“I swear sports and music are so synonymous/cause we want to be them, and they want to be us.” Drake rapped these lines on Thank Me Now, his first album, and frankly, truer words have never been spoken. When you spot the Grammy-winning rapper sitting courtside at Toronto Raptors basketball games and with sports stars like Odell Beckham Jr., those lines seem realistic. And it’s hard to argue against that logic when you see athletes like Damian Lillard and Le’Veon Bell stepping up to the mic and showing their rap potential. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s feature in the music video for 3LAU, as well Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch’s appearance in a video in May, and now James Harden in a video for Travis Scott, rekindled memories of sports figures making cameos in music videos. Here are some of the best, as well as recent ones:
Artist: Big Pun
Song: Whatcha Gonna Do
Hailing from Brooklyn and Queens, respectively, former NBA players Stephon Marbury and Kenny Anderson were perfect for this music video. The video, taking place on the streets of New York at a local basketball court, featured Marbury and Anderson hooping, with Big Pun rapping on the side and occasionally hopping in to play with the two. The former basketball stars probably felt right at home trading shots with each other and the Bronx rapper.
Athlete: Hassan Whiteside
Artists: DJ Khaled (ft. Trey Songz, Jeremih, Future)
Song: You Mine
You have to skip to the 4:10 mark before Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside makes his appearance, but there he is, backing up the likes of DJ Khaled and Future as they enjoy their yacht ride. Whiteside isn’t really featured in this video, acting more as an extra, hype man, etc. The cameo seems odd at first but makes more sense when you consider DJ Khaled’s love for the city of Miami and the fact that Whiteside plays for the hometown Heat. It’s safe to assume they probably connected at a game before.
Artist: Joey Bada$$
22-year-old rapper Joey Bada$$ recently released a music video for his song, “Victory,” which was created as a collaboration with Mountain Dew for the NBA Playoffs. The basketball-themed video features props and Joey making related references like, “The kid from West Brooklyn/came with the thunder/Every day another triple-double entendre.” Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s feature was apropos in this case, along with other players like C.J. McCollum and Emmanuel Mudiay. The athletes aren’t playing basketball but can be seen vibing to the music throughout the video.
Athlete: LeBron James
Song: D.O.A (Death of Autotune)
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and rap mogul Jay-Z have a friendship that stretches from the time James entered the league in 2003. Jay-Z even wrote a diss song to support James when he was feuding with former player DeShawn Stevenson. In 2008, Jay-Z pulled James into his “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)” music video. James comes in at the 3:50 mark and can be seen playing one-one-one with the rap legend.
Athlete: Michael Jordan
Artist: Michael Jackson
Song: The Jam
Star power was through the roof when these legends came together for “The Jam” music video in 1992. The video opens up showing Michael Jackson seamlessly going through his iconic dance moves on a basketball court. Michael Jordan is then seen pulling off effortless dunks on a different court. Annoyed by the sound of Jackson’s music, Jordan throws his ball through the window and at Jackson who, not only catches the ball, but returns it back to Jordan through the basketball hoop. From then on, it’s game time! The two go head-to-head in a game of one-on-one and Jackson even shows Jordan to how to perform his famous dance moves.