NBA players are constantly being analyzed by various areas of the world. There was once a time when players could be seen on NBC once a week playing on a low resolution screen in old school colors and uniforms that revolved around short shorts. Although the sport is still similar to what it has always been, the NBA has changed its dynamics and its players are becoming more and more recognized in the world.
Amongst the first players to move beyond the basketball world are guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who studied Kung Fu under Bruce Lee and took part in movies, Wilt Chamberlain, who was known for his womanizing across the country and his ability to play volleyball as well and Magic Johnson who has ventured into many different business opportunities.
NBA players now can be seen in many places across the world well beyond basketball related activities. With the emergence of social media and the transferring of information via the Internet, players are often criticized and analyzed for every movement that they make.
Amongst these activities are mingling with entertainers and rappers across the world. NBA stars have an idea that they are able to hold rap careers similar to major rappers such as Drake and Jay-Z. These are often the guys who have no idea that their pitch is off, their producers don’t give them good beats to work off of and their lyrics are subpar. Nonetheless, the NBA produces rappers every year and these guys get constant exposure to the entertainment world because of their abilities in the NBA.
This list will examine a list of 10 singers/rappers who were in (or are currently in) the NBA. This will range from rappers from the projects, guys constantly engaging in karaoke and players rapping in another language. Nonetheless, much love goes out to all these guys for trying to continue to be entertainers in other aspects of the world.
10. Steve Francis
This guy’s rapping career is actually one of the worst things on YouTube right now, but he made the list because of his name. Steve Francis is often regarded as one of the best players to participate in and not win a Dunk Contest, mainly because he participated the same year that Vince Carter absolutely massacred the competition and let everyone know it’s over.
Francis only lasted 9 years in the NBA, and then one year in China. To no surprise, his rapping career hasn’t taken off either. His single Finer Things is him, after his career, telling his special lady how she deserves the finer things in life and that he would buy it all for her. Glad to see Francis has lived large after his NBA career fell off the map.
9. Dirk Nowitzki
Although he hasn’t released any albums featuring big name rappers or had videos of him on a plane singing for his wife, Dirk is one of the “best” singers in the NBA. Dirk’s singing career has been documented over his career, but over the last two years, he’s taken it to another level.
This is partially because of the Mavericks PR team pushing for him to be an entertainer on social media to draw in fans, but also because the guy just loves to sing. Videos of Dirk singing songs such as We Are the Champions and Born in the USA show that he has more than just heart on the basketball court. He lays it all on the floor on the court and on the mic.
8. Allen Iverson
Iverson was one of the biggest names to link hip hop and the NBA. With his cornrows, tattoos and tough guy demeanor, Iverson brought the two worlds together and it only made sense that he attempted to turn it into a rapping career as well.
Although his rap career was short lived, it consisted of all the clichés of rap music: homophobic, violent and misogynist lyrics. The guy was a superstar on the court, but was far from it behind the mic. Hopefully his rap career picks up again so it helps him out of the massive debt that he’s in now.
7. Chris Webber
Chris Webber, current TNT and NBATV analyst, was once a rapper earlier in his career. Coming out of Detroit, Webber has always had that mean look on his face as he scowled at his opponents after vicious dunks.
In 1999, C. Webb released his album 2 Much Drama which had the single Gangsta Gangsta featuring Kurupt. Despite releasing with an independent record label, C. Webb still managed to have album feature big name rappers like Redman and Kurupt.
6. Kobe Bryant
Kobe’s rap career didn’t last long despite the amount of work that he put into it. Kobe was seen putting in time during offseasons, playing ball during the day and then recording his tracks at night, embracing the lifestyles of both worlds.
Kobe released his single K.O.B.E featuring Tyra Banks in January 2000. The single didn’t last long as Kobe was dropped by Sony after all the negative feedback that the superstar and the studio received from it.
5. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant’s NBA career is still young and he’s currently the best scorer in the league. With a lethal 3 point shot, ability to drive the lane and his copy of Dirk’s fadeaway one-legged shot, Durant has become one of the most loved players in the NBA.
Kevin Durant can now be found on websites such as Hotnewhiphop for his work behind the mic as well. His first track featuring Privaledge called Wired was released in 2012 and surprisingly enough, KD was not hammered for his work. Rather, social media applauded his attempt to expand his career and his lyrics in the song. Guess we’ll be hearing more from Trey5 in the future.
4. Stephen Jackson
Stak5, recently, has put more time and effort into his rap career rather than staying in shape to launch 3s. Jackson has taken on the character of Stak5 AKA Stack Jack for his rap career rather than using his actual name.
Jackson recently collaborated with Kevin Durant for their song Lonely at the Top. The irony is that Jackson hasn’t been at the top since 2003 when he was a role player for the Spurs and KD is ascending to the top of the league. Hopefully this song pushes KD’s career to the top, instead of becoming more like Jackson, who sadly sounds like a bad underground rapper.
3. Tony Parker
Tony P had a full-on rap career in France before becoming a superstar in the NBA. The 3-Time Champion released one album in 2007 when he was 25, and the album did well in the French hip hop scene. Although it’s not recognized in North America as much, Parker’s song Balance Toi topped the charts in France.
Parker even recorded a track with New York native Fabolous called Top of the Game. Despite the rest of the song being in French, Fabolous’ verse in English and the production behind the song make it surprisingly good. Tony P earned even more street cred after allegedly cheating on his former wife Eva Longoria. It takes a really gutsy man to cheat on Eva Longoria, so it makes sense that Fabolous would pick a ball player with that much edge to do a song with.
2. Ron Artest/Metta World Peace
There’s little doubt that Ron Artest has the street cred to be a hardcore gangster rapper. He spent his childhood in Queensbridge, the biggest housing projects in North America. The neighborhood was so rough that Artest, whose building was built under a bridge, witnessed a murder on the basketball court after a game.
Artest’s rap game was made official in 2006 when he released his album My World, which featured acts such as Mike Jones and P Diddy. His flow is actually pretty decent and his lyrics attempt to emphasize his ability on and off the floor.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq has been out of the league for a couple of years now and continues to be a part of the NBA community. As an analyst with TNT and NBATV, Shaq has never shied away from being the center of attention. As the first overall pick of the 1992 draft, O’Neal has always had cameras on him on and off the court.
His rapping career started off in 1993 with the album Shaq Diesel that went Platinum. He went on to release 4 other albums, one of which went Gold. Possibly the most notable of Shaq’s songs was his diss track aimed at Kobe Bryant in the summer of 2004, after being chased out of the Lakers organization. Shaq’s success as an entertainer in the world and as a rapper makes him the most successful NBA player turned rapper.