With the NBA lockout now costing the league's players their paychecks, many of them have turned to alternate employment options. And while some head overseas to play and others find jobs in the coaching ranks, it seems they've united on one front, as all 450 members of the union are scheduled to release rap albums this week.
The Bucks Stephen Jackson got the trend started, when he headed to the studio to work on his debut, "What's A Lockout?" Soon after, teammate Brandon Jennings recorded his own album and the recording bug quickly spread around the league.
"The NBA and hip-hop have always been closely linked," said music critic Dave Marsh. "It only made sense that some players would head to the recording studio during this extended hiatus. But this… this might be too much."
Among the unlikely players coming out with albums this week are Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio, 76ers sharpshooter Kyle Korver and Celtics reserve Carlos Arroyo, who confusingly collaborated with Pitbull on every track. And while this week marks the rap debut for many of the players, others are returning to the game after a long absence.
"I always thought the world needed a follow up to 'K.O.B.E.'," said Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose rap debut was a critical and commercial failure. "On 'M.A.M.B.A.', I really get into the core of who I am."
Music industry insiders have said they haven't seen a flood of music like this since every man in England formed a Beatles-esque knockoff band in the late-'60s. And while some hold out hopes that the glut could produce a diamond in the rough, most are skeptical.
"The rapping is bad enough," said Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, "but what REALLY ruins thins are the horrible puns used as album titles."
Simmons then pulled a stack of CDs out of his desk to prove his point.
"OJ Mayo – 'Hold the Mayo'. Marc Gasol – 'M Marcs the G-Spot'. Hamed Haddadi – 'Who's Your Haddadi?' And that's just the Grizzlies! Don't even get me started on Steve Blake and Blake Griffin. You can't BOTH call your album 'The Blake Show'."
Nets owner and rap star Jay-Z expressed concern that the next week could mark the end of both of his industries.
"Brian Scalabrine playing basketball is embarassing enough," he said. "'Big Scal' rapping, and rhyming 'Scalabrine' with 'you're a weenie'. Man, that shit cray."