If there were ever an official Player’s Ball for rappers and pro athletes it’d be All-Star weekend. This year, the two worlds convene in Orlando where there will surely be plenty of thirsty groupies, ballers trying to rap, and MCs attempting to ball. One star who is ill on the mic and has a rep for handling his own on the hardwood is Jadakiss. We caught up with the Yonkers MC to discuss to discuss Linsanity, his personal All-Star roster, and his role in the potential Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight.
What are your thoughts on the Jeremy Lin craze?
It’s good for the city. Especially coming of the Giants Super Bowl win. There was all the Amare and Melo talk at the start of the season then it turned out different than fans expected. The lack of point guard play was hurting us, so right before they were about to cut Jeremy they let him in. The graces and powers that be were in his corner and soon enough he had them on a seven-game winning streak, breaking records with the points he was scoring. So, I think it’s very good for the city. With New York being one of the biggest media outlets, I think it’s a little overwhelming for him right now but he is a solid player without a doubt. So, he’ll still continue to be productive.
With Melo now working himself back into the lineup, do you think that the team will eventually be able to gel?
I think it’ll be better than it was before. That whole team wasn’t playing right because there was no point guard on the floor. You need a general to run the floor. That’s what I was expecting to happen when Baron Davis came off his injury. Tony Douglas and the other guys couldn’t do it. I think [Iman] Shumpert is really better at the two position. Plus, now that they have J.R. Smith, that’s even better. We’re strong.
What are your thoughts on race being such an issue when talking about Jeremy Lin? More specifically, what did you think of Floyd Mayweather’s tweet?
He’s a good basketball player. At the end of the day, you know Asians are a big culture so this why when he goes to Toronto and other different markets he has so much support there. Even with Yao Ming, he was injured for the past three years but he was still leading in All-Star votes. So, that just shows you it is what it is when you come from an Asian descent. They show support for their athletes.
Floyd might have been a little over the top with that statement but there’s some truth to it. It's just that the Asians go extra hard for their athletes.
Floyd might have been a little over the top with that statement but there’s some truth to it. It's just that the Asians go extra hard for their athletes. They're online supporting and they're at the Garden with big signs everywhere.
If you were to compare your career in the rap game to an NBA player of the past or present, who would it be?
It’d be Melo or Jason Terry. Melo because he is an underrated superstar that scores willingly and that’s like me going in the booth and just doing what I do so easy. But it’s like I’m still the underdog. That’s why me and Melo really click like that. And as far as Terry, I think I got some similarities with my rap game and his basketball game because he’s like a quiet monster for Dallas. Dirk is the focal point, but when the JET comes off that bench and brings that chemistry with Dirk, that’s when Dallas is really a problem. So, I’m like that quiet monster. I come off the bench and create big massive noise in the industry.
Speaking of balling, when’s the last time you hit the court?
I ain’t ball in a minute. I’m heading to the Y in the next week because I got a Skills Challenge coming up with the JET at All-Star Weekend and somebody else against Jameer Nelson, Skip Bayless, and another athlete or actor. I got a Jordan event to do there with Melo, too. So, I’m gonna try to shoot some hoops before then. I’m trying to get it in so I’m not looking all crazy out there. [Laughs]
You’ve played in a few celebrity tournaments. Who would be in your starting five of non-athlete celebs?
Brian McKinght. He’s a good three or four to put on your team. Bow-Wow is a good guard. J. Cole being that he was just about to be playing college ball a few years ago. I would take my man Jackie Long, the actor from L.A. R. Kelly, too. Kells is nice in ball, too.
Do you have a specific go-to move on the court?
My game is in evolution right now. When I first started, I was more of a passer or facilitator, a lot of driving and dishing. Now in my older years, I’ve developed a nice little set shot so you can catch me on the perimeter now and I let them things fly. I still can penetrate and dish, too. I still got a handle but I’m just half a step slower, so I’m using my knowledge of the game and just shooting them jumpers when they leaving me open thinking I can’t shoot. Sort of like Jeremy Lin in that Toronto game where he crushed ‘em!
Back to the pros. We heard your favorite NBA moment was Reggie Miller dunking on the Nets in the playoffs?
Yeah, what made that moment so incredible was a play or two prior to that Reggie had hit a three from the top of the key. So, whoever the coach was at the time, set the same play up but Reggie did a head fake from the top of the key then came down the middle and dunked it with two hands. You're used to seeing Reggie shoot all of those threes but that’s why he caught them off guard. I said, “Yo, I got to get the Reggie Miller joint!” The stores weren't open at the time, but first thing in the morning I went and got the Reggie Miller Pacers jersey and rocked it all day. I was saying, “I’m Reggie right now! You saw what he did last night!”
That’s interesting because you’re a Knicks fan yet one of your favorite moments comes from arguably the biggest villain in Knicks history.
I’m a Knicks fan but if somebody is cracking the Knicks’ ass, I gotta give it up.
Yeah, I’m a basketball fan in general. A lot of sports fans they get their heart into it. I’m a Knicks fan but if somebody is cracking the Knicks’ ass, I gotta give it up. You got to give credit where credit is due. You can’t be a sore loser or a sore fan.
You also mentioned that your favorite player is Magic Johnson. We did a piece on athletes who’ve made more money after retiring and he was near the top. That isn’t usually the case for many athletes and rappers.
Definitely. I was actually able to run into Magic a few times. I met him at one of the Floyd [Mayweather] fights a few years back. I was introduced to Magic and kicking it with him. After we were formally introduced, one of the first things I said to him was “Yo, Magic. If I was to bring you some bread, like a few million, could you help me do the right thing with it?” And he was like, “Definitely Kiss. I’m surprised you even asked me that but I would definitely be willing to help you.” He was surprised that I was even on that tip at such a big fight with celebrities everywhere, that question kind of shocked him. But yeah, Magic is one of my favorite players of all time.
Why do you think it’s so common that athletes and rappers end up broke after retiring?
It’s usually the people around you and the bad decisions you make. Nothing is promised for long or forever, so you have to put something away for rainy days. Especially when you got kids. Especially when you’re taking care of family. You can’t jump out the window and get caught up in the hype with all that glitz and what not. It’s good to live good but it’s also good to know that those who come after you will be able to live good by you doing the right thing.
Why do so many rappers want to be ballers and visa versa?
I really still can’t figure out the connection on that because the financial status between an NBA player and a rapper is nothing alike. But there’s a common culture shared in both careers. So, it seems like all the ballers want to rap and the rappers want to ball. I guess that creates the relationship but it’s all just really a dream. Once you reach the zenith in your career then you start exploring. You’ve seen that with album releases by players like Shaq, A.I., or whoever.
My dream was to go to Syracuse. I wanted to be a part of the Orangemen. I actually thought I was going there up until around 10th grade when I knew that wasn’t really going to happen, so I started pursuing rap.
What were your thoughts on the lockout?
I understood that it was a business thing. So, with those types of situations, there’s always three sides to the story: There’s the side of the players, the owners, then the reality of the whole thing. But for me, I would have to be with the players because I don’t really know the owners like that. I know that most of those owners have billions of dollars so everything should be negotiable. The people who suffered the most off that lockout are the people who worked in the arenas at the concessions stands and what not because they really needed that money more than either one of the parties.
Were you shocked to see the Chris Paul-Lakers trade vetoed?
I think that thing right there will eventually be made into a movie, some type of ESPN 30 for 30, or something of that nature. Me and Styles P was having a big debate in the studio the other day about who are the superstars of the NBA. Who’s B-List, A-List, etc. The names that was coming from guys was crazy but then CP3 came up and Styles like, “CP3 is a star but he ain’t no superstar.” I had to shut the studio down right then and there. I said, “Have you ever seen David Stern veto a trade?!” Then everyone was like “Oh, you right. He definitely is a superstar.”
Did you feel one way or the other about the move?
That was just a way of showing that politics still rule. The powers that be can basically still do whatever they want to do. I’ve been watching sports since I was a baby and I’ve never read or heard of anything remotely similar to that. I didn’t understand it at all.
If you were coaching the U.S. Men’s basketball team, who would be on your starting five?
You have to go Kobe and LeBron, that’s the two and the three. I’d squeeze Melo in there, too. He and Bron could be the three or the four. Next would be Dwight Howard and then D-Rose. Nah, actually, I’d put Chris Paul in there. Yeah, they wouldn’t lose a game, a scrimmage, nothing at the Olympics.
Your "The Champ Is Here" mixtape series has a boxing theme. What are you thoughts on the Fight of the Century that has yet to happen?
Believe it or not, I have a lot to do with this Pacquiao vs. Floyd fight whenever they sign off because that’s when me and Green Lantern are actually going to start preparing “The Champ Is Here 4.” So, we got to get Vegas, the promoters, and all those people on the same page so that we can get this music out. I put the last one out after the last Floyd fight, so I’m just trying to keep it a tradition.
Yes, yet another reason why this has to go down. If and when it finally does happen, who has the advantage?
I think Floyd is pound-for-pound the greatest fighter.
I think Floyd will win. I think Floyd is pound-for-pound the greatest fighter. Sometimes the stuff he says makes people mad and they may not like him for that but in that ring, he’s incredible. He’s undeniable. It’s just that some people don’t like him ‘cause he’s cocky with it. When you overlook all that and focus on what he’s done for boxing, no one else is doing it like him. Let me just say that Pacquiao is definitely a great fighter but he lost already and Floyd’s undefeated. That’s something Pacquiao has against him.