By Jake Sweltz
Like most hoops fans, I always get a little depressed after the NBA Finals are over, and so to distract myself from the barren wasteland of late summer sports coverage, I started dreaming up analogies likening various NBA stars to major figures in hip-hop music. Here are some of the most interesting cases:
Black Thought : Tim Duncan – One of the problems with being consistent is that you end up consistently under appreciated. Both of these living legends eventually sacrificed their place at center stage to become invisible, disappearing in their roles as specialized components of a transcendent collaborative unit. It’s a beautiful thing.
Kanye West : Kobe Bryant – Three ways to describe these two towering cultural icons: perpetually divisive, obnoxiously egocentric, and undeniably brilliant. Calling them “competitive” would be an understatement. Kobe and Yeezus both work harder than anyone else in the game to stay on top. Plus, everyone knows how much these guys love to mean mug. And they’re masterful at it.
Lil Wayne : Carmelo Anthony – Just look at these guys. Obvious commonalities include: cocksure attitudes, love of the spotlight, and a certain brand of IDGAF exuberance that’s just downright endearing. Performance-wise, they both seem to phone it in half the time, but hey, at least they’re always good for a few fun highlights along the way.
Andre 3000 : Derrick Rose – “C’MON WHERE YOU BEEN MAN??!?!!??!?!” Seriously, it’s been far too long since we had these artists of the form(s) in our lives. Come back to us, please. Give the people what they want. (Note: Rose analogy also applicable to the immortal Mos Def/Yasiin Bey)
Drake : Blake Griffin – Two big softies with even bigger fan bases who show flashes of true brilliance, but still probably aren’t quite as talented as they think they are. Either way, they both always manage to come off a little douchey. (Note: Blake analogy also applicable to despicable yet charming G.O.O.D. Music associate Big Sean)
Kendrick Lamar : Kevin Durant – “Innovative young guns poised to take over the game,” say their disciples. “Talented, but more than a little overrated,” respond their detractors. EIther way, you can’t deny the spark these two bring when they step in the arena. (Note: the K-Dot analogy is also applicable to the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry)
J. Cole : Dwight Howard – Built up by early hype as future legends, these two have each either plateaued or stalled out somewhere along the way. They’re both still looking to find that right balance of ability on the court/mic and likability offstage, but it’s becoming increasingly uncertain whether either of them will ever actually make “the leap” to true greatness.
Tyga : Deron Williams – Ok, here’s how the typical experience of listening to Tyga rhyme slash watching Deron Williams play basketball plays out in my head: “Goddamn, does this dude ever actually exert any effort at what he does? I swear, I just don’t understand how this guy ever got to be a professional–HOLY SHITBALLS THAT WAS FREAKING AMAZING.” Rack City, bitch.
Waka Flocka Flame : JaVale McGee – Lovable buffoons who probably don’t belong on the radio/basketball court, but they always make you smile so what the hell. (Note: Waka analogy also applicable to Ronny Turiaf or anybody on the Sacramento Kings)
Young Jeezy : David West – Neither of these gents are particularly showy, but they’re steady in the pocket and stick to what they do well. Aesthetically and stylistically, they’re both also nondescript and vaguely thuggish.
Ghostface Killah : Kevin Garnett – What can I say? Both these guys are intensity personified. Alternately goofy and terrifying, these two have been doing it for years and show no signs of stopping, despite diminishing returns with each album/season.
Rick Ross : Carlos Boozer – Besides the ubiquitous body ink, the baldness, and the hilarious facial hair, both of these would-be badasses started out as industry laughing stocks who eventually became indispensable fixtures on their respective teams, seemingly by default. They’re each probably way more calculating about their absurd images than they let on.
Q-Tip : Andre Miller – The veteran professors of their respective industries. Both Miller and the Abstract have always been heady players, and they have each built fruitful and lucrative careers out of being brainy rather than brawny.
NaS : Chris Paul – What we have here are two stubborn, embattled icons of the game who everyone agrees should probably get even more recognition than they already do for being so great, even as their careers remain bizarrely and frustratingly stunted by a number of strange industry factors.
Jay-Z : LeBron James – Well, this one’s pretty obvious, right? I know a lot of people would probably choose Kanye as LeBron’s hip-hop spirit animal, but look a little closer. These two are literally the Kings of their respective domains. Each of them are automatically the most relevant figures in the game, as well as the most recognizable among both casual fans and diehards alike. There is simply no better comparison; these men are the Alpha Dogs.
all images courtesy of images.google.com