J.Cole Talks LeBron, Kobe & All Things Basketball
During my “Hotel Thrillist” trip last weekend, I had a chance to chat with Roc Nation rapper, J.Cole. We talked strictly basketball, since it is NBA finals time—and basketball is his favorite subject besides hip-hop.
It’s NBA Finals time. Who are you going for?
“Lakers, all day! Kobe Bryant man! I love the Lakers.”
Did you watch the game (Game One)?
“Yes I did, I was very happy.”
Did you happen to catch the Nike commercial that premiered during the game with Kobe Bryant (featuring Andre 3000) covering The Beatles “All Together Now”?
“I saw it online, it’s dope. Thought it was incredible. Thought it was good. It was iconic, as they say.”
Out of the the guys currently playing in the NBA, who would you pick to use your new single “Who Dat” in an endorsement commercial?
“Well of course I’m going to go with LeBron, only because you know he’s a man-child. But probably more like a Chris Paul [New Orleans Hornets] since there’s a New Orleans connection. Who else? Dwyane Wade [Miami Heat] or maybe some of the new guys, they could use that. It’s kind of like a ‘I’m not all the way established’ song, but ‘watch out for me.’ Like maybe Kevin Durant [Oklahoma City Thunder] or Derrick Rose [Chicago Bulls].”
Should people “watch out” for J.Cole?
“Yeah, absolutely. That’s why the song is like that. I know people don’t want to hear it…they’re like, who’s this?”
Besides LeBron, are there any other players you’re a huge fan of?
“Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Penny Hardaway—man, forever! I like Derrick Rose. I like a lot of players for different reasons.”
Are there any players that you’ve been following their careers since college?
“Kevin Durant, but he was only there for a year. Players don’t stay long. Raymond Felton; there’s a few. I’m a Carolina fan, so anyone that comes out of there I follow, like Vince Carter. I’ve been following him forever.”
Let’s talk about that. What did you think about North Carolina’s past season (20-17, 5-11 ACC)?
“I was disappointed; I felt like they played with little heart. Like the team wasn’t a team, just kids with a bunch of talent that didn’t buy into the coach. But I felt it was necessary, because some of these kids that thought they were the sh*t now know they’re not. So next year when a spot is taken by an incoming freshmen, or you know a coach changes the lineup, there will be no questions as to why. You had your chance!”
Who are you watching out for next year at UNC?
“I don’t even know man. We got this kid that was in the McDonald’s All-American game. I don’t know who he is. He’s like a 6″10 swing man. Hope he brings us something.”
I heard you’re into playing basketball video games?
“Yes, I love basketball games.”
You used to play basketball?
“Yeah, I used to play basketball.”
“I played high school ball, didn’t play college ball. But actually, I was in my best physical basketball shape in my freshmen, sophomore and junior year. Senior year I fell off a bit.”
Do you think your background as an athlete helped you prepare to be a great rapper?
“I think just my competitive nature period. From basketball to academics, or whatever the case is, I’m just a competitor. I don’t like to be bad at anything. So if I’m bad, I’m going to work till I’m good. If I’m good, I’m going to work until I’m great and crushing everyone else. I guess that’s what came from basketball.”
When did you start playing basketball?
“Probably four or five years old.”
What was the reason you picked up the ball? Do you remember what it was?
“Because I’m black (laughs). Naw, I’m playing! It was just one of them things. If you got the right parents, they’re going to give you a basketball at some point…they should.”
LeBron—where do you want him to go?
“I want him to stay in Cleveland for the rest of his career.”
Why is that?
“I believe in legacy, and certain things define your legacy. I feel like him leaving and playing for two different teams for a long period of time to me is a bad look. Only because I’m thinking of Jordan, I’m thinking of Kobe; they stayed with one team their whole career. But I also feel like he left without a championship…he didn’t bring them a championship. I feel like that’s going to be a bad spot on his legacy. When it’s all said and done, I feel he has the potential to be the greatest ever.”
That’s the same type of legacy you want to have?
“Yeah. Yes [laughs].”
You being competitive and all…
“Absolutely. I don’t want to sound too crazy, but you know, 15 years from now I want to be included in those conversations.”