Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hip Hop & Basketball: What NBA Players Can Learn From Kendrick Lamar

They say basketball and hip-hop have always been intertwined and anybody who disagrees with that clearly doesn’t watch nor are they in tune to the culture of basketball. Over the last few seasons Lebron James and the Miami Heat have ruled the basketball world but many old school fans or fans of that era will say that this era of NBA basketball is soft or not as strong as the 90's. The same people who say that can say the same about hip-hop music. For years hip-hop has lost its core value in lyrics and clever wordplay in exchange for catchy beats and song lyrics for the radio but like anything in life it has its cycles.

Enter Compton MC Kendrick Lamar-one of the top rappers in the game today. As an up and comer gunning for the top spot in the world of hip hop Kendrick was featured in a song with Detroit based rapper Big Sean titled “Control”. In this song Kendrick took shots at every rapper who he sees as competition and didn't mention rappers he doesn’t fear as competition. He even went as far as calling himself “King Of New York” even though he is a native of California. He stirred up a lot of controversy and although he may have respect for his peers in the rap game such as J.cole,Cassidy and Big Krit that dosen't mean he isn't trying to destroy them as far as competition is concerned because at the end of the day its about being the best and most well respected at your craft and Kendrick Lamar’s craft is hip hop music.

Fraternize-To associate with others in a brotherly or congenial way.

The word Fraternize or the act of it known as fraternizing is incredibly obvious in the NBA today. The Miami Heat's big 3 of Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh all joined all once number 1 options for their respective franchises joined forces in the summer of 2010 to compete for championships. Or at least that’s what they will tell you but a big reason they are together is because well...they are friends. Now I’m not hating on them but I'm giving an example that everybody knows about. Now I will not say that the players in the NBA aren't competitive because to play in the NBA you have to be but I will say that guys are a bit to buddy-buddy.

Just picture this right its 1990something (you fill in the year) and Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller are playing in an intense playoff series between the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. Its approaching halftime the Pacers have the basketball and Reggie Miller comes off a screen and drills a 3 point shot at the buzzer. Nice play right? Well this play was so nice that in the middle of a playoff game that Michael Jordan goes up to Reggie Miller and high fives him in honor of him drilling a shot on his team. Visualize and marinate on that for a second,does that look right?

The answer is a resounding “HELL NO” so why do we see NBA players fraternizing with each other during playoff games. For example take this seasons Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Miami Heat. Paul George dunks on Chris Andersen the following play Lebron James comes back and hits a 3 pointer to beat the buzzer at halftime. They could have just went to the locker room and that’s that but no they had to high five each other because of course they are friends. Now I know those guys train together in the off season but save that stuff for post game this is the Eastern Conference Finals and a trip to the NBA Finals is on the line. Lebron James has friends on the Heat he can go clap up Dwyane Wade and Paul George can go give Roy Hibbert some dap but don't fraternize during games its just not right and it looks wrong.

Players from back in the day such as Charles Barkley can't stand guys being friends saying “I hate that stuff I see today”. He has every right to while this is the highest level of basketball in the world and there is a certain level of respect that it commands you can't show it during the games though its war. Like I said though just like hip-hop everything has cycles and maybe basketball will once return to the days of genuine hatred and less fraternizing it makes for better basketball.

Rajon Rondo is a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Along with being one of the top guards in the NBA this guy is hyper competitive and isn't about being Chris Paul's or Russell Westbook's best friend because he is to busy trying to beat them and prove he is the best. Rondo embodies everything right with basketball from a competitive standpoint. Again not hating on the Miami Heat but everyone and their mom is taking the veterans minimum to go there and not all NBA fans agree with that and some even myself may see it as a cop out or just more fraternizing. Rondo isn't in the best situation in Boston and could easily go somewhere better if the right scenario was presented but He wants to be the guy in Boston and he isn't friends with that many NBA players and I actually admire that it's not about making friends its about winning so Rondo gets it.

The NBA could learn a lot about having a competitive balance from Kendrick Lamar. He isn't tweeting J.Cole about how great he is nor is he speaking about how musically gifted he thinks Wale's last album may have been. He is trying to destroy his opponents (whom he has respect for) but he is trying to be the best at his craft so you aren't going to hear him talk about how great he thinks those guys are when he is trying to stake his claim as the best in hip-hop. The way Michael Jordan told people to step up their game through his exceptional play is the same way Kendrick is telling his peers in the rap world to step their game up lyrically.

So what has been the aftermath of Lamar's verse calling out all of his peers. He has gotten responses from some notable names such as Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Cassidy and Joe Budden. It has sparked some great lyrics in hip-hop over the last week or so and fans of the genre couldn't be happier.

Will the NBA ever follow in hip-hops current foot steps and stop the acting like friends while on the court? Hopefully, I think it makes the sport look bad when dudes are hugging each other just before tip-off. I don't care how much respect Kevin Durant has for Lebron I along with millions don't want see him be friends on court with James nor do we want to see him back down we want more guys in the league to take on the attitude of Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson,Rajon Rondo and Roy Hibbert. That’s the attitude of “This is basketball and I respect your game but I'm here to kick your ass”. So NBA Players follow the lead of your favorite rapper Kendrick Lamar and respect the hard work the opponent puts into their craft but tear their head off on that hardwood. Kendrick Lamar is the perfect example of striking a balance of respect for someones craft and confidence in your ability and the NBA needs to get back to that.

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