The Hip Hop vs.NBA Beef Needs to Stop!

February 21st, 2013

(Photos from left: Scott Gries/Getty Images, Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Heineken)

By Gee King

Baseball may be Old America’s favorite past time and football Corporate America’s greatest moneymaker; but there’s something about both basketball and hip hop that’s allowed them to capture the heart of modern American culture for the past 30 years. Combining subtle improvisation with brilliant explosiveness, both embody the essence of our nation in ways no other sport or art form can imitate. Their parallel rises to the top of our national consciousness unofficially married the two, resulting in classic intersections of culture (From Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball” to Allen Iverson’s cornrows) as well as awkward collisions (The NBA’s anti-throwback dress code and the now cliché trend of players releasing rap albums both come to mind). But through it all, both sides have compromised to keep their odd American love affair alive.

Maintaining the balance hasn’t been easy, however. For every monumental partnership between Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets, fans on both sides have had to suffer through uncomfortable culture clashes like the recent episodes that pitted Lil Wayne against the Miami Heat and Wale against a Toronto Raptors announcer. While such incidents ultimately lead to growth and understanding, leaders from both cultures must stay aware of the others’ interests in order to avoid a potentially catastrophic war of worlds that would divide the fans that both need to survive.

No event better illustrates the potential of this partnership than NBA All-Star Weekend, which has been an unofficial hip hop holiday for over a decade. While NBA brass may not have initially been happy about the culture’s decision to adopt it’s yearly celebration of stars, 2013’s Houston show was the perfect example of how beautiful things can be between the alternate worlds. With superstars from both sides shining bright under the marquee lights during the on-court festivities and word of legendary after-parties filling Twitter and Instagram feeds after hours, it was almost a honeymoon weekend for both sides. But when Lil Wayne took his qualms with league officials to a nightclub after Sunday’s big game, the world got a taste of how ugly things can get in paradise when the balance of power is thrown off.

In the days since Wayne’s disrespectful rant, which included shouts of “F–k the Miami Heat,” and “I f—–d Chris Bosh’s wife,” both Weezy and league officials have attempted to patch things up publicly. But D.C. sports fanatic Wale’s run in with Toronto Raptors play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin during Wednesday’s Raptors vs. Wizards match-up was another silly spat that ruined the collaborative momentum and should never have played out in public. Hopefully these riffs inspire leaders from both sides to build more bridges (like the 2 Kings Dinner thrown by Jay-Z and LeBron James) and become more aware of the others’ best interests. Doing so will avoid disconnects like the ones we saw this week and let fans get back to enjoying images of their favorite MCs cheering their favorite ballers from courtside.

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