Phil Jackson, of all people, recently had some harsh words for “Fix The Knicks,” the odd, showtuney-tune penned by New York Knicks owner James Dolan. (You can hear it here.)
Dolan needs either “a better lyricist or a better musician,” Jackson said. Ouch! Of course, it's hard to disagree with him, but this is hardly the first time music and basketball have meshed poorly. That hasn't stopped a couple of decades worth of NBA players from attempting to etch out second careers in hip-hop. Perhaps Jackson might like their styles better? In any case, here are five ballers he might want to consider popping onto a playlist.
5. Kobe Bryant
“Thug Poet” (featuring 50 Cent)
A hometown hero he might be, but Kobe Bryant's skills haven't translated from the court to the booth. His intended jump-off anthem “K.O.B.E.” — which relied on the grating vocals of Tyra Banks and a riff re-played from 7th Wonder's classic “Daisy Lady” — failed to, um, get air. Some slight salvation, however, came from the single's b-side, the Trackmasters-produced “Thug Poet,” which snatched a Nas vocal for the hook and closed with a rap from 50 Cent, recorded during the rapper's pre-fame years when he was signed to Columbia Records.
4. Ron Artest
“We Will Rock You” (featuring Chamillionaire & Paul Wall)
The infamous Queensbridge housing projects have nurtured much rap royalty: Nas, Marley Marl, Mobb Deep, and Ron Artest, whose off-court side-career shows no signs of slowing since his 2006 debut album, My World. Since then Ron-Ron has dropped mixtapes hosted by DJ Drama (Kings of Queens) and DJ Felli Fel (Ball'n), the latter showcasing the QB kid spitting with Houston heroes Paul Wall and Chamillionaire.
3. Jason Kidd
“What The Kidd Did” (featuring Money B)
On '94's less than stellar B-Ball's Best Kept Secret compilation, Oakland-raised Jason Kidd called in Bay Area favors and went back-and-forth with Digital Underground mainstay Money B on “What The Kidd Did.” (The G-funk-styled production comes courtesy of Quincy Jones's own kid, QD III.) It's a tale of Kidd's come up, from days in high school where “the fools didn't know how to act” to success in the form of driving around in a Benz, “every chick that I pass smiling and waving.” Vital information also gleaned here: A J Kidd party, if you're ever invited to one, just don't stop!
2. Allen Iverson
This was is so edgy that the NBA banned it. It's not only full of certified ignorant rap boasts like “Come at me with faggot tendencies/ You'll be sleeping where the maggots be” and vows that “This type of murder don't need no hook/ Just 40 fuckin' bars from the mouth of a crook,” it also makes brazen use of gunshot sound effects. The attempts at a rap career by Allen Iverson — a/k/a/ Jewelz — was never going to gain the approval of NBA head honcho David Stern. In fact, Iverson's planned album never moved beyond this one promo-only single. Sadly it was released before 50 Cent blew up, as it could have been inspired a G-Unit Ballers imprint.
1. Shaquille O'Neal
“Still Can't Stop The Reign”
Shaq's rap vault is positively cavernous, with the big man having notched five full-length albums since '93's Shaq Diesel. He's spit on the same track as Jay-Z, towered over A Tribe Called Quest's Phife in the studio, and gotten gritty with RZA and Method Man on the impressively raw “No Hooks.” But it's his performance on “Still Can't Stop The Reign,” which teams him up with the late, great Notorious B.I.G., that's remembered most fondly. Sure, big Shaq doesn't outshine Biggie on the track, but then who does?