IIn honor of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, ESPN has brought together the culture’s top voices to write about their favorite athlete names in hip-hop history. Below is a collection of essays.
Kendrick Lamar on Former NBA Coach Phil Jackson
by Jayson Buford
Big Sean’s “Control” (2013), which starred Kendrick Lamar, ups the ante in the rap competition so much that it sounds like a lecturer and has lyrics that made Phil Jackson speak out publicly for perhaps the first time ever to comment on rap. Halfway through his three-minute verse, Lamar mentions the name of the coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers dynasties: “If Phil Jackson came back, I still wouldn’t coach.”
When Kendrick Lamar told Phil Jackson that he was no longer a coach
Common’s attribution Serena Williams demanded respect for the GOAT
by Katie Barnes
Serena Williams is an icon, the GOAT, a tennis legend and probably the most well-known female athlete in hip-hop, but her pop culture recognition has often varied.
How Common told the truth about Serena Williams’ true worth
How Ghostface Killah made the Yankees’ awesome Graig Nettles cool again
by Alphonse Pierre
For a young baseball player who desperately wanted to play second base but ended up landing on third base, a freestyle by Ghostface Killah helped him accept his new position.
How Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah made Yankees legend Graig Nettles cool again
The Intoxicating Power of Jordan, J. Cole and The Lion King
by Jada Gomez
Inspired by the career of Michael Jordan and an iconic Disney character, J.Cole released one of the most moving songs of his career.
Supported by Michael Jordan, J. Cole took it to a new level with “Return of Simba”.
Why Will Smith’s hilarious dig at Mike Tyson never got across
by Sean Malcolm
In 1989, it was unimaginable that any sane person could beat Michael Gerard Tyson in any match (cough cough…Mitch Green), let alone a professional boxing match. But in the delusional mind of Will Smith — better known at the time as hip-hop prodigy, The Fresh Prince — he believed he could score fair with the best fighter on the plane.
How The Fresh Prince collapsed under the heat of Iron Mike
Jadakiss reflects on NBA legend Sam Cassell
by Eric Rosenthal and Jeff Rosenthal
Hip-Hop Hall of Famer Jadakiss on how NBA legend and Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell made it into one of the rapper’s most memorable lyrics.
A lyrical name drop is deserved, and NBA legend Sam Cassell honestly said so