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Rap Game: The NBA Player-Rapper Comparisons Complex Got Wrong

Posted by Nathan S. on 11/18/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Debates, Sports, Rap Game

Once again it's on. Now I won't front, I consider RefinedHype to be the reigning champion of "Rap Game" discussions; aka comparing NBA players and rappers. When I see someone else take a crack at their own Rap Game selections, I start salivating. (Not literally, figuratively salivating, although sometimes I do drool - thanks concussions!.) 

So when people started hitting me on Twitter asking if I'd seen Brian Joseph's article for Complex, I had to read it, and what I found inspired one of the most in-depth editions of this series yet. 

In my opinion Josephs nailed some of this selections, in particular I like the Kevin Durant as Kendrick Lamar, especially when placed against the Lebron as Drake comparison. But this shit is only fun when we're debating, and he also definitely has some selections that need to be debated. With no further ado, let's get going...

Complex Says: JR Smith = Lil Wayne 
RefinedHype Says: I get where he's at with this one. Especially when you factor in Lil Wayne's recent work, they're both very erratic players who don't know any way to play but their way and can be either brilliant or frustratingly terrible. 

In the context of their careers though, I just can't co-sign this one. Love him or hate him, Lil Wayne is a first ballot hip-hop hall of famer who's sold more albums over the last decade than almost anyone, been a perennial franchise player and was once arguably the greatest alive. JR Smith, on the other hand, hasn't even been an All-Star, let alone won a championship, and never been in any rational best player alive discussion.

As we've already explained in-depth, Lil Wayne is clearly Allen Iverson.  

Complex SaysTim Duncan: = Nas 
RefinedHype Says: Again, this one's close, I have no real problem with it. Both are masters of their craft, fundamentally sound and impressively consistent over decade-plus careers. 

The only place I differ slightly is in the "overlooked" category. I think a big part of Tim Duncan's career involves how little respect he gets from the average NBA fan - you almost never hear his name come up in "greatest ever" convos - even though his four championships put him just behind Kobe. Considering that, as I previously outlined, I'd go more Black Thought although, again, Nas is a respectable call.  

Complex Says: Kevin Garnett = Meek Mill 
RefinedHype Says: Full disclaimer: This one makes me feel some time of way, and it has to be because I'm a born and bred Celtics fan. So with that bias disclaimer in mind, WHAT??? Did you just compare an 18 year vet, NBA champion, former NBA MVP and 15-time All-Star to a guy who's only dropped one album, and that album hasn't even gone gold? I get that they're both very intense and talk shit a lot, but past that, Meek's got a long way to go before his name can follow KG's.

Instead, I'd call KG the Rap Game Method Man. Same intensity, equivalent longevity, proven they can succeed solo but at their best when surrounded by a great team, etc. There, that's much more like it. Now I can stop banging my head against a pole.  

Complex Says: John Wall = J. Cole 
RefinedHype Says: A year ago I would have been much more inclined to agree here, they're both the young, highly-touted prospect, but I think the commercial and critical success of "Born Sinner" now puts J. Cole out of Wall's league. "Born Sinner" isn't quite a championship for Cole, but it's at least a playoff series win. Point is, he's now a proven winner who's not yet truly elite, while Wall's still very much unproven. 

For Cole, maybe more of a....Russell Westbrook? Young, won some playoff games but no championships, one of the league's best point guards but not really in the best conversation, a lot of people question their style. Although...Russell's game is all about flash and speed, while Cole's more of a fundamentals guy.  

Complex SaysKevin Love = Action Bronson 
RefinedHype Says: As Bill Simmons pointed out in his "Book of Basketball", sports columnist will really stretch a same-race player comparison before they'll do a cross-racial comparison that makes complete sense, and hip-hop writers are no different. That's why Asher Roth got compared to Eminem so much, even though their music and personnas were almost completely opposite. So I guess it's not a surprise that hip-hop NBA comparisons suffer from the same syndrome. 

Kevin Love is one of the more fundamentally sound, clean cut, least flashy players in the NBA. You often don't realize his impact until you look at the box score and start counting up the assists and rebounds. Action Bronson's game is almost the complete opposite. He relies on pure originality, a certain shock factor and can't be ignored. 

I'd call Kevin Love more of a Nate Dogg type, always making those around him better, very valuable player, always did what was asked of them but were never the solo superstar. 

Complex Says: Zach Randolph = Rick Ross 
RefinedHype Says: Huh, man, tough one. I ran this by Lucas and he completely agrees with the Zach Randolph call. In his words, "Won't ever wow you and you might hate his game, but it is effective. Not especially talented or gifted, but does well considering." 

Damnit...that's a good point. I guess it's not that I think this one's wrong, it's that I feel like there's a better one out there, although I'm struggling to come up with it. On Twitter people have thrown out Vince Carter and Kevin Love (bonus points for the cross-racial comparison), don't know if those are exactly right either. 

Suggestions? Or is Randolph really the best pick? 

Complex Says: Chris "Birdman" Andersen = Riff Raff 
RefinedHype Says: Another example of a writer being afraid to make a cross-racial comparison, although....this one might not be far off. Both outlandish, both covered in ridiculous tattoos...I guess my central struggle is coming up with any NBA player who has a similiar game to Riff Raff. He's more like one of those And 1 players who pulls off some ridiculous dribbling but then misses the shot after he crosses someone up. 

Hmmmm...I'll give this one to Complex until I can think of anything better.

Complex Says: Dwayne Wade = Wale 
RefinedHype Says: Dwayne Wade called, he says he hates you forever.

I really dig the comparison here between Wade bringing on Lebron and Bosh to Wale moving over to MMG, well played sir. Although I'd argue that crucially there at the time Wade was the man who was bringing on the other two to his team, while Wale was always clearly moving over to MMG to become Ross' right hand man.

Again, in the context of their careers though, I just can't see this one. With Wade we're talking about a three-time champion and nine-time All-Star who at one time had the top-selling jersey in the NBA. Wale has yet to be anywhere near that popular and successful of a rapper. Instead, I'd call Wade more of a....Busta Rhymes? At one time just an astoundingly talented and popular rapper who's now almost inevitably breaking down in his old age.

I'm cool with Busta for now, but I'm gonna keep marinating on it...

Complex Says: Russell Westbrook = Kanye West 
RefinedHype Says: Nope, nope, nope, nope and nope. 

Now, I've laid out the case in-depth for Kanye as Michael Jordan, and I'll stand by it although I acknowledge that in many ways Jay Z is really the only correct call for Jordan. But no matter who you think is Kanye's NBA equivalent, I think we can all agree it's not Russell Westbrook.  

So there you have at. Thanks to Brian Josephs for inspiring another round of absudly over-complicated "Rap Game", these are always a good time. Someday we'll have to do it while drinking in person. Until then, I fully expect the conversation to get stupid deep in the comments. 

Have at it RefinedHype Nation...

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