Recently, Bleacher Report did one of their slideshows comparing current NBA players with rappers, and as with a lot of the stuff that’s on Bleacher Report, it was complete horsesh*t. Whoever wrote that doesn’t know a damn thing about hip-hop. So, allow me to provide what I think are more accurate comparisons.
Kendrick Lamar – LeBron James
This one is really simple. Both King Kendrick and King James both sit atop the thrones of their respective worlds. The only difference is that LeBron has been the best player in the NBA for a few years while Kendrick just recently shot to the top of the hip-hop world. There's not much else that needs to be said.
Kanye West – Kobe Bryant
There are several parallels between these two, both personally and professionally. Both Kobe and Kanye aren’t always the friendliest people in the world and have been on the bad side of controversies. Kobe had his beef with Shaq and the infamous Eagle, Colorado incident, and Kanye’s outburst have been well documented i.e. George Bush and Taylor Swift. They both had legendary mentors help them get to the top. Kobe had Phil Jackson and Kanye had Jay-Z. But all of that aside, both of them are two of the best ever, and they know it. And even though they’re not the top dogs anymore, with LeBron James replacing Kobe and Kendrick Lamar replacing Kanye, they refuse to fade away and will only go out on their own terms.
2Pac & Biggie – Magic Johnson & Larry Bird
2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. are arguably the two greatest rappers of all time and faced off in the biggest rivalry hip-hop has ever seen. The beef between Pac’s west coast and Biggie’s east coast dominated 90’s hip-hop. Unfortunately the east vs. west rivalry ended up taking both of their lives. Magic and Bird defined the basketball in the 80’s and helped turn the NBA into the billion-dollar juggernaut that it is today. Like Pac and Biggie, Magic and Bird’s legacies will forever be intertwined.
Run-DMC – Julius Erving
Both Run-DMC and Dr. J have probably influenced more people than anyone else in their fields. Run-DMC was the first hip-hop group to crossover and gain mainstream success with both black and white audiences. Several hip-hop legends including Q-Tip and Nas have cited Run as the reason why they got into hip-hop. 10 years earlier, Dr, J was the face of the ABA and later the NBA. His flashy and high-flying style heavily influenced the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Dominique Wilkins. Both Run-DMC and the Doctor were innovators in style as well. Run was known for their Adidas shoes, jumpsuits, and gold rope chains while Dr. J had his own line of Converse shoes and his signature afro.
Eric B. & Rakim – Bill Russell
These guys epitomize the words “old school.” Even though Michael Jordan is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, there are those who would bestow that title upon Bill Russell. It’s hard to argue against 11 championships. Similarly, many fans of golden-era hip-hop will be quick to tell you that Rakim is the greatest MC of all time and that Paid in Full is the greatest album of all time. It’s hard to argue with that, too.
Lil Wayne – J.R. Smith
With all of my personal feelings about Lil Wayne aside, there was a time when Dwayne Carter was considered one of the best in the game. Unfortunately, those days are dead and gone. As the years have gone by, Weezy has been getting worse and worse until the point where his lyrics read like a 1st grade poetry homework assignment. His latest work, I Am Not a Human Being II has made him a shoo-in for Coon of the Decade. While J.R. Smith was never an elite level player in the NBA, he was one of the better bench players in the league a few years back and was a big reason why the Denver Nuggets made it to the western conference finals in 2009. Now, Mr. Smith is making headlines for the wrong reasons and has gone from 6th Man of the Year to the NBA’s All-Ignorance team.
Big Daddy Kane – Charles Barkley
Both Big Daddy Kane and Charles Barkley were never shy about telling the world how great they were. During the golden-era of hip-hop, Big Daddy Kane was the epitome of black masculinity and had the mic skills to back up his bravado. Whether he was talking about his ladies or himself, BDK’s technique kept his haters at bay. Charles Barkley was never camera-shy and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and despite being undersized, he used his physicality to become one of the best power forwards ever. Had it not been for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Sir Charles probably could have added NBA champion to his long list of accolades, and had it not been for Rakim, Big Daddy Kane would probably be considered the greatest MC of all time.
The Roots – San Antonio Spurs
The key word here is consistency. As someone who is very familiar with their work, I can honestly say that the Roots have never released a bad album. And since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1998, the Spurs have never missed the playoffs. However, that’s not to say that both crews have been perfect. Tipping Point, while not bad, was underwhelming when compared to other Roots albums, and the Spurs have also had a couple of early playoff exists that disappointed their fans. Since their formation in 1989, the Roots have had several musicians come and go from their lineup, but they have always been anchored by their founders, Questlove and Black Thought. Similarly, the duo of Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popavich ensure that the Spurs are always title contenders. Even though they're always under-the-radar, the Roots and the Spurs always bring it and rarely, if ever, disappoint.
Emimen – Shaquille O’Neal
There are two sides to both Eminem and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq became one of the NBA’s most beloved players by showing off his sense of humor and big personality that matched his 7-foot, 325-pound frame. But once he stepped onto the court, he was the most dominant force the league had ever seen since Wilt Chamberlain. Eminem can also be goofy and sometimes says the most random things in his rhymes (see “Forgot about Dre”). But then there’s the Eminem that verbally assaults your eardrums with ferocious lyrics, the same Eminem that made Jay-Z look like an amateur on his own album.