty pitiful teammates to work with over the years. Remember when James asked the Cavilers front office to give him some help to bring home a championship and they got him an old more-out-of-shape-than-usual version of Shaq? Remember when the second leading scorer on the Cavs was Mo Williams? Remember when Zydrunas Ilgauskas was one of the biggest threats to hit a three pointer on that team? And then he somehow got this weak ass team to the finals…where the Spurs stomped them out like roaches. Likewise, Tupac was one of the most influential and celebrated rappers of all time. He wasn’t the most lyrical rapper but what he said hit home with his audience. The problem was, while you were listening to that dope Tupac album you had to listen to verses from the Outlawz. No one has ever listened to a Tupac verse and said to themselves “Man I can’t wait for this to be over so Kastro and E.D.I Mean can spit me me that real shit.” Similarly, no one watched those Cavalier teams and said,“This team would win more games if Lebron would give Larry Hughes some open looks.” Both these men had to carry teams surrounded by sub par talent and somehow managed to overcome it. Lets just hope that Suge Knight isn’t running the streets out there in Cleavland. That city can’t handle another tragedy, its already bad enough that the only thing they can fall back on is that their not Detroit.
Kent Bazemore and Lil’ John
I don’t know if Lil Jon can actually rap and I don’t know if Kent Bazemore knows how to play basketball. But you know that no matter what happens, they will both get you excited for whatever the fuck is going on. Lil Jon be having me excited for tracks I don’t even like. That Turn Down for What song is annoying as hell to me. But Lil Jon sounds so energetic before the beat drops that it has me thinking that maybe I should get hyped in the club when it comes on. I’m not hating, though. Its real hard for someone to make it in the rap game yelling three words. But the cool thing about Lil Jon and Bazemore is that they both get all this attention while being on the sidelines. At the height of his powers Lil Jon was associated with the Eastise Boyz and other groups like the Ying Yang twins. But his solo career never took off. Similarly Bazemore, will always be more associated for all the cheer leading he does from the bench than actual basketball things. The man’s bench antics were so well known that he got brought into the 2K studios just to put on the motion capture suit so the animations of him being way too excited for one your dunks can make it into the game. Just look at the highlight package of him reacting to highlight plays. Kent Bazemore gets his crew of Benchside Boyz more excited for buckets than anybody else in the arena. He will be needed in LA this year when the Lakers miss the playoffs and Jack Nicholson isn’t around to pump up the crowd.
Kobe Bryant and Jay-Z
These two are linked because as great as they were, I’m not interested in watching them perform anymore. They’ll both be considered legends when they retire but they’re both just so damn old. Kobe has turned into a volume shooter who is not worth his contract on the court anymore and can’t even stay healthy to be worshiped by the sheep herd that is the Laker fan base. Derrick Rose with bad knees is a bad look but he’s still young. Kobe has been in the league for like 35 years and just had his 52nd birthday. Jay-Z ain’t out here breaking his leg every year like Kobe is but Hov was sounding like he limped into the studio when he recorded Magana Carta Holy Grail. Don’t get me wrong, the beats on that album went hard. But Jay-Z didn’t say anything that was nearly as dope as those commercials he did for Samsung before the album dropped. He was making it seem like he was about to come out with a game changer like the first Blueprint. His old ass sounded like he just heard about social media and when he made reference to Twitter I wanted to deactivate my account because I knew it was no longer cool. It was like an old man trying to keep up with the times by saying to his grandkids, “yeah I know about the twitters. Your grandpa be keepin up with the times. Fuck hashtags and retweets. Back in my day we actually did stuff outside instead of playing on our phones. I had 140 characters in the streets.” But the music world gave Jay-Z a pass with that Grammy nomination and most Lakers fans seem more than willing to give Kobe a pass for the fact that he refuses to pass even though he can’t score like he used to. Its hard to say what Kobe will be like when he comes back from his latest shoulder injury but its fair to say he will shoot too much and he will still be mad at practice.
Dirk Nowitzki and Pusha T
There is nothing about the personality of the two men that make them an obvious pairing. One of them is a quiet German immigrant who has been accused of being soft at various points in his career. The other is someone who, if not for his music career, may actually reach back and relapse to wrapping up this raw. But they both have one unstoppable go to move. Nowitzki has the fade away jumper that you cannot defend against and Pusha T has bars about drug dealing that are always fire no matter how predictable they are. Nowitzki’s game isn’t one dimensional. He can get points in the paint and you have to respect his range when he’s beyond the arch. He’s even been good for about eight rebounds a game over the course of his career. But, goddamn that fade away is unaguardable.
He can tell you its coming and your best bet would still be to try to get in the paint and box out in that hopes that he missed the shot.
When I listened to Pusha T’s debut solo album My Name Is My Name, I saw that there were 12 tracks on the record. And I knew that every one of those 12 tracks were gonna teach me something about the dope game. He was gonna talk about how to cook it, how to sell it and how you can’t trust anybody with your money or your product. It was gonna be like an episode of the Wire in music form. I knew the lines about coke, fast cars and gold digging women were coming and I was still impressed by the lyrics. When the single Numbers on the Boards came out and he said: “25 bricks, move work like chore/Hit Delaware twice, needed 25 more” I knew the album was gonna be off the chain. When was the last time you heard anybody in rap reference doing dirt in Delaware? When was the last time anybody mentioned doing anything interesting Delaware at all? I can’t even find Deleware on a map and Pusha went there on two separate occasions with 25 kilos of coke like it was nothing.
I’m pretty sure all Pusha T does is grab his book of rhymes and find new ways to talk about selling drugs. And I’m also pretty sure all Nowitzki does is practice fade away jumpers at shoot arounds. If thats the case Nowitzki can keep hitting that shot and scoring points in the NBA until he’s 50 and Pusha T can stick around long enough to drop records telling us how he’s moving snow at some retirement community.
Tim Dog and Brandon Knight
The first time I saw the video someone told me DeAndre Jordan had killed Brandon Knight with a dunk. “How Bad could it be? Its just a dunk,” I thought to myself as I searched for the highlight on Youtube. I wasn’t even prepared for what I saw next.
Jesus, how the fuck did Knight even survive that? And why was the police response so slow? I know LAPD is real busy using excessive force during routine traffic stops in low income neighborhoods but they could have taken some time off from racial profiling to arrest Jordan for attempted murder.
Look at Chris Paul. His assist makes him an accessory to this crime but I don’t think he knew it would go this far. He’s walking around Knights lifeless body like, “Damn, man I didn’t know you was gonna shoot him. I thought you were just gonna bust a few rounds off and watch him run. You ain’t have to do him like that.”
Check out Matt Barnes in the corner. Ya boy just runs off like he didn’t want to be a witness. That’s a smart move. I ain’t trying to testify against a man with that kind of power in court. Carmelo has been trying to tell ya’ll for years about the dangers of snitching and its good to see a fellow NBA player take his advice.
At the end of the video you even see Jordan with the cold demeanor of a killer. As he walks to the line for his and 1 he has a look on his face that says, “The game be like that sometimes. Either you get down or you lay down.” Meanwhile all the Pistons in the paint look like a community that is trying to regroup after another senseless act of violence has stricken their neighborhood.
And if all that wasn’t enough look at what Kyrie Irving did to this man in rising stars game.
Kenny Smith saying, “Oh no” may be one of my favorite calls in sports history. That was some grade school shit right there. How can a grown man be that off balance? I got shook like that once when I was in 4th grade but I was the awkward tall kid who caught asthma attacks during physical activity at recess so I had an excuse.
Irving and Jordan put together some high light plays that will stick with him forever no matter what he accomplishes from this point forward. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre did the same to Tim Dog. Now, to be fair to Tim Dog “Fuck with Dre Day” wasn’t just directed at him. The song took shots at anybody who was trying to beef with Death Row Records. Eazy E got destroyed in that song but Eazy E had a well respected career and his response to the song was still a hit. But, Tim Dog? Some of you are just hearing about this dude for the first time reading this post. If you search his name, stories about him possibly faking his death show up before his weak response to Dre’s diss. (You should check out that music video and tell me how the song is. After hearing a few weak punchlines and seeing that shirtless brotha who had probably just finished a ten year bid swinging a lantern over his head for no reason I had to turn that shit off.)
Brandon Knight will probably go on to have a nice productive NBA career. But 15 years from now when you and your boys are talking about the best dunks of all time you’ll bring up that time Brandon Knight got destroyed. And when you talk about the worst cases of broken ankles you’ll recall that time
Knight got shook in front of God and everybody at an all star event. And when you want to break down the history behind East Coast-West Coast rap beef you’ll remember that Tim Dog fired off a few rounds in the war and got posterized lyrically by Dre and Snoop.