Hip Hop Ballers

In one of my recent blogs, NBA Talk, I shared some predictions about teams and players that will surprise the basketball world this season. This time, NBA Talk is going to go in a different direction. How many times have you seen a famous rapper in his prime make it into the NBA? Or how about this thought, how many times have you seen an NBA player in his prime become a respected musician? (Okay aside from Shaq Diesel and Allen Iverson aka Jewelz)

I have never seen a famous rapper become an NBA player (even though J.Cole proved he could ball with the stars) But the list is getting longer for the number of NBA players who are now testing the waters of rap music. Hip-Hop and the NBA have always had a close relationship like two brothers. There are a few things that these brothers of culture have in common. Both have the purpose of entertaining large amounts of people, if they’re talented and lucky enough, a player will get paid more in one year than some people will make in a life-time, and all it takes is one mindless mistake from a player or a rapper, and either of them can end up on the front page of the tabloids. At the core, beyond the ball or the lyrics, these industries are very similar.

So why the recent change? Why are basketball stars such as Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers, or Iman Shumpert of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and even rookie Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers, forging this new path into the music world? Oh, you didn’t know these guys were also rappers? Check out Damien Lillard, Lonzo Ball, and Iman Shumpert going in with their rap respective rap songs. 

But again, why the flourishing of talented individuals trying to excel in multiple industries? Simple: its the Millennial mentality.

For some time now, I have been hearing negative comments about my generation: the Millennials. For instance, one common misconception I have heard is that millennials don’t want to work hard and they want everything handed to them. To some extent, and for some millennials, this is true. However, the biggest factor that plays into the so-called lack of effort by millennials is that there have never been so much possibilities for an individual until now. With all the technological improvements, including the rise of social media and the ability to get your voice out into the world, it is hard to pick one thing and do that for a lifetime. Our parents and grandparents had few options to pick from when it came down to choosing something meaningful to  do with their lives. Now, the possibilities are endless.

With that in mind, it is easier to understand why basketball players don’t stick to the hardwood floor. I can assume that most of them grew up listening to the same rappers who are courtside at some of their games. I’m pretty sure that some of them stood in front of the mirror reciting lyrics from their favorite songs. Therefore, it is not hard to believe that they may have had a dream of doing something musically even though they were basketball stars.

There are rappers in the music industry who spent years trying to be recognized by the world. NBA players who become rappers don’t have to go through those struggles; people just have to look on the back of their Jerseys to know their names. Basketball is now something that can open the door to something even bigger.

So, to the people who talk bad about millennials, I hope they realize that we are the most versatile generation to ever walk the planet. Furthermore, we can’t be confined to one particular thing. I hope that more basketball players not only become rappers, but also doctors, teachers, and politicians. In the words of Lecrae, “The sky ain’t the limit, it’s a limitation.”

Kevin Steele