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  • From Ballers to Shot Callers: The Basketball and Hip Hop Connection

    The 80s marked the dawning of a new age. Hip Hop was still in its infancy stage giving birth to legends like LL Cool J, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, and others. The NBA was also going through several transitions; entering into the modern era and laying the down the groundwork that would greatly shape what the game is today. Kurtis Blow’s playful song, “Basketball” would forever epitomize the connection between Hip Hop and Basketball, shouting out greats like Dr. J and Moses Malone. The same year of the song’s release, Jordan and Barkley would be drafted and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would face off in the NBA finals. Of course Jordan would undeniably forever change the game. As a rookie playing in the 1985 All Star game, he would show up rocking his signature Jordan sneakers,  his own warm up suit and of course his infamous gold chain.  And then there’s “The Answer”. Several decades after the Jordan era, Iverson has made his own dent in the NBA, equipped with his “I don’t give a damn” attitude. AI has shown up to press conferences wearing a du-rag, while his tatted up arms make NBA officials quiver in their starched suits. They have even gone as far blurring out his tats to make him more “marketable” to the masses.  Former NBA coach Dr. Jack Ramsay links Hip Hop to street ball, “My opinion is that hip-hop lessens the image of the NBA. It lends to associating the NBA with street ball — which really isn’t basketball.” Of course any AND1 street baller would disagree. Aaron Owens better known as AO dismisses the haters, “It’s just the older people. [They] just don’t like change. This is not 1948 with the wife and kids, the dog and the white-picket fence. It’s a totally different era generation. Get over it.”In an exclusive HOT 97 interview, New Jersey Nets baller Vince Carter stated that he relied on the dirty south Hip Hop to get him amped for a game. The North Carolinian’s favorite tracks right now are “anything Lil Wayne”. About the connection between Hip Hop and sports, outside of athletes wanting to be rappers and vice versa, Vince Carter discussed the mutual respect for each other. With Jay-Z part owner of the Nets, fellow artists Kanye West, Rihanna and “B” all come to games in support of the team. Likewise, when any of them perform at the Izod Center,  Carter and his team members are there to represent as well.  It’s more than the outward appearance that links Hip Hop to basketball. It’s the spirit and the hard work behind the game. Like Hip Hop artists many athletes have struggled their whole lives to make it to the top. From crossovers on the hardtop to spittin’ freestyles in a cipha the main goal is the ultimate come up.  And that’s what the love of the game is all about.

    For more info check out:

    Dr. Todd Boyd, author of “Young Black Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the hip-hop Invasion, and the Transformation of American Culture,” Stan Grossfeld, “Hip-hop hurrah!”, Boston Globe  Bomani Jones, “An Answer to Hip Hop/Hoops Question”. ESPN Page 3 Special Thanks to

    Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets

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