NBA Stars and their Hip-Hop Counterparts



Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find NBA stars who’s game reflects other players. Every player has to be unique to themselves and have a signature move thats special to them and no one else making every player wildly different. This is definitely not a glaring issue for the NBA, however for writers, this is an issue that makes comparing past and present players nearly impossible. Instead, we will compare players to their hip-hop counterparts.

Lebron James – Kanye West

Photo from Washington Post

Photo from Washington Post

Lebron James is the Kanye West of basketball. Kanye hit the ground running when he dropped his debut album, College Dropout. Since then he has dropped six other albums, all of which went platinum. One of his best albums is Watch the Throne, a collaboration with the great MC, Jay Z.

Consequently, LBJ entered the league as one of the most highly touted high school prospects in NBA history. He led his team to multiple playoff appearances, but he was always cut short of a championship. When he tag teamed with future hall of famers, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, he led the Miami heat to the NBA Finals and two championships. Since, analysts have started to question his status as an all-time great, much like many people question Kanye’s status. Whatever your opinion is of them, we can agree that neither Kanye nor Lebron’s cryptic tweets are helping them.


Stephen Curry – Drake

Photo from CBS Sports

Photo from CBS Sports

Drizzy has been on a rampage since he entered the rap game. Since his debut album, Thank Me Later, Drake has not only continued to produce multiple platinum albums, but he has redefined his game. In his debut album, Drake’s flow is simple and sounds just about as natural as a “Degrassi” script. On If You’re Reading This, Drake exuberates confidence. Breaking up his cadence, Drizzy sounds like a rapper competing with himself.

Stephen Curry entered the league as a shooter. As a starter, he took a backseat to Monta Ellis where the majority of his shots came off of catch and shoot baskets. It wasn’t until the Warriors front office traded away Ellis that Stephen Curry was given the reigns to the team. Even then, Curry had yet to take shape into his MVP form. During the 2012-13 playoffs, Curry’s game rose to another level. He led his Golden State Warriors to a victory over a tough Denver Nugget squad but ended up losing to the San Antonio. These playoffs marked a new beginning for Curry. His insane ball handling and proficient 3-point shooting led him to be the 2015 NBA MVP, but he is truly leaps and bounds from where he was when he began his career. This season, Curry is on a platform alone. He has raised his game to an unparalleled level likewise to Drake. However, no matter how big Drake gets, we will always know who the real Chef Curry is.


Kobe Bryant – Jay Z

Photo from WNYC

Photo from WNYC

No matter what, there are two undeniable truths in this world: Jay Z is an all-time great MC and Kobe is an all-time great basketball player. In the same way that you lean back in your office chair and yell “Kobe” after throwing a wad of paper into the trash, young kids and rappers emulate Jay Z’s unique flow. Few remember that it was Jaz-O who mentored Jay Z. They collaborated on many of Jaz O’s tracks before Jay Z made a name for himself. When Jay Z created Roc-A-Fella Record with Damon Dash, he left Jaz-O behind. Ultimately, a dispute broke out between Jay Z and Jaz-O over a contract deal that ruined that caused major beef between the two. Jay Z has since stamped his name in the record books of hip-hop with the records he broke, including most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart for a solo artist.

Kobe Bryant and Shaq had a similar relationship. They were close during their early championship seasons, but the beef between them was ultimately too much. Bryant continued to produce big number in the NBA while Shaq was last seen promoting Gold Bond somewhere.


Demarcus Cousins – DMX

Photo from Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Photo from Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Boogie Cousins is a brute in the paint. This season he as even expanded his shot to the 3-point line shooting at a much-improved .349 percent. However, techs and bouts with other players have tainted the young All-Star’s career. Since entering the league, he has been known for being a great player but having a bad attitude. His own coaches don’t even like him.

DMX is a similar type of rapper. He has had an amazing hip-hop career, having 5 of his albums go platinum. Where Boogie struggles with his temper during games, DMX struggles with his legal issues, being arrested multiple times for drug abuse. Still it is hard to deny either of them respect in their fields. There are a lot of people who love to get crunk to X’s music, but for the most part, people say his music goes too hard. To no surprise, going “Too hard” is a problem that neither X nor Boogie have ever been worried about.


James Harden – Frank Ocean

Photo from NBA

Photo from NBA

Where is Frank Ocean? Better yet, where is James Harden?

Last season? Harden was in the running for MVP, led his team to a 2 seed in the Western Conference, and competed in the Western Conference Finals before losing to Stephen Curry and the Warriors. Today? His team is a bubble team for the playoffs. Literally out of nowhere, Harden and Co. fell off the NBA spectrum. From Hero to Zero, his basketball woes mirror the unique story of Frank Ocean.

Frank Ocean’s only album, Channel Orange, received universal acclaim when it released. His album won a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album and was the Vibe Magazine Man of the Year. It has been 4 years since the release of his album, and no one has heard but a squeak from Frank Ocean. Fortunately for fans everywhere, Frank Ocean has recently announced the release of his sophomore album. Although no one knows its release date, fans are just glad that Frank Ocean’s career will have a revival. The real question is if James Harden will have the same type of comeback?


Kevin Durant – Kendrick Lamar

Photo from Next Impulse Sports

Photo from Next Impulse Sports

Kevin Durant can do no harm. People may argue that he is in a bad situation in OKC, but no one can deny that KD is a bad man. He comes onto the court all quiet and then will flat out destroy you. He is the youngest player to ever lead the league in scoring, and has been playing at his prime basically since 2010. His combination of size and just pure skill is a talent that will keep him in his prime for years to come. As long as he’s got legs to run and arms to shoot, you can count on KD to produce buckets.

K Dot is a similar beast. His last two albums, good kid, m.A.A.d. city and To Pimp a Butterfly, are both platinum certified. Kendrick proved he could be a lyricist and a griot. He paints vivid pictures of his experiences growing up in the drug-infested streets and gang lifestyle of his native Compton, California. His beats vary from head bangers to atmospheric and subtle, but there isn’t a single one that doesn’t vibe with the listeners. In “Control”, you almost feel bad for the competition as Kendrick scorches them to little but nothing. K Dot and KD both seem humble enough when they are not performing, but put them under the lights and they’ll display that killer instinct.


All Stats from www.basketball-reference.com

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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