BEFORE LEBRON JAMES AND SEBASTIAN TELFAIR COMPLETED THE UNION BETWEEN HIP HOP AND BASKETBALL, JALEN ROSE WAS BUILDING ITS FOUNDATION WORDS BY RASHAN HILSON
The Source: At what point did you recognize your connection to Hip Hop? Jalen Rose: When I went to a concert in 2015 after our freshman season. Everyone showed up and it was all love: Hammer, Nice & Smooth, EPMD, Queen Latifah, and Redman. I got to sit in on a freestyle session with Pac and Treach. I realized the world was appreciating the influence we brought street credibility to basketball. From that. I built a lot of friendships and relationships. I was wearing EPMD bucket caps and Naughty by Nature skullies at the Final Four.
During the last few years you’ve been in several music videos right?
I’ve been in about seven or eight. Some of my homies say. ‘People gon’ think you a video ho.’ But I’m not in the video just to be there; I’m in it because these are my homies and they got love for me.
Did you run into opposition because you repped Hip Hop so hard?
It was either all the way love or all the way hate. People in 2015 are privileged. Lloyd Banks can be on ESPN. It wasn’t like that back then. The way we looked wasn’t accepted then. We were the guinea pigs for that…It was about winning, love, teamwork, but it was also about the effect we had on the rest of the world. At the end of the day, whoever wins the NBA championship is not going to necessarily have an influence on the rest of the world. Yeah, we didn’t win the championship and that was the ultimate goal, but like Mobb Deep says, “Infamy lives a lot longer.”
Speaking of an infamous squad, what did you think about Team USA at the Olympics?
They didn’t represent. The team just ain’t get it done. It’s no excuse.
Your mid range jumper is a monster. Could they have used you?
Oh, no question. That’s how I eat. That lit tle ass three point line, I would have knocked down about 10 of them in a game. That’s easy money.
Is it true that Team USA coach Larry Brown used to have an issue with you?
I played for Larry Brown and that was the worst season I ever had in my life. Brown felt that was going to be his last year in Indiana, so he took it out on me. I got 15 DNP’s Did Not Plays. I can name the guys he had playing in front of me: Vincent Askew, Haywood Workman and Reggie Williams. He was pulling guys out the i parking lot to play in front of me.
You flourished after he left the Pacers.
That’s when Larry Bird became my coach. He was the No. 1 influence on my pro career. I would have never thought that, especially since I hated him growing up. I was an Isaiah Thomas fan. How ironic is it that those people have a direct influence on my career. Isaiah Thomas is like family. I have a unique situation because these guys are mentors to me. That’s everything. At the end of the day, you play ball for the people that know the game. You don’t play for the people that just look at the numbers or the hype. You play for the legends and pioneers that know the game.
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