With the NBA playoffs in full swing, basketball is at the forefront of our minds — and, lately, it’s not just the gameplay we’ve been thinking about. There’s a strong legacy of the game and hip-hop co-mingling, not just with rappers supporting their favorite starting squads but players throwing down rhymes too. Deeper down the rabbit hole, we found a phenomenon that links running the point to dominating the cypher beyond any other position.
From the early days of AI and The Glove to this season with Damian Lillard, there’s a distinct correlation between handling the ball and handling the mic. Below we highlight some of our favorite rapping point guards moves, lyrically and on the court.
Despite Damian Lilliard's quiet, humble demeanor that lets his game speaks for itself, the Portland player might have the league's best flow. And while he hasn't actually released any songs, he's shown off his skills plenty with the highly popular #4barfriday he started, where participants like Paul George, Iman Shumpert, Lebron James, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, and Stephen Jackson have all pitched in to rap a 15-second, 4-bar verse on Instagram. See for yourself as he drops verses on Sway in the Morning. Damian Lillard makes the cut for both his flow and savvy to provide cool content to super fans like us.
#4BARFRIDAY: Check out Bleacher Report's ranking NBA stars' #4barfriday contributions and Lillard's launching the series below.
The Answer, aka A.I., aka The 3rd Degree, Allen Iverson torched the league from the moment he touched down. Just watch him crossing over Jordan (above) in his rookie year like it's old business. His club track "Jewelz" from his unreleased 2000 mixtape is pretty catchy and worth a listen while reminiscing about a brief moment when a 6 footer ruled the NBA with skills to keep the dance floors full.
Cedric Ceballos ft. Warren G
Cedric Ceballos might be best known for the NBA for the 1992 dunk contest where he dropped a blind-folded slamski, but off he came together with hip-hop crooner Warren G for a pretty classic jam. The video is an especially great mix of a White Men Can't Jump homage and classic house party video. Enjoy.
Gary Payton, the trash-talking high-scoring nine-time All-Star of the Seattle Supersonics (R.I.P), was the best of his era. Try his obscure "Livin Legal and Large" — a funky Warren G-inspired jam that earned its place on our list for its laid-back beat, undeniable funky baseline, and earnest flow.
The Oakland native, 10 time All-Star, NBA champion is also a pretty chill rapper. His 1994 track What the Kidd Did featuring Money B became a quick favorite. It has all the elements of the mid '90s laid back, sample-heavy hip-hop we grew up on, and some surprisingly smooth lyrics that match Kidd's chill playing style.
Iman Shumpert may not be not a true point but he's a natural ball handler and legit enough rapper who's letting his signature flat top grow to new unbelievable heights this season. For a quick musical primer, check out the Cav's "Anarchy", "Progress", and "Supaphly", then dive into his 2015 Cavs playoff anthem “The Offs" (below) with choice lines, like, “Coach got that look in his eyes ‘cause its playoffs and Kevin Love is open.”