Tonight's NBA Draft will make a handful of young men into instant millionaires and household names in their new teams' cities. The basketball contract is merely the beginning, as there will be endorsement deals, commercial acting, clothing lines and — if they're especially ambitious — an attempted rap career. The NBA is littered on all sides with players who dabbled in the hip-hop game, but the ratio of attempts to success is way off-kilter. Save for the platinum status of Shaquille O'Neal's Shaq Diesel, most of attempts at rap have ended in sadness. To wit:
» Kobe Bryant: He just won his fourth championship and is a former MVP, but his rhyming skills left a lot to be desired. He cut one track called "K.O.B.E." that featured Tyra Banks and that he performed on NBA TV and dropped in on a few cuts with 50 Cent and Beanie Sigel (all around 2000), but couldn't get his hip-hop career going.
» Tony Parker: The San Antonio Spurs guard put out a French-language rap album called TP in 2007 (Parker is originally from Belgium). Apparently he's not a bad MC, but since we don't speak French, we have to assume he's just reciting pie recipes or talking about kittens.
» Chris Webber: The former Fab Five member put out an album under his "C. Webb" moniker in 1999. Though the Kurupt-assisted single "Gangsta! Gangsta! (How U Do It)" got a bit of airplay, Webber's skills left a lot to be desired. Perhaps he should have just become a producer — Webber sat behind the boards for Nas' "Blunt Ashes" (from 2006's Hip-Hop Is Dead), which is a surprisingly tight production.
» Ron Artest: What better way to fill your time while serving a suspension for attacking a fan than releasing a hip-hop record? That's exactly what Artest did in 2006, when he dropped My World, which is actually a much better album than it has any right to be (that being said, it's still not very good). Though Artest was a headline-grabbing, controversial figure, the album only moved a few hundred units.
Taking a look at this year's draft crop (largely considered to be the weakest group in years), there aren't any obvious choices for the next great basketball rap star. Presumptive top pick Blake Griffin doesn't seem like the rhyme-spitting type, nor does former UConn star Hasheem Thabeet or Spanish import Ricky Rubio. Jrue Holliday seems like he might have the appropriate swagger, and his time spent at UCLA might have made him some industry connections. But if we were betting folks (and we are), we'd drop a couple of bucks on Stephen Curry, who seems to have the appropriate trash talking streak and consistent skill set (for some reason, a lot of the aspiring NBA rappers are speedy, penetrating guards).