BROOKLYN -- "If I didn't play basketball and love it like I do I would be a battle rapper," Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague tweeted out just days before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season. Sure, he added a "lol" at the end, but naturally, I decided to treat it as a declaration and take the bait.
I asked Teague, prior to his Hawks tipping off against the Brooklyn Nets in night two of their home-and-away set last Friday, about the tweet, knowing full well that I was most likely about to become the punchline.
"So, you want to do rap battles," I started, as Teague began to laugh. "Are you the team's best rapper?" I asked.
And before he could even answer, from three lockers away, Ivan Johnson chimed in with a declarative, "Oh, hell no!"
Teague smiled, adding, "Lou Will does videos and stuff. I don't know if I can compete with that. He's welcome to perform at my house party" and reiterated, "I don't know if I can compete with that."
Johnson made sure to reinforce his point that no, indeed, Teague isn't the team's best rapper, with yet another "hell no" still from three lockers away. And when I asked Johnson if he wanted to take claim to the rap battle title, Johnson laughed and said, "No, I'm more of an R&B dude."
"He listens to Sade," Teague said, before rookie Mike Scott brought up Anthony Hamilton, and then breaking into the chorus from Hamilton's "Charlene," off his 2003 record, "Comin' From Where I'm From."
And for as much as team captain Josh Smith will praise his point guard's on-the-court skills, that doesn't mean he'll vouch for Teauge by saying his mic skills have the same pronounced limitations that his basketball game does.
When I told Smith that Teague considers Lou Williams to be the team's best rapper, he was quick to agree.
"Yup, probably so!" Smith exclaimed. "[Williams] has a couple of little songs out. He likes to be in the studio, so I probably have to second that vote."
As for Williams, when asked if he agreed with Teague, he remained quite stoic as he responded with a simple answer: "Probably."
"[Teague] probably said it with some sarcasm in there," Williams said, "but we never had that conversation, so I don't even know."
And don't expect that conversation, in battle form or otherwise, to happen anytime in the near future. Teague is maintaining his constant approach to improving his basketball game and not thinking so much about his rap game.