Hip-hop and sports are practically kindred spirits, especially when it comes to basketball. At this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend , a number of hoop stars, and the wife of one player in particular, wholeheartedly agreed with this observation.
“They always say all rappers want to be basketball players, [and] all basketball players want to be rappers,” La La Vazquez, wife of New York Knick Carmelo Anthony and ex-MTV VJ, told MTV News.
Over the years, a number of NBA players have actually become rappers on the side. Besides four championships — three with the Los Angeles Lakers, one with the Miami Heat — Shaquille O’Neal also managed to release four albums. The first, 1993’s Shaq Diesel, went platinum and the third, 1996’s You Can’t Stop the Reign, featured a pair of verses from the Notorious B.I.G. on its title track. More recently, L.A. Laker Ron Artest has embarked on a rap career, while his teammate Kobe Bryant once kicked rhymes on R&B singer Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me.”
Not every player necessarily has rap dreams to go along with their hoop dreams, though.
“Every player except me wants to be a rapper,” said Dwight Howard of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. “I don’t want to do the rap thing.”
Howard did add though about his fellow NBA stars, “We love music. We love hip-hop and we support it.”
LeBron James, who is famously and charitably good friends with Jay-Z, mentioned how basketball players are frequently name-checked in song. For example, on Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” the MC rhymes, “Jesus paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade.”
This synergy between players and rappers ultimately boils down to mutual respect.
“We all came from nothing,” Boston Celtic Kevin Garnett told us. “The appreciation factor for each other, the fact you gotta grind and work hard to get where you at, it’s similar. It’s a very similar industry.”
Garnett’s teammate and fellow All-Star Rajon Rondo added, “We respect those guys the way they respect us. It kind of goes hand in hand. Rappers love to come see us play. We love to see them perform.”
What do you think of the ongoing love between hip-hop and hoops? Sound off in the comments!