Every rapper once wanted to be a baller and every baller wanted to be a rapper, but Twitter switched up the game. It’s no longer just about wanting to be Kobe, it’s also about having an informed opinion about why the Lakers should’ve signed him to a more salary cap-friendly contract and given him a minutes restriction.
From Lil Wayne’s appearances on ESPN to Jay Z’s advances in the sports agency world, traditional binaries are eroding. Enter Vince Staples, the 21-year old Long Beach native who has spent the last three years racking up a double-double as one of the best rappers out there, and reigning champion of Rap NBA Twitter.
You could compile a coffee table book of the best Staples basketball tweets, particularly his running hatred of Clippers point guard, Chris Paul. At the trade deadline, he quipped that “they should’ve traded Paul to the Sparks.”
Other four-point plays include: “Let's talk about a real problem in the black community why the fuck they keep letting Chris Paul and Carmelo put out Jordans.” “Kobe act like a myplayer.” And “Chris Paul always look like he getting caught in a lie when he play a point guard equal or better than him.”
His official Def Jam debut, last fall’s Hell Can Wait, was a mournful, snarling flashback to growing up in the LBC of the late '90s and early '00s. Staples created a modern West Coast classic dripping with vivid details: the screen door swinging as crackheads came looking for his father, the fading flowers on a friend’s tombstone, the semi-anonymous names slaughtered by policemen on the north side of Long Beach.
But with the NBA season coasting towards the playoffs, we talked to him about his skills at NBA 2K, his love of sneakers, and why he hates Chris Paul.
You boast a lot about your 2K skills. Are you really that good?
I’m the best ever. I have suffered several losses, but I will go down as the best in history. No one stays undefeated, but if you beat me once, you won’t again. I’ve only lost to the Heat or the Cavs, and I’m playing with exclusively the Magic and the Suns. If you give me someone like Oklahoma City, it’s a wrap.
Explain your horror about Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony getting their own Jordan lines.
You can’t have your own Jordans if you don’t have a championship. I’m not with it. Why would someone buy your Jordan? The whole point is that Jordan had rings. How many people wearing Chris Paul Jordans have you seen? I don’t know anyone who’s rocking Chris Pauls on an occasional day to go to Starbucks.
What do you think of the new Yeezys?
I’m with it. It’s kinda got a little Star Wars and a little Margiela. They’re like the Stargielas. Kanye can’t do nothing wrong in my book. He’s the most pivotal rapper in my lifetime. Think about it: What other rapper had shoes that matter? Jay Z put out those S. Dots. Game put out Huaraches. Kanye is doing the best of all of them. What he’s doing with Adidas is going to be massive.
What are your favorite Jordans?
The Jordan 4’s in black and red. The lightning Jordan 4’s. I also like the Jordan 17 Lows.
When did you start to hate Chris Paul?
When he got traded to the Clippers. They got good on the shoulders of Baron Davis and Blake Griffin, and I saw what Eric Bledsoe was going to be. I felt like it was a bad decision to get rid of him.
I understand Paul’s contributions and skill level. But I’ve seen him in the playoffs. There was the crazy time out. He singlehandedly lost a game with that crazy "and one" dribble move with 20 seconds left. He just does bonehead shit and has been doing it his whole career. Just look at his face. Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade play the dirtiest basketball I’ve ever seen.
Thing is, I fuck with the Clippers and Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford. They’re all really good. But the problem with the Clippers is that every time something bad happens they look at Matt Barnes to stand up for them. They need more guys like that, especially when you’re playing the slow and aggressive basketball in the playoffs.
But Blake Griffin continues to get better every year. He and Anthony Davis are the rare players who add something every off-season, like how Kobe used to do.
Do you watch any other sports?
Football is boring as fuck. Basketball Twitter is the truth. We need better coverage of basketball though. They have drones to bring you food, but we still get mad what Charles Barkley says. He’s in two different sections of my personal Hall of Fame: one for play and one for commentary.
Where do you stand on the importance of analytics?
It’s corny. What does it even mean in the end? No matter how good the Hawks are in the regular season, they’ll never win in the playoffs. The game is played on the court and analytics can’t tell you when a player is going to choke or not.
Are you a fan of the Lakers?
I feel like nobody over there understands the game of basketball except for Jeanie Buss. I’ve never been a Lakers fan in my life and never will be. The championship parades were cracking through.
So are you a Clippers fan?
When I was younger, it was the era when you had to like one of the teams that was close to you, and when I was in elementary school, my mom used to work at Toyota. They’d always give Clippers tickets away to the employees in exchange for working overtime and they had a corporate box. She would take me to Clippers games and I’d watch Cuttino Mobley and Lamar Odom and Elton Brand. That was a good team. I don’t know how they never made it work.
What did you think about the Donald Sterling racist comments?
Look, all 85 white year-old people are racist. Leave them alone, they’re gonna be dead in five years. They can’t help it. If you’ve been told your [whole] life to be like that, it’s gonna be hard to not feel like that. As for V. Stiviano, she’s trash. Number one: Why you fucking an old man? And number two: Why you fucking an old man?
I don’t fuck with the new Clippers. I want them to succeed, but I don’t fuck with them. The team doesn’t make any sense the way it was assembled and you can see it in the chemistry on the court. First of all, I never would’ve traded Bledsoe for J.J. Redick.
It had to deal with salary cap factors, too.
They could’ve afforded Bledsoe. Paul would’ve had to take a pay cut. If you want to win, you’ll take a pay cut. You’re rich regardless.
I wouldn’t have got Doc Rivers, either. He’s a good coach, but he put his son on the team, so that’s all I can say about it.
What about Kobe?
I fuck with Kobe; I just like making fun of him. Kobe is passionate. Everyone makes decisions that they shouldn’t do, so I understand him in that whole Karl Malone era. It’s sad to see Kobe go out like this. He doesn’t deserve it. He’s just gotten to be that age. Coming out of high school and playing for as long as he had, it was only a matter of time before he’d disintegrate.
But I like Jordan Clarkson a lot and I think Julius Randle will be really good. They’ll have some more bad years, but they’ll eventually bounce back. The Celtics were horrible for a long time, too. They obviously shouldn’t trade Kobe to another team because that would make the franchise the biggest piece of shit in the history of basketball. Sometimes you just have to lose for a little while before you can win again.
Did you play basketball growing up?
I played point guard in high school, but eventually I was just too short and asthmatic to go any further. I always wanted to play shooting guard because I wanted to be like Gilbert Arenas, but they knew that I’d shoot too much, so they made me play point. But I have crazy trophies from the church league. The BET Awards are behind those. My mom doesn’t give a fuck about the music awards. She’s most proud of the basketball trophies.
Where do you stand on Swaggy P?
Legend. Nick Young is one of the last players who looks like he’s having fun playing basketball and that’s an underrated quality. Personality is important in sports. At the end of the day, if kids are watching sports and grow up wanting to be these athletes, someone has to have fun and be cool for the kids. Even Chris Paul in the State Farm commercials — that gives kids someone to look up to, who is having fun with their job.
Who do you like in the playoffs?
If LeBron’s healthy, he’s going to win the East. He wins everything he’s in and deserves to get back to the finals. I’d like to see John Wall in the finals though, but I don’t know if it’ll happen. The Raptors have a chance too.
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The West is more up in the air. I like Memphis though, especially with Jeff Green. He’s the type of player they’ve lacked for years, and he could take them over the top. And Zach Randolph is the fucking man.