Born in Gary, Indiana, the critically revered gangsta rapper is a tried-and-true Chicago Bulls and Bears fan. But since moving to Los Angeles in the middle years of the last decade, he's adopted a certain affinity for the local squads. The former L.A. Weekly cover subject
has been known to rock a Dodgers hat and throwback '80s polyester jersey a la Steve Garvey. His downtown apartment is only a few blocks from Staples Center. His live tweets of Lakers games have been as hilarious as they are depressing.
Gibbs latest album - a psychedelic robbery spree called Pinata
- boasts a song called "Lakers." It's partially a tribute to his adopted hometown and partially a flashback to how he arrived in the Golden State. There's even a shout out to Magic Johnson. It's not about to replace "I Love LA" as the Staples theme music, but in a year when the purple and gold are posting their worst season since coming West, it's the best thing to bear the Lakers name in 2014.
There's a feature on Gibbs and his collaborator Madlib in next week's print edition. In the interim, the head of the "ESGN" crew discussed the state of the Lakers, the NBA, and his own skills on the basketball court - including the time he destroyed Brian McKnight.
First question: do you think the Lakers should fire Mike D' Antoni?
Hell yeah, especially if Kobe said he doesn't want to play for him anymore. They gave Kobe that $50 million to play two more years. That means D' Antoni is out of there.
For one: you fucking up. You not using Pau Gasol the right way. How is Wesley Johnson a power forward? D' Antoni should be coaching girls basketball in Czechoslovakia. His game is so Euro. He'll never win an American NBA championship.
What teams are you rooting for in the West?
I like the Warriors. I like their squad because they're a real dynamic team. David Lee is a good big man. Harrison Barnes is a beast and can play the 3 or 4. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can shoot from anywhere. They probably have the best backcourt in the league. That's a solid team.
What about the East?
Too many dead teams. The West has ten teams you'd want to watch play. The East has two.
What do you think about Phil Jackson going to run the Knicks?
He's going to end up coaching them. At first, I thought he was using the Knicks as leverage to go run the Lakers. But the Lakers are a family business. Jim Buss doesn't want his future brother-in-law telling him what to do.
The Knicks are desperate. They want a championship and he's going to end up revamping them and coaching them. Half the motherfuckers on that team are going to be gone next year.
Do you think they'll re-sign Carmelo Anthony?
If Phil's there, he's staying. And they had to sign Phil to keep Carmelo.
What would you do if you were the Lakers in the off-season?
First of all, I'd never been in this situation. I'd have hired Byron Scott or Brian Shaw before I would've hired Mike Brown, let alone Mike D' Antoni. I would've got someone who was familiar with the organization and who the players respected.
What do you think about the Lakers giving Kobe that contract?
It was one of the smartest decisions they made over the last five years. What would fans have preferred? That Kobe retires a Bull? He needed to retire a Laker.
How good do you think he's going to be these next two years?
He hit a ceiling. He is where he is and he's not exactly going to come back and put up Kevin Durant numbers. That's what he'd have to do to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list, so nah, he ain't going to do that.
Who do you think is the best player in the league?
What do you think the Bulls should do in order to make themselves a championship team?
Get Carmelo Anthony.
Do you think he could fit on a Tom Thibodeaux-coached team?
Hell yeah, because he'd have to play some fucking defense. If Derrick Rose came back and they got Carmelo Anthony, they'd win the championship. They wouldn't even have to trade anyone for him; they could get him as a free agent.
Do you think the Heat will keep all of the big three?
I do. They're going to ride that until the wheels fall off. I hope LeBron went somewhere else, but I don't think he's going to. He likes where he's at. Ain't no income tax in Florida. He got a big ass crib. He ain't going anywhere. Only place he would go was to the Lakers, but I don't see that happening.
Where do you see LeBron among the greats?
If he gets another ring this year, I think you can say he's the greatest since Jordan. Then Kobe.
Who do you see coming out of the West?
Probably the Spurs unless K.D. kicks their ass out. I hate the Spurs though. Another team I like is the Trail Blazers. They ain't gonna win shit, but I like them.
What about the Clippers?
I like the Clippers too, but they ain't gonna win shit either because they have too many inconsistent players. Chris Paul is going to have to average 20 a game and get Blake Griffin 28 to 30 a game in the playoffs if they're going to win.
Don't you think D' Andre Jordan stepping up his game is going to help them make a deeper run?
He has to hit his free throws though. If Jamal Crawford catches fire though, they could be dangerous now that I think about it.
And Danny Granger.
Yeah, they could maybe do it. I'd like to see the Clippers or the Warriors go to the Finals.
How are you as a basketball player?
I'm decent. I play like LeBron [laughs].
I'm aggressive. I didn't have a jump shot at first, but now I got one.
Do you get into a lot of fights on the basketball court?
No, not any more. No one wants to fight me now.
Did you used to?
Back in the day. You had to fight at Carolina Park where I grew up. You'd fight every week.
How do you think sports and rapping are like each other?
When you're doing a rap show, that's basically an athletic event. You have to control your breathe and move around. There's a lot of fat niggas that can't even move on-stage.
Who is the best rapper you played against in basketball?
I ain't played against too many rappers. But Brian McKnight sucked. I housed Brian McKnight in the gym. He was acting like a bitch. He was on my team at first and kept shooting all these dumb ass shots and I'm like damn, man, why you keep shooting all that shit? Next game, we end up losing because of him and he ends up on the other team, and I'm like now, I'm going to house your ho-ass and I did. Fuck Brian McKnight, he sucked.
Freddie Gibbs is too raw for ESPN. The live censors could never move quick enough to stop the curse words or comic slander. Ask him a question about professional sports and you will get the truths that you usually only hear in a bar argument. At his most opinionated (usually on Twitter after about a half-dozen blunts), he can make Charles Barkley look like Ryan Seacrest.