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We Imagined Jay Z, Drake, Kanye And More As NBA Stars

In honor of All-Star Weekend.

Rappers and basketball players.

Oftentimes, they're friends. Sometimes, they collaborate. Others, just shout each other out. And almost without fail, they want to do what the other one does professionally.

Sports Illustrated had a whole issue about it. As Rick Ross put it plainly on his "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" freestyle, "Rappers wanna be ballers, ballers wanna be rappers."

So as the NBA All-Star Game descends upon New York City this weekend, we decided to have some fun with a few rappers' NBA equivalents.

  • Jay Z is Kobe Bryant
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    On "Show Me What You Got," Hov boasted, "I am Michael Jordan of recording." It's one of the many times he's made the comparison, and though it's apt, it's not what we're going with here. MJ is retired, and Jigga is still active, so it's only right that he's the next best thing: Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba has been plagued by injuries in recent years, but that doesn't take away from what he's accomplished: Five championships, an MVP award, and a 17-time all-star. It's hard to have a conversation about the GOATs in either realm without these guys.

  • Drake is LeBron James
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    These two have been anointed by many as the heir apparent in their respective fields, and you can't talk about who's running the game without mentioning them. After making an instant splash -- Drizzy, with So Far Gone, and LeBron, earning the nickname The Chosen One way back in high school -- it took a little while for them hit the full level of winning that they're capable of. For Drake, the singles came early and often, but it wasn't until his sophomore album, Take Care, that he was able to drop an album that ; with Bron, he was taking home awards -- from all-stars to Rookie of the Year to MVP -- early and often, but it took until 2011 for him to grab his first championship. Neither have looked back since.

  • Kendrick Lamar is Kevin Durant
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    In the immortal words of Kendrick..."Hol' up!" Aubrey and Bron may have immediately been the hottest during their rookie years, and, sure, they've only continued to improve in the time since, but these two are here to say, "We're comin' for ya." After putting in work in college, KD took the league by storm in his first year, won the MVP last year, and likely could have won a championship by now were it not for unfortunate injuries. After putting in work on the mixtape circuit; K. Dot dropped a classic major label debut, threw the game on its head with "Control," and has people fiending for his new album. Durant and LeBron's rivalry seems a little more friendly than Kendrick and Drake's, though.

  • Kanye West is Russell Westbrook
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    As you may have noticed, Kanye speaks his mind -- and plenty of people go after him for doing it. Russ is the same way -- he recently told a reporter, "I just don't like you" in a post-game interview. But it's not just that. The way he plays -- with a reckless abandon, not compromising his game in the way critics suggest he should because he's playing next to someone as great as Durant -- that reminds of Yeezy's musical output and media appearances. Plus, they each ride next to one of the best -- Jay for Kanye, and KD for Russ -- but have proven that they're no one's second fiddle.

  • DJ Mustard is Chris Paul
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    It's all about the assists with these dudes -- no State Farm. CP3 has been setting teammates up for a decade now, the conductor of the Los Angeles Clippers' Lob City show. Paul has been able to make those around him look better than the are when placed in other situations, and it's benefitted multiple careers. When Mustard's on the beat, he makes a hit possible for damn near anyone, it seems. Many have tried before and after teaming with the beat-making giant, and rarely the same.

  • Chris Brown is Kyle Korver
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    We all know that Breezy is a musical monster on his own, but when put on a team, he's usually the cog that makes everything gel together. How many rap hits surely wouldn't have enjoyed the same levels of success and exposure without his breezy, catchy hooks? Too many to count. Like CB, Korver is a specialist whose abilities make everything around him run smoothly. His deadly shooting opens up the floor for his Atlanta Hawks teammates, and it's one of the main reasons he's an all-star this year.

  • Nas is Tim Duncan
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    These two may not get celebrated in the mainstream in the same way that their counterparts, Jay and Kobe, respectively, do -- but true heads know they've each been reliable for over a decade-and-half. And not just reliable. They've each been in the mix as the best at what they do -- not just currently, but all-time -- all the time. And if there were ever examples of aging gracefully, these two would be them: Drafted in 1997, Duncan won his fifth championship last year, and he made his 15th all-star team this weekend. Esco, meanwhile, put out the mature and lyrically superb Life is Good in 2012, almost 20 years after dropping his classic debut, Illmatic.

  • Wale is Damian Lillard
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    If you deny the talent that these guys have, you're probably not listening or watching closely enough. Folarin remains one of hip-hop's most creative MCs, crafting songs built on thoughtful metaphors, dropping thematic mixtapes, and kicking some of the meanest punchlines around (particularly sports-related ones). But he may be one of the most hated-on rappers, too -- or, at least it feels that way based on his Twitter spats. Lillard has one of the most dangerous games in the L, with an ability to beat you off the dribble or drain a triple in your eye (probably at the buzzer). But he was barely recruited out of high school, and initially wasn't named an all-star this year despite playing like one of the NBA's best so far this season. Thanks to some injuries, Dame got his due, and will be suiting up on Sunday; with the upcoming The Album About Nothing, Wale may finally silence the haters, too.

  • Lil Wayne is Steph Curry
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    Drake may be Steph Curry with the shot, but Weezy is Steph Curry with the mic. Both their styles are fluid and free-flowing -- Steph might pull up from three or cross you and then dish it to the wing, depending on the situation; Tunechi stream-of-consciousness rhyming is about a free as it gets.

  • Iggy Azalea is Nick Young
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    Iggy! Swaggy P! I donno what else to say.

  • Chance the Rapper is Kent Bazemore
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    These dudes just look alike, and I've always enjoyed that.