Music Sports

Which NBA Player’s Career Correlates To Which Rapper

The intersection between the culture of the NBA and rap music runs closer than you would think.

This is probably the most straightforward article that I will ever write. Well, maybe that Drake article is the most straightforward. Okay, this will be the second most straightforward article I will ever right. The premise is word for word in the title of the article. Which NBA player’s career correlates to the which rapper? It’s like one of those little pages on a kids menu where you connect the words that relate to each other. What happens when you put all the available players and rappers in the pool, then pair them off together? It is super simple.

Here are some ground rules for the article: (1) all rappers, dead or alive, are in play for these comparisons. There is a wider range of personalities and careers to choose from, so everyone can be involved. (2) R&B singers are not to be involved. Nothing really against them as a whole, but R. Kelly is in that group, and I refuse to involve him in this article in any capacity (besides saying he can’t be a part of it now). (3) Only current players on NBA rosters as of the time I’m writing this article will be included. No D-League affiliates, EuroLeague players, NBL (Australian Basketball) or NCAA players. (4) Players will be matched up with rappers not only based off of their career, but on their personalities and standing in their respective league/industry as well.

With the rules being laid out, let’s get it going:

Lou Williams’ rapper counterpart is…

2Chainz. I have to admit, I put the artist formerly known as TityBoi in the upper echelon of rappers partly on account of personal bias. But 2Chainz is just so gahdamn great. It’s undeniable. But the truth is, 2Chainz is the best rapper alive on few occasions: features. When another rapper calls on the Atlanta native for a feature verse, they understand that they are getting the best possible man for the job. He can come off the bench, put up a 20-30 point game, then go sit back down. Do you see where I’m going with this? 2Chainz is the rap sixth man, perhaps the best feature artist out there. It’s the perfect symbolism for what he does.

Why is he perfect for Lou Williams? Simply put, Lou Williams is the NBA’s resident sixth man extraordinaire (Jamal Crawford may also fit this mantle). He is a two-time winner of the award (2015 and 2018), and always has a spot on an NBA bench. He is not on the bench because he is a bad NBA player. He is there because he is an explosive, world-beating sixth man that will take over a game when the starters aren’t there. Remember that time he dropped 50 on the Golden State Warriors? That was his “Mercy” verse. Remember back in 2017 when he scored 137 points in four game, that was 2Chainz’s 2012. Last year, he averaged 22.6 points per game, with 5.3 assists per game, leading all bench players in points per game. He’s an undeniable force off the bench, much like 2Chainz on a track that isn’t his own. Also, Williams is from Snellville, Georgia, which is right outside of Atlanta, so it’s fitting that his counterpart is 2Chainz.

Donte DiVincenzo’s rapper counterpart is…

Slim Jesus. This one is less based on career considering that #WhiteDonte has not played an NBA minute yet. He turned into an overnight sensation during Villanova’s championship run in the 2018 NCAA tournament, winning the award for the Final Four’s Most Outstanding player. He flipped this success and impressive combine workouts into a first round draft pick for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, it is not how he has played that has earned him this comparison to Slim Jesus.

First of all, let me show you a picture of Donte DiVencenzo:


Now here is a picture of Slim Jesus:


These two, who were most likely separated at birth, are the same age as well (21). Coincidentally, both definitely grew up with majority Black friends (see: any time Donte speaks). On the flip side, Donte is a much better basketball player than Slim Jesus ever has been a rapper, but in terms of the usage of AAVE, appearance, and age, the two might as well be interchangeable. I would actually pay good money to see hear Donte DiVincenzo release a rap album. It would probably be more than I would pay to watch him play basketball.

Vince Carter’s rapper counterpart is…

Busta Rhymes. Something happened to me last month, something that I never thought would happen. I was able to see both Lauryn Hill and Busta Rhymes in concert. It was cool, Lauryn Hill showed up like 2 hours after the performer before her, but it was cool nonetheless. The important thing here is that I saw Busta Rhymes, a rap legend. Never in my years of listening to rap did I think I would ever get to see him live in concert. He’s been killing it in the rap game since the early 90s, providing us with hits upon hits with his energy and lyrical skill. Even now, at age 46, when you see Busta Rhymes on a track, you get excited because you understand that you’re going to get a really fun verse from a rap legend.

The longevity of Busta Rhymes’ popularity is the perfect analogy for Vince Carter’s career. Since Carter won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999, he has provided us with a bevy of moments to hang onto throughout NBA history. The dunk contest in 2000 (the “honey dip” dunk, the 360 windmill are unmatched), the dunk over Frédéric Weis in the Olympics, when he hit eight threes one half will always live in the minds of NBA fans. Now, entering year 21 in his career, Carter is an NBA fan favorite, providing veteran leadership off the bench, and even the occasional highlight dunk at age 41. In the same way that seeing Busta Rhymes excited me and thousands of others in Philadelphia, seeing Vince Carter still brings a smile to NBA fans across the league.

Dwight Howard’s rapper counterpart is…

50 Cent. People forget that Dwight Howard is most likely a hall of famer. No matter what you may think of him, early on in his career, he solidified himself as a defensive and rebounding monster. Here are stats from the first time he was voted to 1st team All-NBA for the 2007-2008 season: 20.7 PPG, 14.2 TRB, 2.1 BPG. He would go onto lead the NBA four more times in rebounding and twice in blocks per game. He has been named Defensive Player of the Year three times, the All-Defensive team five times, and to the All-NBA team five times. For much of his career, he has been considered the best center in the League, and was often time talked about among the best centers in history. But there’s one thing that causes people to not want to give him the credit he deserves. He has turned into one of the most unlikeable players in NBA history. From asking for a trade out of Orlando, to reports of him being an awful teammate on the Lakers, Rockets, Hornets, and Hawks, to him just being relatively corny for the majority of his career, his popularity has reached an all-time low.

Why does this equal 50 Cent? Well, 50 Cent basically ran rap, cinema, and business for about 6 years after the release of Get Rich or Die Tryin’. He could really do no wrong. But now, what do people think of 50 Cent? He’s just kind of a internet bully that releases music sometimes. It’s like people forget about how amazing his music used to be, but it’s not their fault. It’s the recent antics that have caused their short term memory loss.

Damian Lillard’s rapper counterpart is…

Damian Lillard. This one probably too on the nose for some people’s taste, but if you go deep under the surface, you see the similarities between Damian Lillard the rapper and Damian Lillard the basketball player. Damian Lillard the rapper is 6’3″. Damian Lillard the basketball player is 6’3″ as well. They are both 28 years old and are both from Oakland, California. Coincidentally, both graduated from Weber State University. Crazy right? Here is where it starts to get scary.

Both are criminally underrated in their respective fields. Damian Lillard the basketball player has often been left out of the conversation for the top tier of point guards in the NBA. While to the naked eye or the neglectful NBA fan, this snubbing may be deserved. But Lillard has been dominating the game at a scary pace. In the 2016-2017 season, Lillard became only the third player in NBA history to record 1500+ points and 400+ assists in each of their first five seasons. The other 2 were Oscar Robertson and LeBron James. Last season, he averaged 26.9 PPG and 6.6 APG, and finally earned himself a 1st team All-NBA selection. His top Win Share season of 12.6 is already higher than Manu Ginobili, George Gervin, and Reggie Miller. The issue is that Lillard had been performing at this rate for the past couple of seasons, but is often forgotten by the media. Damian Lillard the rapper is given the short end of the stick because of Damian Lillard the basketball player. Lillard is by and large the best rapper to ever come out of the NBA (sorry Shaq and Lonzo), and has already released two studio albums. The Letter O and Confirmed made it apparent that Lillard has talent. He received cosigns from Lil Wayne and 2Chainz via features on the albums, but the average rap fan does not give him the same level of respect. Thus is the similarity between Damian Lillard the rapper and Damian Lillard the basketball player.

Aron Baynes rapper counterpart is…

Kobe Bryant. Garbage, unnecessary and an embarrassment.

Zaza Pachulia’s rapper counterpart is…

Tekashi69. These rappers only exist to create chaos. There is no real reason for their existence in either rap or in the NBA. Zaza has only averaged 6.9 PPG (nice), 5.9 TRB, and has a shooting percentage of 47%. Those stats shouldn’t amount to a 15 year career, but lo and behold, he’s still here. He is one of the worst players in the NBA, a total liability on both offense and defense. In fact, the only reason he exists in the League in any capacity is to be the a dirty player and to injure other players. But he has somehow won not one, but two NBA Championships, so apparently there is no method for anyone to deserve to win. In the rap game, Tekashi69 has held popularly standing in the game, putting up multiple billboard hits, remaining one of the more captivating rappers out here. But the thing is, he has no talent. Like none at all. He only exists to troll and instigate against other rappers. He is a chaotic entity that is only here as an industry plant to ruin rap. He’s basically the rap game Zaza Pachulia.

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