Sports Figures and Their Rapper Alter Egos
If your favorite athlete could grip the mic for one night, who would they channel?
Would they flow hard like Method Man? Sing like Drake? Move the crowd like Biggie?
Today we're going to answer that question. For science. For the immortal art of rhyme. For the children.*
The following is a rundown of sports figures and the rappers who embody their attitude and spirit. Let it be known: This isn't a lookalike contest. This is hip hop. Some physical considerations were made, but these selections are about the flow. The stylo.
Enough talking. Let's kick it.
*Warning: Article contains rap lyrics that may be deemed inappropriate and/or the illest. Parental discretion advised.
Young, talented and polarizing to a fault, Johnny Manziel is Drake with an arm and a quick 40-yard dash.
Like his best friend/rapper counterpart, Manziel can be spotted courtside and in the tunnel at professional ballgames, collecting famous friends like Pokemon.
It only makes sense to pair these two. Besides, Drake will seek legal recourse if I don't.
The Lyrics: "Draft Day, Johnny Manziel. Five years later, how am I the man still?"
Russell Wilson is the type of guy who pulls over to help turtles cross the road. And that's fine.
He's not a chest-pounder, and like fellow Seattle resident Macklemore, Wilson is the first to give credit to others. They're good at what they do—good enough to win the highest award in their respective business on any given year.
They'll never be considered the best at their "position," and that suits them just fine. They weren't even supposed to make it this far in the first place.
The Lyrics: "One [team's] trash, that's another [team's] come-up."
Phil Jackson—Jay Z
How many summers springs has J held you down?
The Jigga Man of the NBA, Phil Jackson has nothing left to prove. He's done it all, won it all and has taken so many teams "platinum" that he might start using spare championship rings as napkin holders.
Jay and Jackson could have permanently retired to the Maldives with their power broker WAGs 10 years ago, and no one would have blamed them. Instead they choose to drop in and out of retirement, expanding the institutions that are themselves.
Why? Because they love it, and most importantly, they can.
The Lyrics: "Goin on my eighth ring, got Phil Jackson's Zen. Flow is black magic, I'm at it again."
Let's make one thing clear: Marshall Henderson isn't on Eminem's level. Not even close.
He's a young, unproven Marshall Mathers—a kid with a troubled past and the rough makings of a star.
Henderson has the whole "grab a knife off the mantle and stab you with the handle" attitude down, but the Ole Miss shooting guard has plenty of work to do if he ever wants to match Slim Shady pound-for-pound in respect.
The Lyrics: "Half of you critics can't even stomach me, let alone stand me."
Chris Johnson—Lil Wayne
Chris Johnson is a lot like Lil Wayne's Yamaha—fast and quickly running out of gas.
Johnson started off white-hot, putting up 1,200 and 2,000 rushing yards in his first two seasons in the NFL. Since his eruption, however, he's struggled to scratch his potential and is in danger of falling off completely.
The Lyrics: "She a monster, I’m her sponsor. She run through my head, Chris Johnson."
Randy Moss—Snoop Dogg
Randy Moss and Snoop Dogg are string-bean brothers from different mothers. I just hope one day a rap video from the '90s surfaces where Moss refers to himself as "Straight Cash Slim with the Tilted Rim."
The Lyrics: "Up in your [end zone] is where you might find me."
David Ortiz—Notorious B.I.G.
Relax, Yankees fans. I know I'm blaspheming. Compare David Ortiz to the de facto hip hop king of New York? Might as well sling hot bisque at the Pope.
The fact, however, is Ortiz and the late, great Notorious B.I.G. have plenty in common. His slow flow is remarkable. He gives opposing pitchers the runs (drippin'). And no one grips the mic and freestyles NSFW lines off the dome like Papi.
Oh, did I mention the part where his nickname is "Big Papi"? This is no longer an argument, and if you're upset, relief is on the way. In the meantime, pretend the "B" on his hat stands for Brooklyn.
The Lyrics: "Me encanta cuando me llamas grande papi…"
CC Sabathia—Also Notorious B.I.G.
Couldn't leave you hanging, New York.
After all CC Sabathia's walk-out music is Notorious' "Big Poppa."
The Lyrics: "We can steam on the way to the telly, go fill my belly. A t-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch's grape."
Jason Kidd, Nate Robinson and Ray Allen—A Tribe Called Quest
They can swish it. Indeed, they can.
My NBA Tribe Called Quest roster features Jason Kidd as Tribe's DJ-producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Like Shaheed, Kidd is a maestro in his own right who is capable of making beautiful music as a point guard or coach.
Next up is Nate Robinson, who plays the role of Phife Dawg, because it's perfect.
Last, but not least, we have Ray Allen as Q-Tip the Abstract. Cerebral and soft-spoken, Allen knows his role and plays it to a T. Like Tip, he's an underrated contributor and difference-maker wherever he goes. Put it this way: Ray Allen is to the Miami Heat what Q-Tip is to Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music.
The Lyrics: "So Shaheed come in with the sugar cuts, Phife Dawg's my name but on stage call me 'Dynomutt.'"
Neymar—Chance the Rapper
He's the new Ronaldinho. Forget that, Ronaldinho is the old him.
Like Chance the Rapper, Neymar is a prodigy who studies his elders. He borrows from their styles, improves them and makes them his own. Chance digs on Slum Village, Common and the like, while Neymar looks to 'dinho and other master strikers for inspiration.
They are the future. Get used to it.
The Lyrics: "Even better than I was the last time."
Paul Pierce—Method Man
They're no longer the young guns, but they stick to the method.
Paul Pierce and Method Man know a thing or two about dispatching the competition. Their original star-studded crews have broken up, but they continue to work their Wu-Tang style as if nothing changed.
The Lyrics: "Take it as a threat, better yet it's a promise, comin' from a vet."
Venus Willliams—Lauryn Hill
Not gone, but certainly missed.
Venus Williams was and will always be a beast on the courts, and the landscape of women's tennis changed forever after she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome.
Like her hip hop counterpart Lauryn Hill, the game as a whole suffers when Venus isn't playing.
The Lyrics: "I must confess, my destiny's manifest. In some Gore-Tex and sweats I make treks."
There was a time when Dwyane Wade was one of the most vicious dudes in the game.
He mixed intelligence with killer instinct, a la Common Sense, and helped put Miami on the map as basketball destination, as Common did for Chicago hip hop.
The Lyrics: "The chosen one from the land of the frozen sun."
What's that guy's name again? The dirty-joke-loving miscreant who constantly chases women and offends humorless people around the world?
Paul "Biz Nasty" Bissonnette is his name, and he's coming straight outta Welland.
The Lyrics: "So I threw a right cross and knocked his old [bottom] out."
LeBron James—Kanye West
You either worship or loathe him. There is no safe middle ground when it comes to LeBronye West.
The majority of LeBronye's detractors are former fans who loved his early stuff. They gobbled up the humble-Midwest-kid-puts-city-on-his-back narrative but jumped ship the moment their idol decided to branch out from his roots and make them uncomfortable.
And thus is the story of LeBronye, the most talented and polarizing figure in pop culture.
The Lyrics: "The LeBron of rhyme, hard to be humble when you stuntin' on a Jumbotron."
Warrior. Philosopher. One of the best to ever do it.
Like 2Pac, Kobe Bryant is a hard-boiled kid from the East Coast who found superstardom in L.A. He's not universally beloved (neither was Pac in his time), but all true basketball fans respect what the Black Mamba has accomplished on the hardwood.
The Lyrics: "All eyes on me."
Wu-Tang is for the children and rap debates are for the Twitter.