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Basketball and the Music Industry: Closer Than Ever

Whether someone follows the NBA or not, it would have been difficult to avoid hearing the controversial news that came out of Los Angeles about a week ago, when Clippers basketball team owner, Donald Sterling, made racist remarks in a phone call that caused him to be banned from the league for life. The league’s other owners intend to force him to sell the team and with no hesitation, and a few rap moguls are among a long list of public figures that are throwing their names into the ring as potential buyers.

Players With Game!

Brooklyn-native, Jay-Z was a minority owner for the Nets franchise and helped move them out of New Jersey to his hometown of Brooklyn, before selling his share of the team (he was forced to once he got involved in representing players as an agent). Now it seems Hov has inspired his peers in the rap game to try to follow in his footsteps. Fellow New York native, P. Diddy tweeted, “I’ll always be a Knicks fan, but I’m a business man. #DiddyBuyTheClippers #NameYourPrice.”

Meanwhile, west-coast rapper, Dr. Dre, who now is probably known more for his headphones by the younger generation than his actual music career, told TMZ when asked if he would buy the team, “I’m thinking about it, absolutely.” Southern rapper Rick Ross and Nick Cannon of San Diego both expressed interest as well. Although, these rappers are not necessarily the front-runners in terms of potential buyers, it is remarkable to think back at how far hip-hop has come in the past few decades for this to even be feasible.

During 1996 and 1997 the “beef” between Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, A.K.A. The Notorious B.I.G, escalated to the point where both men were killed and the division between the east and west coast was a miniature version of a civil war in the hip-hop community. Now, imagine rappers from different coasts, coming together to buy an NBA franchise.

Off Court & Off Stage:

It’s not uncommon to see professional athletes and famous musicians, or rappers, in particular, socializing off the court and off the stage.  There is a saying that “Rappers want to be ballers, and ballers want to be rappers.” The connection between the NBA and hip-hop is especially noticeable. Kids growing up in poor urban communities see basketball and rapping as two ways to get out of their environment, and many of their role models are athletes and musicians who came out of the same hardship. Whether these are the role models or father figures that set the best example in their personal lives is a different matter altogether, but one thing is certain; they found a way out of their situations using their talents.

If one or all of these rappers are successful in buying the LA Clippers, it would be a strong example of how far hip-hop has come, as well as how far someone can make it when they follow their dreams, and could give hope to kids living in poor urban communities.  Sadly, there are many families especially in the inner-city, where the father is absent and the types of role models that appear on TV are not the average guy who goes to college, gets a degree and raises a family. They are the rappers and ballers with Bentleys, throwing money in the sky. But it is important to realize that to get to that point, they at least had to have some business sense. Rather than bash on them to no end, let’s at least acknowledge something positive can be taken from this.

What’s Next?

The reality of 2014 is that most of the images shown on TV that give kids society’s definition of “success” are more about the outward appearance than inner values. But at the same time, these rappers showing that they are serious figures in business as well as entertainment are proving what is possible. And imagine the irony of a rich, racist white man being forced to sell the team to a group of rappers who he undoubtedly despises. Personally, I’d rather kids looked up to the guy on TV in the suit at the Oval Office, who went to law school and is now one of the most powerful people in the world. But that may not get the honeys’ attention as much as shiny jewelry.