Wanna Be A Baller? The History of Songs Dedicated to NBA Players

From Jay-Z, to Gucci Mane, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, check out these tracks inspired by the league's best ballers.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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This week Yung Berg dropped a new track titled “Derrick Rose” dedicated to the flashy Chicago point guard (after last night's game-winner, the bandwagon has reached its load limit).

We're still wondering how a rapper with so many Ls could possibly associate himself with D-Rose a.k.a. this year's MVP. Anyway, Berg is just the latest rapper to have a song dedicated to a baller, other recent examples being Curren$y's “Scottie Pippen” and Waka Flocka's “Bill Russell.” But artists of all genres have had a long history of odes to their favorite basketball players. From the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Jay-Z, to Gucci Mane, here is the History of Songs Dedicated to NBA Players...


Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Magic Johnson" (1989)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
COMPLEX SAYS:  Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, and former guitarist John Frusciante are longtime Lake Show fans. Kiedis and Flea have held courtside seats for years. So, it's no surprise that they dedicated a track to Magic Johnson on their platinum-selling album, Mother's Milk, which was recorded right after the Lakers had won back-to-back titles. "Penetrating the lane like a bullet train / Comes the magic blood a telepathic brain / Knucklehead suckers better duck / When the buck comes through like a truck." Pause?

Teknoe, "(I Wanna) Be Like Mike" (1991)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
COMPLEX SAYS:  After the Bulls won the 1991 NBA Finals, Gatorade began their "Be Like Mike" ad campaign featuring the league's biggest star. The "Be Like Mike" catchphrase soon became common in households and playgrounds across America. Is it us or does this track seem more suitable for a presidential campaign or gospel song, rather than a jingle for a sports drink? MJ in the 90's >>> your favorite athlete in any era.

E-40, "Record Haters" (1996)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Rasheed Wallace, Washington Bullets
COMPLEX SAYS:  In an interview following his rookie season, Rasheed Wallace stated his support of East Coast artists like the Wu-Tang Clan but also mentioned how he wasn't feeling certain new artists (nationally speaking), specifically E-40. Well, that was all the fuel 40 Water needed to drop this diss track on his Tha Hall of Game album. If you thought E-40 would stay in his lane and let a baller like Sheed slide, you're wrong. Dude is from the Bay, where they go dumb, remember?

Aaron Carter, "That's How I Beat Shaq" (2001)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
COMPLEX SAYS: This track was Aaron Carter's third single off of the album Aaron's Party (Come Get It). SMH. Throughout the song Carter talks about how he upset the four-time NBA champion in a game of one-on-one. With song concepts like this, it's no surprise dude ended up in rehab earlier this year.

Vermont, "Ballad of Larry Bird" (2002)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics  
COMPLEX SAYS: Why did this indie rock band from Milwaukee choose Larry Legend as a subject in their love song? We have no clue. Why they're named Vermont when they're obviously from the state of Wisconsin? Beats us. All we know is that these guys (much like most other white people) loved them some Larry Bird enough to make a song about him. No 'cism.

The Ziggens, "Pistol Pete" (2002)

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PLAYER, TEAM: "Pistol Pete" Maravich, 
COMPLEX SAYS:  The Orange County-based band The Ziggens penned this track about the memorable but short life of the late, great Pistol Pete Maravich. Pistol Pete tragically died of a heart attack at the age of 40 during a pickup game. No disrespect, but something tells us he would've preferred a song from a another band besides this poor man's Sublime. #justsayin'

Jay-Z, "Blow the Whistle Freestyle" (2008)

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PLAYER, TEAM: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers and DeShawn Stevenson, Washington Wizards
COMPLEX SAYS:  During the first-round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs, a feud arose between DeShawn Stevenson and LeBron James, when the Wizards guard called King James overrated. James responded by saying Stevenson's criticism of him would be like Soulja Boy saying something negative about Jay-Z. Soulja Boy responded by telling James to keep his name out of his mouth and even showing up to a game in support of Stevenson. A couple nights later at a party hosted by James in a D.C. nightclub, the DJ dropped this diss track by Hova as a response. All that bullshit and Bron Bron still didn't sign with the Nets last summer, huh? Fail.

Shaq, "Kobe, Tell Me How My Ass Tastes" (2008)

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Lil Wayne, "Kobe Bryant" (2009)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
COMPLEX SAYS: Weezy dropped this track right before the 2009 NBA Finals where the Orlando Magic faced the Los Angeles Lakers. While Wayne may have seemed like a Stan, Mamba did go on to score 40 points in Game 1 as he led the Lakers to win the series in five games. We're sure Bron Bron would also like some motivation from Weezy, but that's not happening.

Gucci Mane (feat. Yo Gotti), "Worthy & Erving" (2009)

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PLAYER, TEAM: James Worthy, Los Angeles Lakers; Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers; George Gervin, San Antonio Spurs
COMPLEX SAYS: Gucci Mane continued his Wilt Chamberlain mixtape series hosted by the Trap-A-Holics with the "Worthy & Erving" edition. In this track, La Flare likens his ability to flip bricks and stunt in Chevy donks to the hardwood skills of throwback ballers. Gucci Mane rapping about George "The Iceman" Gervin? Damn, we're getting chills just thinking about the number of "Brrr!" ad-libs dropped on this one.

Young Jeezy, "23-24 (Kobe, LeBron)" (2009)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers & LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers 
COMPLEX SAYS:  As you already know, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have been rappers' favorite ballers to make reference to over the last few years. Jeezy used the two All-Stars for the hook of this track which took shots at Gucci Mane and OJ Da Juiceman. The meaning of 23-24, you ask? The comparison of kilo coke prices to the jersey numbers of the NBA's biggest stars, duh! We're sure commissioner David Stern loved it when this joint dropped.

Troop 41, "Do the John Wall" (2010)

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PLAYER, TEAM: John Wall, Kentucky Wildcats
COMPLEX SAYS: Before J-Wall started doing the Dougie as a baller in the pros, homie had his own dance and a track to go with it thanks to this North Carolina-based group. Sidebar: "The #1 Most Anticipated Song and Dance of the Year"? FOH, fam.

Lil B, "Reggie Miller" (2010)

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PLAYER, TEAM: Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers 
COMPLEX SAYS: With this track, Lil B raised Reggie Miller's status to a class of legends that include Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Clinton, Mel Gibson, and Jesus. We're just surprised he didn't drop a "Bitches on my dick cuz I look like Reggie Miller" line in there. That probably wouldn't have been a good look, though. Still, thank you Based God!


Cool & Dre f/Charles Barkley, "I May Be Wrong (But I Doubt It)" (2011)

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