There is no wolf in the Chinese Zodiac calendar and there is certainly not another entertainer like The Game. Yesterday, The Game released his sixth studio album, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, an 18-track project with features from your favorite rappers Tyga, Young Jeezy, French Montana, 2 Chainz and many more. If you have been following The Game from the beginning you know his interests (sneakers!), lifestyle, and music are heavily influenced by the game of basketball. Some say he’s the second-best ballplaying rapper currently doing it. He had to earn his rap name somehow, right?
The Game has been a stellar athlete his entire life. As a student at Compton High School, he played point guard, supposedly earning a basketball scholarship to Washington State University. To this day there is still speculation around The Game actually earning an athletic scholarship. Either way, Jayceon Terrell Taylor’s (The Game’s legal name) hope of making it as a basketball player was short lived, but his rap career began shortly after. With the release of his new album, we’re highlighting The Game’s Greatest Basketball Moments.
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Let’s fast-forward to 2005 when Game decided to become an owner and player for the Inglewood Cobras, a California-based professional ABA basketball team that he bought a percentage of.
“I am starting at either the No. 2 or the No. 3 position – not because I’m ‘The Game’ – but because I’ve earned the right,” he told allhiphop.com.
Of course, if you have game, no one will question that. If you can throw passes like this you can start on my team anytime. Unfortunately, the Cobras folded after just five games and Game once again retired from basketball, resorting back to rap full time.
One of Game’s biggest songs to date came when he linked with Robin Thicke to create 2010’s “Hustlin’ (Championship Anthem).” This track has been in my rotation ever since and I would listen to it before every intramural basketball game while in school at UMass. In the song, Game raps: “On the court, game point, fade away, nice one. Same court where the fiends get they white from.” This line is the epitome of Game’s life. He was once a successful basketball player, hitting game-winners at a young age, but then he started hustling and selling drugs in the streets.
Later in the song he makes a basketball reference, saying, “I’m in the hood with a Pancho, stackin’ Rajon Rondo,” meaning no matter the weather, he is in the hood making money.
The next year, Game linked up with new-age rapper Tyler The Creator and longtime friend Lil Wayne to create the smash, “Martians vs. Goblins.” Tyler and Game both take low blows at LeBron James, making fun of his hairline and poking fun at the rumor of a certain Delonte West rumor. It is safe to assume Game was no help in recruiting LeBron to the Lakers this offseason.
The Game has been a loyal West Coast citizen his entire life. During the summers many athletes, entertainers, and celebrities participate in the Drew League, a pro-am summer league located in various parts of California. In order to keep his basketball skills sharp and also to prove to the world that he can actually hoop, Game is an active participant in the league. He can really ball and even though his shot is a bit abnormal, he can hit from anywhere on the court. He reminds me of Shawn Marion, with gritty defense, an unfamiliar shot, and all-around smart play.
Jayceon has improved his skill-set over the years. In the 2012 summer, he threw down a sweet dunk, proving to be more than just a shooter and distributor. (See what I did there?) The following summer, The Game threw a nasty no-look alley-oop to Houston Rockets All-star James Harden during a competitive Drew League match.
The Game is also a big advocate in giving back to the community, participating in charity basketball games whenever he can. He also played in a game with one of our favorite people, the vine sensation Lil’ Terrio.
Still if you know the man’s history, you know he’s had a beef or two, including with Kevin Durant. During the offseason, KD is a huge proponent of playing basketball wherever and whenever he can. The two faced off against each other during an extremely bloodthirsty Drew League game in 2013. A year later, the same competitive spirit arose from both of them again.
One of the biggest stories of the 2014 summer came after Game sank a basketball shot in which he thought won him $20,000 from KD. Voicing his frustration on Instagram, Game called out Durant. Luckily for the fans, a few days later after the two hashed it out. The Game apologized, said it was one big miscommunication, and Durant eventually donated his signature KD clothing and sneakers to The Game’s son’s summer league team. (After building a private court for his son’s team, maybe Game needed the money after all.)
Being from Compton, California, Game has always been an extremely loyal Lakers fan — check that tattoo on his face. Last year, as a guest appearing on ESPN’s SportsNation, Game even defended Kobe Bryant’s starting selection in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game after the Mamba had played in just two games during the season’s entire first half. #IhadChipsBeforeYouHadBraces — let’s get this trending again.
In fact, Game has always been forthcoming with the media, even admitting after Dwight Howard‘s suprise exit from Los Angeles last summer that he was going to burn his Howard No. 12 Lakers jersey, and telling fans to cut it half in order to have two jerseys with the number 1 on one and the number 2 on the other.
Basketball has always had a huge influence on Game’s life and career over the past 20 years. From his time in the Drew League to his “bet” with the NBA’s MVP to his on-camera moments, he’s hip-hop’s No. 1 pick.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @ImFitterThanYou