Rappers We Like That Don’t Suck At Basketball

It’s cool when people are really good at more than one thing. Neil Armstrong could walk on Earth and the moon. LeBron James can carry Larry Hughes and Kevin Love to separate NBA Finals. Michael Scott can revive a dying paper company multiple times while verbally backhanding Toby every day.

Those are pretty cool things, but those are to be expected from cultural giants such as those esteemed gentlemen. What isn’t expected, but is still really dope, is when rappers we like don’t suck at basketball.

Rappers love to rap about how great it would be to play in the NBA, and ballers love to talk about how great it would be to be a rapper. Some do both, and most of them only do one of those things even marginally well. Very, very few are good at both.

Damian Lillard can spit hot fire, but he’s much better at shooting threes in your eye over and over. Lil Uzi Vert can make hit songs about all the dead presidents he’s got (you know, money) but he’s really exceedingly awful at basketball. There’s a short clip of him “playing basketball” on the internet, but it’s like watching a baby bird fail to fly. It’s depressing. You should watch it.

There are a few talents that can crossover (sorry) to either basketball or rapping, doing either thing pretty well. If you ask me, there’s only four that are worth considering, and obviously, they’re listed below.

J Cole

J Cole got cut his freshman year then managed to get playing time here and there in his final two years of high school, mostly as a wing with his long reach, and pushing 6’3” he was one of the taller guys on a rather small squad. They still did work, as they had the Coach of the Year and Player of the Year of their conference, but this did limit Cole’s minutes.

Cole’s highlight:

On Senior Nighthe had a one-man fastbreak after swiping the ball, rushing down the court all on his own. No pressure, right? Nope, all the pressures were felt.

Sensing that a dunk was inbound, the bench players stood up, anticipating a nice one-handed jam, one of them probably with his arms out, sort of implying that he’s going to need to be held back during the dunk celebration, but there was no need.

Cole can rap better than 99.999999999999% of us on this planet, but like 99.999999999999% of us, he can’t dunk. Well, he can dunk, but it isn’t clean, and this wide open dunk on Senior Night violently bounced off the rim and high into the air.

Everyone was sad, but only for a moment; Cole quickly gathered himself and the ball, finishing with a layup that got the crowd almost as loud as if he’d made the dunk. It’s like he showed up to a party without any beer, but brought some shitty half-empty bottles of alcohol instead.

His senior year also coincided with LeBron James’ final high school campaign, which is just a little somethin’ for ya.

2 Chainz

It’s easy to see that 2 Chainz (Tauheed Epps to the Feds) played basketball before he started delivering hilarious punchlines and wearing two chains.

A staunch 6’5” in high school (that’s when he stopped growing), 2 Chainz could handle the ball well and did his best to stay out of the key. When you’re skinny, it’s hard to maintain a physical presence under the basketeven when you’re tall, and when you can shoot, scoring from 2 feet away from the hoop is pretty boring so he stayed around the three-point line.

If you’re imagining a young Chainz dropping no-look dimes and draining fadeaway threes, then you’re practically Nostradamus; he’s been flashy since day one and loved to yack ‘em whenever he got the chance. If And-1 mixtapes were around in 1995, he would definitely have one.

Able to play any position at the high school level, 2 Chainz played a major role during his senior year, leading them to a triple-overtime win against their local rival (he hit a buzzer beater to send the game to OT, then did it again to go to a second OT).  

2 Chainz’s highlight:

Due to his length and skill, Tauheed got some looks from D-1 schools like the University of Memphis, but they passed on him because of his lack of girth. (They had just lost Penny Hardaway to the NBA, and he was skinny, but apparently 2 Chainz was just too thin.)

Think about that – a 6’5” guy with handles and a silky jumper who could play point guard as well as a wing, was passed on because he had trouble gaining weight. Good thing though, because if Memphis had signed him, we might not have the “Birthday Song”. Thanks for having a crazy fast metabolism, 2 Chainz!

Alabama State’s coaching staff were able to recognize a real one when they saw it, and thus Tity Boi became a collegiate athlete. He didn’t play much, but hey, he got a spot on a college basketball team, which is much better than Lil Uzi.

Sheck Wes

Potentially the best hooper on this list, Sheck Wes is a 19-year-old rapper/model/baller from Harlem. He’s got soooo many flows, and girls keep calling his phone. It’s a problem.

Anyways. At 6’2”, Sheck is thin and lanky, making him an adept player who is hard to defend. Unfortunately, there’s no video of him playing that I can find, but he managed to play AAU in New York as a youngin’, which is about as easy as breaking out as a rapper in New York. 

Sheck’s highlight:

After being chosen to appear in Yeezy Season 2, Sheck had a tough decision: make his break as a model, or miss the entire high school season. If he went to the show, Sheck wouldn’t be able to play at all after missing too many classes that year. He chose to hoop, and you might think that he made a dumb decision, as who wouldn’t want to model for Kanye’s shit, but it worked out just fine; Sheck would appear in Yeezy Season 3, choosing to wear Kanye’s clothes instead of playing in a playoff game.

How is that a highlight? Well, it’s not a basketball highlight, but it’s related to basketball and it launched Sheck’s career, so it’s a highlight of some sort. I don’t know. If he played in that game, we might not have “Mo Bamba” to play really loudly over and over again, so thanks to Kanye, I guess. 

Quavo

Quavo, the self-proclaimed “Head Huncho” of the Migos trio, makes this list despite his lack of legit hooping experience. He never played in high school, but that’s because he was slinging a football around (which he was pretty damn good at).

He makes this list for swatting the absolute shit out of Rachel De Mita and winning MVP of the 2018 Celebrity All-Star Game. He scored 19 points against celebs who are absolutely terrible at basketball (minus Rachel, who played college hoops), but that’s still a worthy accomplishment.

He rebounded well, played defense, and managed to score more than everyone else who played, thus earning the MVP trophy (which should have been iced the fuck out).

Quavo’s highlight:

For once, here’s video so I don’t have to poorly describe what he did/make it all up. 

Not bad, not bad at all.

13 Points in 33 Seconds: The Greatest Achievement in Human History

Tracy McGrady isn’t my favorite athlete, something I discovered as a kid when my friends and I were talking about our favorite athletes of all time. Up to that point, I hadn’t really thought about it that much – I could list off a top ten or top five athletes from various sports, but never placed them in a specific, unchanging order.

The list was fluid, changing as my interests wavered. Basketball overtook baseball, which was then surpassed by soccer, which is and will always be at the top of the theoretical athletics totem pole. At some point, my list of favorite athletes would have to follow suit.

When I was around 14, Tracy McGrady was a fluid number one overall on my list, falling to two or three depending on how LeBron James or Cristiano Ronaldo were performing. LeBron and CR7 make the top three for obvious reasons, the most obvious being they’re two fucking GOATs and do amazing shit on a weekly basis.

Tracy made top three for a few reasons:

  1. His jersey number was 1 (most of the time), which is like saying, “Hey, I’m better than you at this, and I’m going to make sure you’re all aware of it.”
  2. He played for the Magic when I played for the Magic (on my [very stacked] Parks & Rec team)
  3. He wore a leg sleeve and an armband, which was swag on another level
  4. He could dunk on you (RIP Shawn Bradley) and then hit a three in your face
  5. Tracy McGrady is a great name, and T-Mac is a great nickname

Those are solid reasons to place a guy in one’s top three favorite athletes, but there’s another one that pretty much guarantees he can never fall out of the top three.

On December 9, 2004, my fucking boy T-Mac did something that no one will likely ever do again in human history. It was absolutely mad – the scenes…

Down 76-68 to the San Antonio Spurs, Tracy and his fellow Houston Rockets had a hill to climb and no time at all to do it – they were down 8 points with 43 seconds to left in the game, a deficit that is improbable, but not impossible to overcome.

It helps to have a Tracy McGrady on your team, a lanky 6’8” guard with tenacity and the ability to take over a game single-handedly, but those aren’t always in stock.

Okay, so 43 seconds to go, down 8, and T-Mac brings the ball up the court, Bruce Bowen guarding him closely. Typical Spurs, playing till the clock runs out.

Also, very typical Bruce Bowen. If you don’t know who he is, he’s this bald guy that was really, really, very extremely good at defending, especially around the perimeter.

Tracy does a little spin, executing it kinda poorly, but he gets saved by a screen which Bruce blindly cascades into, freeing up Tracy for an open three, which he drills like he’s tightening a screw into a wall or something. I don’t know, just know he made the shot, and it was beautiful.

There’s a video at the bottom of this, of course, but you should stick around for the words. I did these.

36 seconds on the clock as the ball goes in, and the Rockets are now down by five, 76-71.

The Spurs then scored in their typical boring fashion. 78-71 with about 32 seconds to go. Gulp.

Tracy brings the ball up the court again. Bruce is guarding him too closely again.

Guess what? Bruce got his ankles broken by a McGrady crossover then got screened again thanks to Yao Ming’s incredible stature and ability to take up space by being absolutely gigantic.

Using the screen, Tracy hits another three, this one being wet as fuckand in Tim Duncan’s eye. Celebrations ensuedespite the deficit. Home crowds can sense a comeback, and they were in for a legendary finish to an altogether ordinary game (you know, excluding the final 43 seconds).

Houston is down 4 points with 24.3 seconds left, barely more than the shot clock limit. (That’s 24 seconds long, but I mean, you gotta know that, right? It’s pretty common knowledge. Your crotchety middle school gym teacher with a Polish last name might not have enforced a shot clock, but there is one.)

Fast forward to 16 seconds left, and the Rockets are inbounding the ball. At this point, who really cares what happened when the Spurs had possession. Houston is down five, and the clock is ticking.

T-Mac receives the ball, once again stuck to Bruce Bowen by his freakish defensive gravity, luring opponents so close their jerseys blended together to make one four-digit number. Scrambling for space, Tracy manages to make just a few inches of space for a shot, which he launches with some apparent difficulty. It was honestly an uglyass shot, one that should never go in, but the shot wasn’t about to miss, not after the last two threes.

Bang. Houston now down two, 80-78 with 11.2 seconds remaining. Tracy was feeling it, the crowd was feeling it, and Gregg Popovich was trying his best not to let his team feel it too, as they were losing their grip on a game they should have had locked down before this run ever started.

Too late.

San Antonio then took a timeout, hopefully using the time to draw up a plan, which probably consisted of running around and using up every second while their lead was still intact.

If that was the plan, they only got the ‘running around’ part right. As for the ‘using up every second’ part, they only ate up four seconds; there were still seven remaining, which is great but only if you play for the Houston Rockets.

During the four seconds they had the ball, the Spurs managed to give the ball away to the man of the final 43 seconds, Tracy McGrady. Oops.

T-Mac has seven seconds to run up the court, avoiding all of his teammates at any cost, as they were all pretty trash. Well, they were.

Once again staying behind the three-point line, Tracy finds the nearest Spurs player with terrible, no good very bad hair, Brent Barry, and pulls up in his face. Not even two seconds left on the clock: splash.

81-80, Houston Rockets. A low-scoring affair, but one that instantly placed itself in the annals of basketball’s greatest moments. 13 points from 33 seconds. I don’t know if there’s a sport where that wouldn’t be spectacular.

(In golf, that’d be terrible, but golf is barely a sport and I played it in high school. We sucked.)

It wasn’t showing off or during a meaningless All-Star game, where defending is a seemingly unwritten and long forgotten rule; it was in the first few months of the season, and against a local rival during a comeback, one of the quickest in memory.

A feat like that will likely never happen ever again, one that I was alive to cherish.

Well, I saw it that night on SportsCenter, but it was still amazing to see, especially since Tracy has always been one of my favorite athletes.

No one else did that. Nobody. Go ahead, name someone – nope, they didn’t do it.

It’s a sacred moment in sports history, not just basketball. It’s likely that only basketball heads will know of it or remember it, but that’s enough. Let the greatest comeback ever achieved in 43 seconds by one person be cherished by those that truly appreciate how uncommon that was.

13 points in 33 seconds in an NBA game? Dude went from high school to the NBA and then did that. If you ask me, the second achievement is far superior.

As a reward for your patience (or for scrolling for two seconds) here’s the video in all it’s glory.