If you see Big Sean — in concert, on TV, or moseying through the streets — there’s a 33 percent chance he’s in a sports jersey. The Detroit-born rapper has paid homage to his hometown every chance’s he’s gotten, donning gear from the Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers, and even the Michigan Wolverines.
Big Sean isn’t the only one. I’d be remiss not to mention Drake, who has a catalog of jerseys he wears in public appearances. The man did, after all, have both Vince Carter’s and Tracy McGrady’s Raptors jerseys stitched into his sports jacket.
DMV area artist Wale also sports a wide-range of NBA jerseys, as does West Coast rapper Curren$y. But aside from those special cases, few rappers or hip-hop icons pay homage to NBA greats anymore; it’s a trend that seems to have died with the times.
Instead, rappers wear personalized jerseys with their own names etched on the back.
2 Chainz wears a custom-made No. 2 Atlanta Hawks jersey, as does each of the members of Migos. Jay-Z wore a custom made No. 4 Brooklyn Nets jersey for opening night at Barclays Center — about five years ago.
Throwback NBA jerseys used to be as much of a staple in menswear as oversized white T-shirts were; you just had to have one, or some, to be in style.
In honor of this abandoned tradition, we review some of the dopest throwback basketball jerseys that hip-hop icons have rocked over the years:
Players: Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, Damon Stoudemire and Chris Webber
You can call Drake whatever you want, but when he wears a jersey, it almost always looks good.
Player: Penny Hardaway
Player: Hakeem Olajuwon
Wale has a ridiculous sneaker game, too. It’s only right he has the jerseys to match.
Player: Latrell Sprewell
Player: Michael Jordan
Two goats in one picture.
Player: Jerry Stackhouse
Oversized white tee with an oversized jersey was very on-brand for Nelly (and everyone else) back in the day.
Player: Alex English
Fab made everything look good, but that Nuggets jersey made his outfit.
Player: Dominique Wilkins
One Atlanta legend paying homage to another.
Player: Rasheed Wallace
Eminem and Sheed just might be the same person.
Player: Clyde Drexler
Blazers red looked good on Cam’ron. I’m sure he would agree.
Player: Shaquille O’Neal
Can’t have a throwback without Xzibit. Who remembers Pimp My Ride?
Throwback jerseys may have fallen out of favor as fashion trends have taken over, but we can’t forget how dope it was to see some of the top names in the rap game showing love to the best basketball players of past eras.
There’s an ostensible connection between rappers and ball players — many feel they can swap professions without missing a beat. That’s probably not true: Lonzo Ball is about as good a rapper as Kendrick Lamar is a basketball player.
But the least we can do is look back at a time when players showed love to the hip-hop greats. And if history repeats itself, as it tends to, we might see this trend pick back up in the future.