NBA: 21 Best Ever Raps about Players

Royce JeffreyContributor IIIMay 19, 2011

NBA: 21 Best Ever Raps about Players

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Rapper Kanye West performs during the 2011 NBA All-Star game halftime show at Staples Center on February 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    “Ya’ll think I’m Spelling Iverson when the Beefs all Done,

    Cause you’ll be on IV in the ER, SON.”

                                        -40 Cal.

    Rappers have been linked to basketball ever since the earliest days of hip-hop when giants like Run-DMC and Kurtis Blow blessed the mic with hoops related lyrics. 

    Nowadays, the NBA and rap go together like groupies and 80s hair bands.  Almost every rapper has made some sort of basketball reference in his lyrics.  Some of the most common refer to Michael Jordan, the L.A. Lakers the New York Knicks, sitting courtside, slamming like someone or equating taking shots (hoops) with taking shots (guns). 

    I researched hundreds of songs that mention basketball and put together a list of the 21 greatest lyrics that make reference to current and former NBA players.  A brief comment about the lyric and its selection appear below each entry.

    The selection process was based on creativity, originality, accuracy, word-play and overall song quality. Overly profane language has been starred out (***) and a particular word not worthy of mention has been altered to “sucka” everywhere that it appears. 

    There were heaps of (James) worthy lyrics that I wish I could have included, but in the end, I had to narrow the list down to a manageable number.  Please feel free to include any feedback or entries you feel could have been included.


    (Note: Didn’t include the headline rhyme because it is not from a song but just a freestyle.)

21. Chris Mullin

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    14 Feb 1999: Chris Mullin #17 of the Indiana Pacers controls the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers tries to block at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Pacers defeated the Lakers 101- 99.  Mandatory Credit: Donald Mirall
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Chillin’”

    Rapper: Wale

    Year: 2009


    “Dark liquor ‘til we busted,

    ‘Til I got a buzz like that sucka Chris Mullin.”

    Comment:  Mullin is right up there with Johnny Unitas, Buzz Aldrin and Roger ‘Race’ Bannon from The Adventures of Jonny Quest for greatest buzz cuts ever.  He was a perfect comparison for the double entendre  regarding haircuts and the buzz that one gets from getting all liquored up. 

20. Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat drives against Kyle Korver #26 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER:
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Song Name: “The Glory”

    Rapper: Kanye West

    Year: 2007


    “In two years Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade,

    And Hey, Please Don’t start me.

    I’m like Gnarls Barkley meets Charles Barkley.”

    Comment:  It sounds like Kanye is implying that he went from scholarly and awkward to suave and famous.  You think Dwyane Wade ever watched A Different World?  You think LeBron ever yells “DWYANE!” in that incessantly shrill Whitley voice? 

19. Manu Ginobili

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 27:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antionio Spurs shoots over Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at AT&T Center in San Antonio,
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Push”

    Rapper: Pharoahe Monch

    Year: 2007


    “My accurate jabs connect like rotary
    Make you notice me,
    Be like, ‘Damn, dudes on some totally
    When he rides the bass line like Ginobili’.”

    Comment: Crazy double meaning of the bass line.  What if they switched roles, could Ginobili ride a rap bass line?  That’s something I might pay to hear.

18. Anthony Mason

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    26 Jan 1995:  Forward Anthony Mason of the New York Knicks looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  The Knicks won the game, 87-74. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn  /Allsport
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “B-Boys Makin With the Freak Freak”

    Rapper: Beastie Boys

    Year: 1994


    “I get my hair cut correct like Anthony Mason,

    Then I ride the I.R.T. right up to Penn Station.”

    Comment: Anthony Mason had everything from "In God’s Hands" to "Knicks # 14" cut into his hair.  I think he even had his complete current regular season stats carved in there one year.  Fresh hair do’s are a big part of hip hop, and these lyrics paint such a vivid image of an event that countless fans can relate to; getting your haircut and going to a game.

17. Shaq, Chris Webber, Cederic Ceballos

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    LOS ANGELES - APRIL 10:  Chris Webber #4 of the Sacramento Kings comes under pressure from Devean George #3 and Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game on April 4, 2003 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 1
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Entaprizin”

    Rapper: Big Daddy Kane

    Year: 1998


    “Even the NBA make rap dollars
    Shaquille, Chris Webber, Cedric Ceballos.”

    Comment: Any rap that somehow include Cedric Ceballos in the company of Webber and Shaq deserves to make the list.  I like the dollars comparison between the NBA game and the rap game.

16. Ron Harper

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    19 Feb 1999:  Ron Harper #9 of the Chicago Bulls in action during the game against the Washington Wizards at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. The Wizards defeated the Bull 93-91.  Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger  /Allsport
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Deadly Combination”

    Rapper: Big-L

    Year: 2000 (released post-humorously)


    “A Rockefella like Shawn Carter
    With more game than Ron Harper
    The bomb sparker rapper slash armed robber.”

    Comment: Uhh, that’s not that much game.  Still a great line based on how it rhymes well with Shawn Carter.

15. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

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    1989: Kareem Abdul- Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a layup as Benoit Benjamin of the LA Clippers tries to block him.  Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Sum S*** I Wrote”

    Rapper: Common

    Year: 1994


    “Like Kareem I got the hook up.”

    Comment: Simple, powerful.  No-one before or since had a hook shot quite like Kareem.  Has anyone before or since had a hook-up like Common?

14. Bonzi Wells

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - MAY 5:  Bonzi Wells #42 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2006 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Biscuits”

    Rapper: Trife Da God

    Year: 2004


    “I’m from a place where junkheads and zombies dwell,

    And suckaz keep the heat blazin’ like Bonzi Wells.”

    Comment:  We all know that Wells was a huge pothead during his time in the NBA, probably hitting more J's off the court than on it.  It would seem like “keep the heat blazin” refers to marijuana, but then again, it could be a gun reference.  Either way, anything that rhymes zombies dwell and Bonzi Wells is the stuff of legends in my book.

13. Tim Hardaway

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    16 Jan 2001:   Tim Haradaway #10 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball  during the game against the Detroit Pistons at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  The Heat defeated the Pistons 93-85.   NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the o
    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Heard ‘Em Say”

    Rapper: Kanye West

    Year: 2005


    “And I heard em say, nothing’s ever promised tomorrow today
    From the Chi, like Tim it’s a harda way.”

    Comment: Amazing wordplay with Chicago (Kanye’s hometown) native Tim Hardaway’s last name.  This is one of those songs that sent millions of listeners to the internet to look up the lyrics in order to decipher exactly what Kanye was saying; How many of you still think it sounds like he is saying Timister Hardaway? 

12. Bill Laimbeer

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    1989-1990:  Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons looks for the ball during a game. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Tough Guy”

    Rapper: Beastie Boys 

    Year: 1994


    “Butcher me on the court,

    Too many elbows to report.

    Now you’re poking me in the eye,

    Bill Laimbeer muthaf***** it’s time for you to die”

    Comment: From the late 80s to the early 90s, anybody anywhere in America who fouled a player on the court was referred to as Laimbeer.  He was like a walking domestic dispute on the court and probably racked up more fouls than made-shots over the course of his career.

11. Ed O'Bannon

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    6 Feb 1997:  Guard Charles O''Bannon of the UCLA Bruins (right) moves the ball as California Bears guard Ed Gray covers him during a game at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California.  California won the game, 71-68. Mandatory Credit: David Taylor  /Alls
    David Taylor/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Sonset”

    Rapper: Ras Kass

    Year: 1996


    “Imma make you see L.A. like Ed O’Bannon"

    Comment: Make you see L.A. (UCLA)?  Did you get it that time?  It certainly took me a few listens before I finally grasped the ingenious word play at work here.  On another note, I think Ed O’Bannon sells used cars now.

10. David Robinson

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 13:  David Robinson #50 of the San Antonio Spurs is defended by Jason Collins #35 of the New Jersey Nets in game five of the 2003 NBA Finals on June 13, 2003 at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Street Dreams”

    Rapper: Nas

    Year: 1996


    “She got me back livin’ sweeter, fresh Caeser
    Guess, David Robinsons, Wally moccasins.”

    Comment: The song which took the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” and famously flipped it to “Street Dreams” contains this lyric which rhymes Robinsons and moccasins.  Pure genius even if it makes little sense.  I wonder if David Robinson owns a pair of moccasins?  He seems more like a loafers guy.

9.Shawn Bradley, Pervis Ellison, J.R. Rider, Harold Miner and More

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    CHICAGO - JANUARY 23:  Forward Antonio Davis #34 and center Eddy Curry #2 of the Chicago Bulls pressure center Shawn Bradley #44 of the Dallas Mavericks as he shoots during a game on January 23, 2004 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Maverick
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Pump It Up (Remix)”

    Rapper: Jay-Z

    Year: 2003


    “I’m the Mike Jordan of the mic recordin’
    Hovi, baby you Kobe
    maybe Tracy McGrady
    Matter fact you a Harold Miner
    JR Rider, washed up on marijuana
    Even worse you a Pervis Ellison
    You worthless fella
    You aint no athlete, you Shawn Bradley”

    Comment: I love how the quality of player gets worse and worse as the rap progresses.  Poor Shawn Bradley, he had the girth of an unstrung guitar neck.  I wonder if many people even know that Pervis Ellison was a basketball player?

8. Rick Fox and Latrell Sprewell

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    MINNEAPOLIS - MAY 29:  Latrell Sprewell #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives around Rick Fox #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2004 NBA Playoffs at Target Center on May 29, 2004 in Minneapolis, Minne
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “NBA”

    Rapper: Kool Keith

    Year: 2001


    “Even if you have braids like Latrell
    I got more numbers in my system than Pacific Bell
    Pass the basketball around and go tell
    Smoother than Rick Fox puttin on his hair gel”

    Comment: No one came up with odd raps quite like Kool Keith, and no one put on hair gel quite like Rick Fox.

7. Ray Allen

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11: Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics shoots a jump shot during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: Us
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Song Name: “NBA on NBC Theme”

    Rapper: Rasaq

    Year: 2003


    “Rasaq is like Ray Allen,

    He got game.

    My neck is like an outdoor net,

    He got chains.”

    Comment: An obscure song with mammoth lyrics.  He got game refers to the name of the Spike Lee movie starring Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth, and anyone who has ever played outside has likely come in contact with a chain net (and possibly cut the hell out of themselves on it as well). 

6. Chris Webber

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 11:  Chris Webber #4 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Alan Henderson #50 of the Dallas Mavericks at Arco Arena on February 11, 2005 in Sacramento, California. The Mavericks defeated the Kings 115-113.  NOTE TO USER: User expre
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Cry Babies (Oh No)”

    Rapper: Ludacris

    Year: 2001


    “I’m a Sac King like Chris Webber.”

    Comment:  As much as I don’t like the flow of Ludacris, his onslaught of punch lines could knock the wind out of almost any hip-hop fan.  It is therefore fitting that he makes it onto the list with this Webber line.  I wonder if Ludacris experimented with any other Sacramento Kings players?  “I’m a Sac King like Reggie Theus or I'm a Sac King like Scott Pollard” just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it.  Who is the actual sack king?  

5. Magic Johnson

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    30 Jan 1996: Magic Johnson #32 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates on the court during his first game back as a Laker at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.   Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

    Rapper: Kanye West

    Year: 2007


    “No, I already graduated
    And you can live through anything if Magic made it
    They say I talk with so much emphasis
    Ooohh…they so sensitive”

    Comment: Referring to Magic Johnson's HIV.  Would have been nice to list a rhyme about Magic and his performance on the court instead of his disease, but at least it has a powerful positive message.

4. Rod Strickland

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    25 Apr 1997:  Rod Strickland of the Washington Bullets runs from Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls during their 98-86 loss to the Bulls in the NBA first round playoffs at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Triumph”

    Rapper: RaeKwon (Wu-Tang Clan)

    Year: 1997


    “Max mostly, undivided, then slide it, sickenin’

    Guaranteed, made ‘em jump like Rod Strickland.”

    Comment:  I always thought Strickland was known more for his passing than his leaping ability.  That aside, this epic track seems like it could go on forever (I think every rapper in Wu-Tang gets a full verse).  Then all of a sudden with no warning, it ends with this monster lyric about New York playground legend Rod Strickland, like a game-winning shot with the clock running out.  Perfect.

3. Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili

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    SAN ANTONIO - MARCH 24:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball past Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on March 24, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Song Name: “I’m the Man”

    Rapper: Fabolous

    Year: 2007


    “You know how the man do,

     Coupe is on Manu Ginobilis,

    But the truck is on Kobes.”

    Comment: Comparing rim size to jersey number.  Ginobili rims = 20 inches while Kobe rims = 24.  I assume he is talking about Kobe’s new uniform number.  An eight-inch rim would be balling only if you were pushing something like a dessert cart around.

2. Michael Jordan

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    CHICAGO - MARCH 30:  Michael Jordan #45 of the Chicago Bulls jumps to shoot the ball during the game against the Boston Celtics at the United Center on March 30, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 100-82.    NOTE TO USER: User expre
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Encore”

    Rapper: Jay-Z

    Year: 2003


    “When I come back like Jordan wearing the 45,

    It ain't to play games with you,

    It’s to aim at you.”

    Comment:  The best rapper (in the opinion of many) loves rapping about the best basketball player (don’t think many can rationally argue this).  Simply put, this is Jay-Z's greatest rhyme about him and is backed by a world-class beat by a young Kanye West.  A flawless sports to streets analogy.

1. Shaquille O'neal

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    2 Feb 1995:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic goes up for two during a game against the Seattle SuperSonics at Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida.  The SuperSonics won the game, 106-103. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Song Name: “Gimme The Loot”

    Rapper: Biggie Smalls

    Year: 1994


    “I’m slamming suckaz like Shaquille,

    S*** is real,

    When it’s time to eat a meal,

    I rob and steal.”

    Comment:  These lyrics are bigger than Biggie Smalls and Shaq combined.  It is safe to say that nobody slams like Shaquille, and nobody rhymes like Biggie.  I hated to edit them for content, but it was necessary.  I am sure that the profanity lacing Smalls would not be too pleased, but he can rest assured that his combination of remarkable slow-flow and profound lyrics earned him the top spot in this list with ease.