Basketball and hip-hop have crossed paths for decades. In the words of self-proclaimed No. 1 draft pick Drake: "I swear sports and music are so synonymous/ 'Cause we want to be them, and they want to be us."
To mark the start of NBA training camp, Rocks Off assembled an all-star team of rappers who ball better than their peers.
Master P, point guard: Despite his success in the music business, Master P actively pursued a career in the NBA. P once traded his diamond studs and gold fronts for an NBA contract with not one but two NBA teams. He played for the Charlotte Hornets during the 1998/99 season and the Toronto Raptors in 1999 pre-season.
Though he never actually played in the NBA regular season, P's street skills landed him in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), where he featured in 8 games for the Fort Wayne Fury. In 2004, he played for the ABA's Las Vegas Rattlers. At the height of his pro basketball career, Master P averaged 24 points, six rebounds, and eight assists per game in the summer league. His son Romeo has followed dad's footsteps, launching a rap career first, then pursuing a basketball gig at USC.
Cam'ron, shooting guard: Basketball was part of Cam'ron's formative years. Cam played for two amateur basketball organizations in New York City, Gauchos and the Riverside Hawks. Cam, a Shooting Guard in high school, once compared his offensive style to a 1999 Allen Iverson and his defensive style to that of Bruce Bowen's. We don't know about the Iverson thing, but Cam definitely has a sweet jumper.
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Snoop Dogg, power forward: Snoop is a true sports fan at heart. He's been coaching little-league football since 2003 and has become a staple at celebrity basketball games. Dude has some stunningly impressive ball-handling skills for an amateur. Need proof? Check out this video of Snoop and Game trading baskets at a celebrity game in Compton.
The Game, small forward: At first, nothing separates the 6'5" Jayceon Taylor from his teammates. Then you see the L.A. tat on his face and that familiar mug. When he's not busy crafting rhymes, the multiplatinum rapper moonlights as a guard/forward for the Los Angeles Slam in the American Basketball Association. Game plays for the Slam in the fall and winter seasons and renders his services to the team's West Coast Pro Basketball League affiliate Hollywood Jammers in the spring and summer. He averages about 28 PPG, which makes him one of the Slam's leading scorers.
Shaquille O'Neal, center: It's amazing how much Shaq has managed to succeed as a rapper with mostly mundane rhymes. Diesel is the only NBA player with a platinum plaque and a ring. His four solo albums all reached the Billboard 200 chart, thanks largely to an illustrious guest list that included everyone from Notorious B.I.G. to Wu-Tang members. Respect.
Bench: Romeo, Ma$e, Black Rob